What does future hold for ‘undecided’ Mbappe?

Kylian Mbappe says he is undecided about his future as he enters the final five months of his Paris Saint-Germain contract. Sky Sports assesses what his next step might be…

Mbappe, 23, scored a stoppage-time winner for the French club in Tuesday night’s Champions League last 16 first-leg against Real Madrid at the Parc des Princes, in a game that was billed as his audition for Los Blancos.

Real are favourites to sign him on a free transfer in the summer after PSG rejected their £135m bid for the forward last August, despite him being in the final 12 months of his contract.

Kylian Mbappe scored PSG's late winner against Real Madrid in their Champions League  last-16 first leg
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Kylian Mbappe scored PSG’s late winner against Real Madrid in their Champions League last-16 first leg

But when Mbappe faced the inevitable questions on his future after Tuesday night’s game, he insisted he was biding his time before making a call on whether to remain in Paris or leave in the summer.

“No, I’ve not decided,” he replied. “I give my best, and then we will see what happens next season.”

Mbappe, who has 22 goals and 16 assists in all competitions for PSG this season, is expected by many to move to Real on a free transfer at the end of this campaign, having so far resisted to sign a new deal with the Parisian club.

Mbappe is mobbed by his team-mates late on
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Mbappe is mobbed by his team-mates late on

“How to ignore the (transfer) context? It’s easy, you have to play football,” Mbappe told broadcaster Canal Plus.

“We ask too many questions, we say too many things. We talk about PSG and Real, two big clubs.

“I’m a PSG player, I’m always very happy.”

Ancelotti: Mbappe is the best player in Europe

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti did little to hide his admiration for Mbappe after the Frenchman secured the victory for PSG on Tuesday night, giving them a one-goal lead heading into the second leg.

“Mbappe is the best player in European football,” Ancelotti said.

“Mbappe is unstoppable, we have tried to control him. Eder Militao has done very well, but he is a player who always invents something.”

Before the game, Real striker Karim Benzema angered PSG fans with his comments on Mbappe, openly discussing the possibility of his France team-mate joining him in Madrid.

“Playing against Kylian is special because we play in the national side together,” said Benzema. “Everyone knows that one day he could arrive at Madrid, but the most important thing is to play this game first and win it.”

Mbappe ‘keeping his options open’

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French football expert says Kylian Mbappe’s future is still up in the air after the PSG superstar scored their winning goal against suitors Real Madrid.

French Football journalist Jonathan Johnson has told Sky Sports News he expects Mbappe to keep everyone guessing about his future until the end of the season.

Mbappe told PSG of his desire to leave in July amid interest from Real Madrid, but after the move broke down he has been more vague about his plans for the future.

Real have been able to sign him on a pre-contract agreement since January, but have not come to an agreement publicly on a deal. Meanwhile, Mbappe has resisted contract offers from PSG.

The France international followed that same script in front of the world’s press on Tuesday night, leaving his future up in the air.

“He answered questions post-match in French, English and Spanish, so keeping his cards close to his chest, going to great lengths to say that no decision has been taken on his future,” Johnson told Sky Sports News.

“There have been reports in recent weeks that have been shot down by his entourage, and he is basically saying that he is keeping his options open until the end of the season.”

Despite Real appearing to be in pole position to sign Mbappe, Johnson is still holding out hope that Mbappe will elect to remain in France with PSG for a few more years.

“It’s a really difficult one to call because there are pros and cons to staying at PSG or moving to a club like Real Madrid.

“Personally, as someone who lives, loves and works the French game, I’d love to see him stay around for a bit longer. So I guess I’m bias in saying that I think he will be in France next season.”

Al-Khelaifi: PSG barely have a relationship with Real Madrid

The president of PSG Nasser Ghanim Al-Khelaifi
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The president of PSG Nasser Ghanim Al-Khelaifi

In the build up to Tuesday’s Champions League last 16 first-leg, PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi was clear that their relationship with Real Madrid is virtually non-existent.

While he didn’t mention Mbappe, it was clear that Real’s public pursuit of their prized asset since last summer has ruffled some feathers at PSG.

“I’m not going to hide it, we barely have any relationship with Real Madrid,” Al-Khelaifi told Canal Plus in France.

“I’m not going to remind you what happened… I believe in football being accessible for smaller clubs; they don’t think the same.”

Analysis: Mbappe stance highlights PSG transfer strategy

Sky Sports’ Zinny Boswell:

PSG shocked many last summer by rejecting a bid of around £135m for a player that was out of contract in 12 months.

PSG's Kylian Mbappe, right, and PSG's Neymar celebrate after the Champions League round of 16, first leg, soccer match Paris Saint-Germain against Real Madrid at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, Tuesday, Feb.15, 2022.
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Will Mbappe be convinced to stay in Paris like Neymar?

But it comes down to a matter of principle for the French club, who have refused to sell any of their star players to rival clubs since being taken over by Qatar Sport Investment (QSI).

The Qatari owners want to establish PSG as one of Europe’s super clubs and have the financial might to swallow any offers that come their way.

The likes of Thiago Silva, Edinson Cavani and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have all been allowed to leave at the end of their contracts, but they were players in the latter stages of their career that PSG were happy to move on from.

A few years ago it was Neymar trying to force his way out, but PSG were resolute when Real Madrid and Barcelona showed interest. The Brazilian ended up deciding to stay in Paris and signed a new deal.

Whether Mbappe will perform a similar U-turn before the end of the season remains to be seen, but even if he does leave, PSG will have sent a strong message that they are not a selling club – at any price.

