Mbappe to bring curtain down on PSG career in French Cup final | Football News - Hindustan Times
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Mbappe to bring curtain down on PSG career in French Cup final

AFP |
May 24, 2024 07:15 AM IST

It will be Mbappe's 308th and final appearance for his hometown club, for whom he signed in August 2017 from Monaco in a 180 million-euro deal

Kylian Mbappe will bring the curtain down on his Paris Saint-Germain career on Saturday and has the chance to sign off with another trophy in the French Cup final against Lyon.

Paris Saint-Germain's French forward Kylian Mbappe(AFP)
Paris Saint-Germain's French forward Kylian Mbappe(AFP)

It will be Mbappe's 308th and final appearance for his hometown club, for whom he signed in August 2017 from Monaco in a 180 million-euro deal.

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That is assuming the France captain, now aged 25, plays in the game in Lille. He sat out PSG's last two Ligue 1 matches of the campaign, their 2-1 win at Nice on May 15 and Sunday's 2-0 win at Metz.

It seems that he was left out of those matches to keep him fresh for the Cup final, with PSG having already wrapped up the Ligue 1 title, although coach Luis Enrique hinted that he has not been entirely happy with his star man's application of late.

"This week we will see who is ready, who is not, and who has the most desire," he said last weekend.

"The French Cup final is very important for us."

Mbappe's time with PSG has been laden with silverware, at least on the domestic scene.

He has helped the Qatar-owned club win the Ligue 1 title six times and the now-defunct League Cup twice. Victory against Lyon on Saturday will allow him to claim a fourth winners' medal in the French Cup.

But of course his time at the Parc des Princes has also been marked by a lack of success where it matters the most, in the Champions League.

Mbappe scored 42 goals in 64 appearances for Paris in Europe's elite club competition, but PSG could not lift the trophy in those seven years -- and have still never won it.

With Mbappe there was a run to the final in Lisbon in 2020, when PSG lost 1-0 to Bayern Munich in a game played behind closed doors at the height of the pandemic.

There were two other appearances in the semi-finals, but he was unfit and an unused substitute in the second leg of the last-four loss to Manchester City in 2021, and simply did not perform when it really mattered in the defeat by Borussia Dortmund this season.

With Real Madrid expected to be his next destination, Mbappe will be hopeful of finally becoming a Champions League winner once he has moved away from Paris and from France.

- Legacy -

What trace will he leave behind in his home country?

Mbappe has been a superstar ever since he broke through as a raw teenager in a brilliant Monaco team that won Ligue 1 in 2017.

He is an icon in France, and will continue to be so while playing his club football abroad, just as Michel Platini, Zinedine Zidane and Thierry Henry were in the past.

But he will be determined to sign off with one more trophy, with PSG having the opportunity to win both the Ligue 1 title and the French Cup in the same season for the first time since the Covid-curtailed 2019/20 campaign.

Mbappe's own history in French Cup finals has not always been happy, even if he has been on the winning side three times.

He was sent off in the 2019 final, which PSG lost on penalties against Rennes, and came off hurt in the first half of the following year's final, as Paris got the better of Saint-Etienne.

But Mbappe usually turns up on the big occasion, and as well as his last game for PSG this will be his first final since the 2022 World Cup, when he scored that stunning hat-trick against Lionel Messi's Argentina in Doha.

The danger for Mbappe and PSG, however, is that they might not have everything their own way against Lyon.

Luis Enrique's team comfortably won the title, but Lyon's revival since being bottom of the league in early December has been astonishing.

Pierre Sage took over an ailing side and in five months has taken them to European qualification.

The final is being played outside of Paris and its surrounding region for the first time, with the Stade de France requisitioned for the upcoming Olympics.

The Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille, with its capacity of 50,000, emerged as the obvious choice as venue for the game given the identity of the finalists.

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