Long after Kylian Mbappe had turned the 47,000-strong crowd at Parc des Princes from sadness to joy, the young French sensation reiterated the same few sentences he has said about his imminent summer transfer choice for the last calendar year.
“People talk about me and my future, which is natural, but as a Paris Saint-Germain player,” Mbappe added. “I’ll offer everything I’ve got. I can confirm that my future has not been decided, and that the game against Real Madrid will have no bearing on that.”
While it may appear that Mbappe is keeping his cards close to his chest by repeating the same coach-speak he’s been saying for months, there may be more truth to his statements than meets the eye. It appears that the untruth is the final sentence.
As a result, the match versus Real Madrid has the potential to change everything. Even if it doesn’t affect his future, the question is whether it should.
PSG dominated the game from the first whistle to Mbappe’s 94th-minute winner, which was virtually the last kick of the game. Real Madrid, the La Liga champion and Europe’s most decorated club, was obliged to sit back and put ten men behind the ball, as if they were a side fighting for a point against an onslaught of approaching pressure.
Meanwhile, the hosts threw waves of attackers at Real Madrid’s bunkered defense, repeatedly breaching the line. Mbappe repeatedly twirled Dani Carvajal, winning the penalty that Lionel Messi had missed.
Nuno Mendes, a teen sensation on the left flank, was equally impressive, connecting up with Mbappe with his own sparkling attacking flair. On the other hand, Achraf Hakimi ate Ferland Mendy alive. Marco Verratti established himself as a world-class midfield commander, losing control only 16 times in 123 touches.
PSG had 57 percent possession overall, which appears to be flattering to Real Madrid. With a 91 percent success rate, the hosts out-passed the visitors 617-435. They outshot Madrid 21-3, placing eight shots on goal and leaving Madrid with no shots on target.
It was a once-in-a-generation attacking display; a sight to behold.
In fact, Lionel Messi, 34, was the only player who disappointed, and his missed penalty was not his only moment of despair, as he was eclipsed by his young, gunslinging partner.
Thibaut Courtois had to put up a massive effort just to keep PSG out, and he came close until the last whistle. A collective, forceful exhale follows a profound, reverent inhaling.
Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti dubbed Kylian Mbappe “the best player in the world now” after the encounter. Whether he meant “today” in the literal sense or to praise Mbappe as the best player in the current game may have been lost in translation, but the sentiment rings true in either case.
Mbappe was the greatest player on the field for a side that is now vying for the title of best in the world. Nobody pins Real Madrid in such a way.
So, with speculations flying about Mbappe joining the Spanish behemoth this summer, it begs the question: why would Mbappe leave the better squad for the weaker one after that performance, after that on-field statement?
PSG appears to be better positioned for long-term success, even if this is just one result. PSG’s center-back partnership consists of two 26-year-olds and a 27-year-old. It has 19 and 23 electric full-backs. It has a 22-year-old goalkeeper who has won numerous awards. And don’t forget about Neymar, who, when healthy, is one of the most electrifying players on the planet.
There is no comparable contrast on the opposite side of the pitch, where Mbappe is said to be joining. Real Madrid had to beg Luka Modric, 36, to return since there is no one to take his place in the midfield. Kroos, 32, was the only other Real Madrid outfield player who might be pleased with his performance in France.
Karim Benzema is 34 years old, and Father Time will catch up to him shortly. Dani Carvajal, who is 30, was reminded of his age by players who are seven and ten years his junior. Only 24-year-old Eder Militao, who has a bright future at the Bernabeu, has completed a single tackle or won a single aerial duel in Tuesday’s contest.
Mbappe may already be with the best side in the world, and one that can at least match whatever contract Real Madrid has in the works for this summer.
“If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” as the old adage goes, rings hollow here. Why join them if you can overcome them?