Ancelotti all but confirms Bale will leave Real at end of season

Carlo Ancelotti has all-but confirmed Gareth Bale will leave Real Madrid when his contract expires this summer.

Bale has suffered with injuries and coronavirus since returning to Real after a season-long loan at Spurs last year, only making his return to the pitch in Saturday’s goalless draw at Villarreal – his first game since August.

Speaking ahead of Real’s Champions League last 16 first-leg clash at Paris Saint-Germain, Ancelotti suggested Bale’s contract situation may have affected his drive this season but said the one-time world-record signing is still keen to finish his career in Spain with a flourish.

The Italian said: “His contract is about to end and it could be that he didn’t have much motivation in recent times.

“Now he’s feeling good, and he wants to end his time here as he deserves, because Bale has brought many titles to this club.

“He helped the club to win the Champions League and Copa Del Rey titles, so I think that ending his time here on a high would be good for his career.

“I speak with him just like I try and speak with everyone else, trying to get the best out of them, listen to their problems, and that’s it.

“The personal relationship with him and the other players is good, I can’t blame him for anything.

Wales' Gareth Bale during the UEFA Euro 2020 round of 16 match held at the Johan Cruijff ArenA
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Bale is Wales’ all-time leading goalscorer, with 36 in 100 caps

“As long as a player is serious, professional and respects the rules and the people he works with, our personal relationship will be good.

“He’s always done that and never failed. Then, Gareth has had injuries which didn’t allow him [to play].”

The 32-year-old has won two La Liga titles, a Copa del Rey and four Champions League crowns in nine years at the Bernabeu after joining from Tottenham in the summer of 2013.

Retirement next for Bale?

Last month, Sky Sports News reported Bale is considering ending his playing career this summer if Wales fail to qualify for this year’s World Cup, but might consider joining a Championship club if he helps his country make the tournament in Qatar.

Wales face a play-off against Austria in Cardiff in March and, if they win, they will then face a showdown against either Scotland or Ukraine for a place in the finals.

Wales have not qualified for the World Cup since 1958 and Bale is keen to represent his country at the tournament before the end of his career.

Gareth Bale
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Bale is hoping to inspire Wales to their first World Cup in 64 years

But if Wales fail at the play-off stage, retirement could be on the cards.

However, if Wales do reach their first World Cup in 64 years, Bale could consider signing a short-term deal with a Premier League or Championship side to ensure he is ready for the tournament.

It is believed Bale, who turns 33 in July, could consider joining Cardiff or Swansea.

‘Bale’s achieved everything he wanted in club game’

Sky Sports News’ Kaveh Solhekol…

“This is an interesting story about Gareth Bale because obviously he is out of contract in the summer. He has always maintained he will stay at Real Madrid until the end of his deal, even though he may not be playing regularly.

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The Transfer Show’s Kaveh Solhekol explains why Gareth Bale may consider joining a Championship club or possibly retiring in the summer

“Of course Wales have got this big play-off coming up in March against Austria and then they will play Scotland or Ukraine if they get through the first tie.

“I think if Wales qualify for the World Cup then he’s going to be without a club in the summer because his contract is set to expire at Real Madrid. So what I think he will then do is try to sign a short-term contract with a club back in the Premier League or the Championship.

“I actually think it is more likely that it could be a club in Wales in the Championship that he signs a short-term contract with.

“And if Wales don’t qualify for the World Cup I think there is a very good chance that Bale will just retire from football when his contract runs out in the summer because he feels he’s achieved everything he set out to achieve in the game and if he’s not going to be able to play in the World Cup with Wales then he’ll retire.”

Champions League: The state of play

As the 2021/22 Champions League returns for the round of 16, we bring you the state of play, upcoming fixtures and the schedule for the remainder of the tournament.

The group stage of the competition came to a conclusion in early December, with Borussia Dortmund and Barcelona the big-hitters who exited prior to the round of 16, dropping into the Europa League as a result.

After beating AC Milan in December, Liverpool became the first English side to win all six Champions League group stage games
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After beating AC Milan in December, Liverpool became the first English side to win all six Champions League group stage games

For Dortmund, it represented just the second time in a decade they had failed to progress from the group stage, with five-time winners Barca a mainstay of the latter stages in 19 of the last 20 campaigns.

From a British perspective, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City sealed their spot in the last 16 with a game to spare, meaning their 2-1 defeat to RB Leipzig in their final group game mattered little, although Champions League holders Chelsea had to settle for second spot in Group H after drawing 3-3 with Zenit in their last group fixture.

Chelsea beat Manchester City to win the Champions League in 2020/21
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Chelsea beat Manchester City to win the Champions League in 2020/21

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side – who had already grabbed top spot in Group B with two games to spare – became the first English side to win all six Champions League group-stage games, beating AC Milan 2-1 in their final match to give a reminder of their own threat in this competition.

Meanwhile, Manchester United pipped last season’s Europa League winners Villarreal to Group F top spot, despite drawing two of their last three games, and will face now face Atletico Madrid.

Round of 16

First-leg fixtures

Tuesday February 15

Wednesday February 16

Tuesday February 22

Wednesday February 23

Second-leg fixtures

Tuesday March 8

Wednesday March 9

Tuesday March 15

Wednesday March 16

Quarter-finals

Draw scheduled to take place on Friday March 18.

First legs scheduled to be played on Tuesday April 5 and Wednesday April 6; Second legs on Tuesday April 12 and Wednesday April 13.

Semi-finals

Draw scheduled to take place on Friday March 18.

First legs scheduled to be played on Tuesday April 26 and Wednesday April 27; Second legs on Tuesday May 3 and Wednesday May 4.

Final

Scheduled to be played on Saturday May 28 at Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg.