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Club cannot let Mbappé leave as a free agent, says PSG president

PARIS (AP) – The high-stakes game between Kylian Mbappé and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) about the superstar France forward’s future was ramped up on Wednesday.

PSG president Nasser al-Khelaifi insisted the club cannot let Mbappé leave as a free agent next year and get no transfer fee in return.

“We can’t let one of the best players in the world go for free,” al-Khelaïfi said at a news conference to confirm hiring former Spain and Barcelona coach Luis Enrique.

Mbappé is clearly wanted by Real Madrid, the club he has admired since childhood.

The 24-year-old forward has one year left on his PSG contract and informed the club by letter last month he will not take up an option to renew it for the 2024-25 season.

Kylian Mbappe. PHOTO: AP

Mbappé also said he expects to start the new season in Paris in August and that “staying at Paris Saint-Germain is my only option, for the moment”.

Running down his contract to leave PSG in one year’s time would mean the French champion losing out on a transfer fee likely to exceed the world record EUR222 million it paid Barcelona for Neymar six years ago.

As a free agent, Mbappé could command a colossal signing-on fee if Madrid did not have to pay PSG for the transfer.

PSG would prefer that Mbappé renews for one year which would protect its investment and oblige another club to buy him if he did insist on leaving in 2024, potentially after playing for France in the Paris Olympics.

The gold-medal match is on August 9 next year, likely at Parc des Princes stadium that has been Mbappé’s home with PSG since 2017.