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Why Kylian Mbappe representing France at Olympic Games in Paris this summer matters for PSG star

Kylian Mbappe wants to play at both UEFA Euro 2024 and the Olympic Games in Paris this summer and the Paris Saint-German and France talisman wants everybody to know it. The 25-year-old is out of contract in the French capital this summer and speculation rages about where his future lies but the one topic that he is unwavering on is his desire to play for his country in back-to-back international competitions come the end of the 2023-24 Ligue 1 season. Wherever Mbappe’s future lies, the man from Bondy’s intention before the start of the 2024-25 European club soccer campaign is to lead Les Bleus in Germany and then again in his hometown of Paris.

“You have to be picked, but we have discussed it with the club,” said the Real Madrid target of the French champions’ stance on the Olympics upon extending his contract at Parc des Princes. “The club is not against it — they are for it. There were no problems with that in the negotiations.”

“I have reached a point in my life and career where I no longer want to force things,” added Mbappe on the topic earlier this week — in his first major interview of 2024 with GQ in France — having cited double Olympic gold medalist LeBron James. “If they let me do them, I would go with great pleasure but if it is not possible, I would understand. For any athlete, the Olympics have a special place and I already wanted to go to Tokyo because I want to win everything and write my name in the history of the French team as that of a player who mattered.”

These are different examples of Mbappe explicitly confirming his desire to compete at this summer’s Olympic Games in Paris and recognition that he will likely be able to do so if he remains a PSG player. However, for that to be the case, he would need to extend his contract with the French giants which currently expires in June given that the Olympics start the following month. There is no guarantee that clubs interested in signing him would be keen on Mbappe playing consecutive international tournaments before even kicking a ball for them given the high costs associated with a player — and brand — of the Frenchman’s caliber.

“When I took over RB Leipzig it was the year of the Euros and the Olympics,” Jesse Marsch recalled recently on Call It What You Want when citing the example of Spain’s Dani Olmo. “I had Dani on my team and he was playing for Spain. He wanted to play in both the Euros and the Olympics. When I looked at the commitment if he wanted to do both, basically over an eight-week period he was only going to be free for four days and he wanted to go so badly that he wanted to come directly to camp after the Olympics. Normally we give three weeks off in Europe after any major tournament for players because often it is the only time off they have all year. So, reluctantly and against the club’s wishes I allowed Dani to play at the Olympics. And I did it because I wanted to invest in our relationship long term and show him that I wanted to support him. But he came back, I gave him a week off after the Olympics — I think they went to the semifinal in both — and when he came back to training he got hurt two weeks later. In my time at Leipzig I think he only played 20 minutes for me, he hardly ever played. And this was a factor in how the team performed.”

Despite the differences in profile, the risk is the same with Mbappe and it is as true for current employers PSG as it would be for any prospective future paymasters — Real Madrid, Liverpool or another soccer club. A player today, no matter how good their physical condition is, will be more susceptible to injury and below-par form after a summer spent playing even more soccer while their teammates have been resting and recuperating after extremely demanding club seasons. Mbappe clearly knows this and even acknowledged it to GQ — yet it will not change his stance on taking part in this once in a lifetime sporting showpiece on his doorstep.

“We are approaching the NBA model with 70-game seasons,” said the PSG and France man of modern soccer. “Personally, I am not against playing so much, but we are not able to be good every time to give the audience the expected show. In the NBA, players do not play every match and franchises load manage. But, today, if I decided to say ‘I am tired, I am not playing on Saturday,’ it would not work. The spectator who pays for his ticket, and who will perhaps see you only once during the season, wants to witness a performance worthy of the name and that is normal.

“I do not want to be a lesson giver, but we must think collectively to offer the best possible show — players, spectators and authorities must come together,” added Mbappe. “We are in an era of overconsumption, with a lot of matches, where people expect a lot from players. I have shown that pressure does not affect me negatively and I would even say that I need it to perform. This is what allows us to maintain the degree of excellence required to play at the highest levels.”

Despite that being Mbappe’s position on the matter, it will not be shared by his club nor by his head coach — regardless of whether that is with PSG or anyone else. Les Parisiens arguably have greater pressure than any other clubs to appear supportive of the Olympics in their home city and therefore not stand in the way of the likes of Mbappe and possibly even wonderkid Warren Zaire-Emery if they want to be part of fellow Parisian Thierry Henry’s final squad. However, the reality is that there will be a cost to pay which will fall on the clubs and it was hammered home by Marsch regarding Olmo.

“I do regret letting him go,” said the American tactician. “It was his dream to play in the Olympics, but in the end I think Dani is getting paid like $5.5-6.5 million a year by Leipzig and his commitment to the team and club is the most important. In that moment I let the team down and I let the club down by allowing him to do it. If I had to go back and do that again, I think it was a mistake and would have said ‘I am sorry Dani you must choose between the Euros and the Olympics.'”

Such an ultimatum is unlikely to be posed to Mbappe as his current situation gives him maximum leverage in terms of getting what he wants. However, it is clear that it will be more difficult to obtain a new club’s support regarding this summer’s Euros and Olympics than it will be PSG’s — the French champions already agreed to it in the past and any potential contract extension would almost certainly keep that agreement intact. Especially since Parisien President Nasser Al-Khelaifi has publicly admitted that the capital club absolutely wants to keep Mbappe and will again do all in their power to extend the former AS Monaco man’s stay. The Olympics is one of the lesser mentioned aspects of this year’s big soccer transfer story yet it could prove to be the most influential element of them all in deciding Mbappe’s immediate future.

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