It wasn’t particularly certain we would arrive at Kylian Mbappe’s five-year anniversary at Paris Saint-Germain.
For well over a year, it was widely expected the superstar forward would swap the French capital for the Spanish and join European heavyweights Real Madrid.
But, lo and behold, an eye-watering new deal that runs until June 2025 was agreed back in May, much to the fury of Madrid and the joy of the PSG faithful.
A lot has changed since 2017, not least the fact Mbappe is now a World Cup winner with France.
And yet, there is a feeling that the PSG mission is very much not accomplished, so just how do we judge Mbappe’s success at the Parc des Princes thus far?
Mbappe has won Ligue 1 in four of his five seasons with PSG, adding to the title lifted in his last year with Monaco in 2016-17, and also has three Coupe de France, two Coupe de la Ligue and two Trophee des Champions to his name.
While it has not quite been a clean sweep of honours for the Parisians, they have dominated domestically during Mbappe’s time at the club and the France international has played a huge part in that.
Indeed, since making his PSG debut in September 2017, only Robert Lewandowski (185) and now team-mate Lionel Messi (203) have been directly involved in more goals across Europe’s top five leagues than Mbappe’s 167 – 123 goals and 44 assists.
Yet, harshly or otherwise, Mbappe’s domestic achievements with PSG are often discredited due to club’s sheer financial might. For all the Ligue 1 titles, it is the Champions League that is considered to be the true barometer of success for the French giants.
PSG have consistently fallen below expectations in the Champions League, coming closest to winning Europe’s elite club competition in the 2019-20 season when they lost to Bayern Munich in the final in Lisbon.
The following season, PSG reached the semi-finals of the competition before losing to Manchester City. In Mbappe’s other three seasons in Paris, they have fallen at the last-16 stage – most recently last term against Real Madrid.
In Mbappe’s five years at the Parc des Princes, he has scored more Champions League goals than any of his team-mates, netting 27 in all, with Neymar being his closest rival in that regard with 20 goals.
While Mbappe cannot do it all himself, he must shoulder some responsibility for PSG’s continental shortcomings – particularly as in his first three seasons at the club, he netted just one knockout goal in the competition.
That came in 2018-19 in the round of 16 against Manchester United, when PSG suffered elimination after the Reds Devils’ remarkable comeback at the Parc des Princes.
Mbappe also failed to score in the knockout stages in 2019-20 as PSG finished runners-up in the competition, though there has been a significant upturn in the past two seasons, with the forward netting four across two legs against Barcelona in the 2020-21 last 16, including a famous hat-trick at Camp Nou, then scoring twice in the quarter-finals as PSG knocked out Bayern.
In the 2021-22 season, Mbappe repeated the feat against Real Madrid in the last 16, scoring twice, but PSG were eliminated as Karim Benzema turned the tie on its head.
All in all, nine of Mbappe’s 27 Champions League goals have come in the knockout stages, eight of which have come in the last two seasons. Including the group stages, Mbappe has scored 14 goals in the past two seasons, compared to 13 in his first three years.
Yet all he has to show for it is that runners-up medal from 2020.
ANOTHER NEW ERA, DIFFERENT STORY?
With five years already under his belt as a PSG player and potentially three more to come (though Madrid will surely have something to say about that), Mbappe still has plenty left to achieve in his home city.
He is just 26 goals short of overtaking Edinson Cavani as the club’s all-time record goalscorer, yet personal milestones will surely be sacrificed in pursuit of that elusive Champions League crown.
Now joined by Neymar and Messi in one of the most star-studded forward lines in history, anything less than going all the way for PSG will be deemed a massive failure – as was the case last season when the front three struggled to truly click.
Having fallen short in agonising fashion with that aforementioned defeat to Madrid in last season’s knockouts, the French champions have taken a calculated gamble by replacing Mauricio Pochettino – who never truly took to the job – with former Lille and Nice boss Christophe Galtier.
Reunited with de factor sporting director Luis Campos, with whom he worked closely at Lille to help create the team that pipped PSG to the Ligue 1 title by a point in 2020-21, the Parisians have opted to take a different approach in their quest to be kings of Europe.
The early indications are positive, too, with PSG winning their opening three Ligue 1 matches and scoring 17 goals in the process – a tally only Rennes (18 goals in 1950-51) have bettered in the competition’s history at that stage.
PSG were held 1-1 by Monaco last time out, however, and their impressive start has not come without its complications. Neymar and Mbappe clashed in the 5-2 win against Montpellier over who would take a penalty, and the latter was also spotted seemingly sulking in the same game after the ball was not played his way.
It appears some things may never change at PSG in that regard, but ending the club’s wait for continental glory is something that simply must happen if Mbappe is to eventually bow out having achieved all he set out to at his boyhood club.
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!