Kylian Mbappe proud to leave PSG ‘with head held high’

Kylian Mbappe proud to leave PSG ‘with head held high’

LILLE – Kylian Mbappe said he was proud to leave Paris Saint-Germain with his “head held high” after winning the French Cup final on May 25, but would wait for the right time to confirm where he will be playing next season.

“To finish with a trophy in a final, there is no better way. It feels really good,” he said after PSG beat Lyon 2-1 in the title showdown in the northern city of Lille.

The French forward’s contract is now up and he recently confirmed he would leave at the end of the season, with Spanish champions Real Madrid expected to be his next destination.

“All I wanted was to end things well with my club, with a trophy. I think there is a time for everything and I will announce my future club in good time,” the 25-year-old added.

“I think it will be in a few days so there is no problem. I don’t know when yet. There are still some details (to be sorted out) but the most important thing was to finish on a high here.”

Mbappe did not score in the game and so he leaves his hometown team with a club-record tally of 256 goals from 308 appearances.

Ousmane Dembele and Fabian Ruiz netted for PSG, who held on for the victory after Irishman Jake O’Brien pulled a goal back for Lyon in the second half.

Luis Enrique’s team, who lost to Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League semi-finals, therefore end the campaign with a domestic league and Cup double.

Mbappe joined PSG from Monaco in August 2017 in a stunning €180 million (S$263.6 million) deal and departs after winning six Ligue 1 titles, four French Cups and two League Cups, as well as helping his team reach the Champions League final in 2020.

“There are only good memories and now I can go out with my head held high, with a trophy as well, so I will only remember the positives,” he said.

He admitted that he spent a lot of time thinking ahead of kick-off about the fact he would never play for PSG again, as he brings to an end a seven-year spell with the club he joined as a teenager.

“With the protocol before a Cup final you have a lot of waiting around and so there is a lot of time to think, and the last thing a footballer needs to be doing is thinking,” he said.

“You think and so all the memories start to come back. There is all the nostalgia, and the thought that in 90 minutes it will all be over. It was difficult but great fun at the same time.”

PSG coach Enrique, meanwhile, said that the squad and their summer signings will have to step up following the departure of their all-time scorer.

“I have had the good fortune to coach Kylian this season. It has been a difficult one for him after seven years at his club and all that he has achieved, it is difficult to say goodbye,” the Spaniard said.

“There is no substitute for Mbappe, we cannot replace him, we will do it through the team and four, five or six signings we can make. Kylian’s replacement will be the team that, along with the fans and our ambition, will try to win everything in the following seasons.”

Away from the focus on Mbappe, the French Cup final involved a more serious issue as it was marred by fan violence.

French President Emmanuel Macron said he condemned “with the greatest firmness” the incidents that broke out between PSG and Lyon fans on their way to the match that left 38 people hurt and a bus burnt to a crisp.

The clashes erupted at a toll gate 60km from Lille. One bus was set on fire and two others damaged, local Nord department authorities said in a statement, adding that 30 supporters and eight police officers were injured. AFP, REUTERS

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