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European Soccer: Zidane ‘Old Tricks’ Upset PSG ...

Sporting Director Leonardo annoyed at mind games set to destabilize Mbappe

Real Madrid v Galatasaray: Group A - UEFA Champions League
Real Madrid boss Zidane Zidane’s mind games over Kylian Mbappe have upset Leonardo and PSG.
Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images

The latest instalment of the La Liga soap opera has Real Madrid’s French coach playing mind games over the future of PSG’s star striker Kylian Mbappe.

As disclosed by Marca, Zidane responded to a question on Mbappe earlier this week at a press conference, beginning his answer ...

”It will be the player who makes the decision on his future.

”At the moment he is with PSG. In the future, we’ll see, he has always said that his dream was to play at Real Madrid one day.”

Mbappe, the hottest young talent in the world, is coveted by Zidane as he sets about rebuilding Los Blancos’ future. Real’s French coach was left perplexed and frustrated in the lead up to this season. Not only were the Spanish giants unable to land identified targets, they also failed to move unwanted players on. Players that Zidane now has to rely on.

PSG Sporting Director, Leonardo for his part, reacted to Zidane’s comments.

”It’s annoying. This isn’t the time to speak about dreams and all of that.

”It has to stop. Mbappe is very important for us and this isn’t the moment to destabilise him.”

Zinedine Zidane
Opponents in a previous life. Zidane in action against Leonardo during the the 1998 World Cup Final in Paris.
Photo by Nagel - Sportbild/ullstein bild via Getty Images

But perhaps it is the time for an under-pressure Zidane to introduce gamesmanship in the lead-up to Real’s meeting with PSG on November 26, each clubs’ next fixture in the Champions League. Zidane is involved in the tightest La Liga title race in years (although Real and Barca are still likely to pull away eventually, with possibly Atletico on their coat-tails) and despite looking comfortable in respect of advancement from the group, he won’t want to see his team dismantled again by PSG, who won their opening fixture 3-0 in Paris.

Real were undone that night by two first-half goals by former player Angel di Maria in a game where PSG were not only without Mbappe, but other heavyweights, Edinson Cavani and Neymar as well.

AS Monaco owner Vadim Vasilyev also revealed last weekend” “Mbappe has told me of his desire to go to Real Madrid.”

Paris Saint Germain v Club Brugge - UEFA Champions League
Kylian Mbappe, seen in action recently against Belgium’s Club Brugge, may have already become the next big ‘tug-of-war player involving PSG.
Photo by Erwin Spek/Soccrates/Getty Images

There has been much speculation in recent weeks about the young French striker’s future, the world’s second-most expensive player after team-mate Neymar, but Leonardo insists, perhaps not that convincingly, his star-turn will remain in the French capital.

“Firstly, Kylian is a player who is under contract with us for two and a half years more so if you are speaking about dreams and what he wants, I think it is time to stop that for a bit.

“Kylian is very important player for us because he is the best young player in France, he is a world champion and one of the best players in the world.

“This is not the time to critique him or try to destabilise him - this is something that has to stop, everyone wants him but nobody can get him.”

There’s been talk of some huge salary numbers, elevating Mbappe to the same €40m per year level of the likes of Neymar and Messi at Barcelona. Either way, this is another high-profile player PSG and Leonardo look set to tightly grip in the face of wealthy, would-be suitors from Spain.

Without the recent Neymar drama having come close to reaching the final credits, the sequel has already begun.