Kylian Mbappe, his complicated relationship with Paris and a showdown with his dream club

Joey D'Urso and Adam Crafton Feb 15, 2022 97
Kylian Mbappe looms large over Harry’s Cafe, an American-style diner next to the concrete flyover connecting central Paris with Bondy, the suburb where the superstar French striker grew up.

A gigantic mural, paid for by Nike, covers an apartment building casting a shadow over the cafe’s car park (below). It depicts the young boy sleeping and dreaming of becoming a superstar.

Now 23, Mbappe’s footballing dreams have been realised quicker than he could ever have imagined.

Aged just 19, he won the World Cup and the tournament’s best young player award, cementing his place as the golden boy of his country and city after returning to Paris from Monaco in 2017 as the most expensive teenager of all time. He has also won four Ligue 1 titles, three French cups, and a bucketload of individual honours.

But Mbappe seemingly wants out of a club where he has to vie for attention with Lionel Messi and Neymar, the three men who make up perhaps the most exciting forward line in the history of football on paper, although none seem to be enjoying it very much.

This week PSG take on Real Madrid which, in the worst-kept secret in world football, is Mbappe’s favoured destination when his contract runs out in the summer.

Madrid are confident they will get their man, but PSG are desperate to keep him.

Some have even suggested the result of this tie could be a factor in his thinking, either proving this new-look PSG can beat the best in Europe as well as France, or instead demonstrating that if Mbappe truly wants to be the best in the world, he must join a historic football powerhouse like Real Madrid.