Fresh off a blockbuster €180-million move to hometown club Paris Saint-Germain, Kylian Mbappe has lifted the lid on a pair of London outfits that expressed an interest in the burgeoning star at different stages of his emerging career.
Arsenal and Chelsea supporters look away: the 18-year-old had considered both suitors as a potential destination.
In conversation with the Telegraph’s Jason Burt, Mbappe was mum on the number of clubs that made advances, wisecracking, “No comment – I will play the Joker on that one!” though he admits Arsenal was a realistic destination after a meeting with Gunners boss Arsene Wenger.
“Yes, I met with Arsene Wenger, who is a great coach,” Mbappe said. “He has a great reputation here in France, he’s well-respected and knows how to develop young players. This was a real option for me. But, of course, Paris Saint-Germain was the main option.”
Wenger has publicly expressed his fondness for Mbappe on several occasions, though the pacey attacker concedes it was Chelsea who first showed an interest in him, prompting a trial when he was 11 years old.
Related: Wenger admits to monitoring Monaco stud Kylian Mbappe
“It was a wonderful experience. Chelsea was the first great club, the first big club, that I went to visit. So it was a real discovery for me,” Mbappe added. A trial saw the former Monaco stud participate in an Under-12 match alongside Blues academy grads Tammy Abraham and Jeremie Boga.
“We played against Charlton, I think, and we won maybe seven or eight nil,” Mbappe recalls. “I also got to meet some of the first-team players – (Didier) Drogba, (Florent) Malouda – the French-speaking ones and took some pictures with them.”
(Photo courtesy: Action Images)
Mbappe adds he also trained with Real Madrid’s Under-15 side amid growing interest from other European heavyweights like Bayern Munich and Manchester City, but in the end, it was always going to be PSG for the lad born and raised in the city’s northern banlieue of Bondy.
“Being here is like going back home for me,” Mbappe said. “I used to come to this stadium when I was a boy to watch games. I was a football fan, a kid who loved football and when you are a kid from Paris there are only two stadiums – the Stade de France or the Parc de Princes – and that is what makes Paris so special.
Related: Will Mbappe-Cavani-Neymar be the greatest front-three ever?
“There is only one club in Paris so every Paris kid follows Paris Saint-Germain. And if that kid has money in his pocket he comes to games here.”
Refreshingly candid, Mbappe did not divulge what prompted him to look beyond Monaco, saying, “Then something happened that changed my mind and then I wanted to leave.
“We weighed up all the offers I received and I decided to join Paris Saint-Germain because this is the project that will help me develop while I win titles. Of course, I still want to learn but I want to win. Starting with today.”
Mbappe will get a chance to make his PSG bow Friday at Metz, with his Parc des Princes debut as a member of Les Parisiens scheduled for Sept. 17 against Lyon.