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Mbappe insists he’ll start next season at PSG

PARIS (AP) – Kylian Mbappe insists he will start next season with French champion Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), and the superstar defended his decision to inform PSG by letter that he won’t trigger a 12-month extension on his contract.

The 24-year-old Mbappe has been in the spotlight all week after writing to tell PSG of his plans. By declining the option, his contract will expire at the end of next season.

“I’ve already answered the question. I said my objective was to continue with the club. Staying at Paris Saint-Germain is my only option, for the moment,” he said on Thursday at France’s training camp. “I’m ready to come back at the restart. I hope the next questions are about the (France) match.”

Mbappe tried to play down the fuss about his letter.

“The letter was sent before (the France squad met up),” said Mbappe, who will captain Les Bleus in a 2024 European Championship qualifier at Gibraltar on Friday. “I didn’t think a letter could kill someone or that I offended anyone. All I did was send a letter. You can’t control people’s reactions, but it doesn’t bother me much.”

News of the letter, however, immediately sparked a transfer frenzy that saw Mbappe linked again with Real Madrid, which had offered EUR180 million (USD190 million) for the striker in 2021.

Madrid missed out again last year when Mbappe signed a new deal with PSG until 2024 with an option for ’25 that would need to be signed by July 31.

French football player Kylian Mbappe reacts during a training session with the French national team at the national team training centre in Clairefontaine, west of Paris on June 13. PHOTO: AP

PSG does not want him leaving as a free agent next year — the club just saw Lionel Messi walk away and got nothing in return.

Rather than justify himself, Mbappe tried to bat away questions about PSG and focus on France.

“I don’t think an explanation is needed. I accept everything, people are free to talk. They can criticise or they can be understanding,” said Mbappe, the 2022 World Cup’s top scorer. “In life there are many things you don’t understand and they don’t have all the (facts) of the case … I know why I do what I do and say what I say. That’s the main thing.”

On Friday, Mbappe will play his 69th game for France and look to add to his 38 international goals.

“My only concern is tomorrow and helping my team win,” he said. “A few outside noises won’t make me run away from my responsibilities as (France) captain.”

However, Mbappe took the opportunity to repeat his wish to play for France at next year’s Olympic Games in Paris.

“I always said that it was my dream to play in the Olympic Games,” he said. “But I also said that I wouldn’t force matters and that I would be at the disposal of my club, because it’s not a FIFA competition. If I can take part it would be with great pleasure.”

Whether that’s as a Real Madrid or a PSG player remains to be seen.