Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe has established himself as one of the sport’s truly elite players and is highly coveted at many elite clubs.
The Frenchman has already netted 171 goals in professional football, won four league titles and spearheaded his nation to World Cup success and he is aged just 22.
Combine his supreme skill with dazzling dribbling ability, electric acceleration, athleticism, reading of the game and an ice-cold composure in front of goal, it is little wonder that he is greatly admired and respected.
Since breaking onto the scene at Monaco, he has gone from precocious teenager to, for many, football's next king, set to fill the void that will be left by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo's departure from the world stage.
Mbappe became football’s second most expensive player ever – behind teammate Neymar – when he signed for PSG from Ligue 1 rivals Monaco but the price tag has not impacted on his status.
Indeed, the striker this week told French broadcaster TF1 : "My market value is €180 million but will I think about it in the morning? Not at all. That's how it works in football.
"The money is not going into my pocket. I have a passion for football and I have the chance to make a living from my job. I'm just trying to help my teams win."
More often than not, Mbappe’s teams do win – four successive league titles across two different clubs, a World Cup with France and firing PSG to their first ever Champions League final last season.
His absence in this season’s semi-final second leg against Manchester City greatly diminished his side’s chances.
The striker is a player who relishes performing on the biggest stage; he has scored 27 goals in the Champions League – including four in the Round of 16 rout against Barcelona – and twice against Argentina in a World Cup knockout win, whilst also netting the final victory over Croatia.
Many consider Mbappe to be world football’s best striker – in competition with Erling Haaland at Borussia Dortmund – so it is little wonder his future is often speculated upon.
Whilst many believe Neymar switched Barcelona for the French capital to be the main player – having been overshadowed by Lionel Messi at the Camp Nou – Mbappe appears to be a player who wants to be on the highest possible stage to showcase his talents.
His interview also saw him speak about his desire to be crowned the world’s best player: "The first collective goal is to win the biggest trophies. But the Ballon d'Or is a goal for any player who aspires to be the best.
"And I am one of them. But it's too presumptuous to talk about it."
Whilst Neymar appears set to sign a long-term contract renewal in Paris, Mbappe’s future this summer is rather unclear. The Frenchman is out of contract in the summer of 2022 and his deal is now at a tipping point – either pen a new deal or PSG risk losing him as a free agent, which would be unthinkable.
The situation could also be complicated by the contractual situations of the captains of both Barcelona and Real Madrid – Messi and Sergio Ramos – who, as things stand, will be free agents from 1 July.
Paris Saint-Germain have been linked to both stars with claims that Neymar’s commitment is tied to his belief that they would make a serious attempt to sign Messi; Joan Laporta, the new Barca president, insists Messi is going nowhere.
There are also cutbacks in Madrid; Spanish radio station Onda Cero has claimed PSG have made a three-year contract offer to Ramos, who is only being offered a two-year extension by Los Blancos on a reduced wage.
That could lead to a set of circumstances that – with Neymar committing to a long-term deal and one if not two superstars arriving at the Parc des Princes this summer – could see the club attempt to cash-in on Mbappe, who has been non-committal on his future.
It is no secret that Mbappe was a boyhood fan of Real Madrid and his idol was Zinedine Zidane – who inspired France to the World Cup title in the year that the striker was born.
Indeed, the striker revealed an anecdote in an article for The Players’ Tribune where he outlined a childhood encounter with Zidane which was ‘like a dream’ and the two have publicly flirted with the idea of a potential reunion.
Back in January, Spanish newspaper Diario AS ran with the headline 'Formula Mbappe’ in which they outlined that Real Madrid were planning to sell six first-team squad players in order to fund a move for the Frenchman.
This week, Marca have upped that number to seven – with Madrid planning a mass clearout to entice the striker whilst balancing the finances by promoting more youngsters.
However, Zidane’s future as Madrid boss beyond this season is increasingly unclear and that could fundamentally impact the striker’s desires to move to the Spanish capital.
There are no other realistic options for the striker this summer – with the leading clubs in the Premier League the only others who could, if complemented by sales, make such a deal feasible.
Mbappe has previously been linked with a move to Liverpool, which may be somewhat fanciful and would almost certainly only be remotely justifiable if at least one star player was sold.
Next month Mbappe will be hopeful of adding the European Championships to his growing medal collection this summer.
France are pre-tournament favourites and the striker has said: "The goal is always the same for a great football nation: to try to win the competition and to honour the French people by playing as a team.
"A World Cup and Euros double? Who doesn't dream about that? I am no exception. We always want to win and that would be an extraordinary achievement.
"Having the recognition of an entire country is important to us and we want to be successful."
While Mbappe is certain to star for France for many years to come, his future at club level will certainly be worth keeping an eye on. As it stands, things are far from certain.
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