Kylian Mbappe turned down 'real option' to join Arsenal in favour of PSG
Kylian Mbappe has revealed he turned down Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger to sign for boyhood club Paris St Germain.
The 18-year-old France international striker, who was unveiled as a PSG player on Wednesday, rebuffed all other interest to return to the French capital.
Mbappe grew up in Paris and completed his footballing education with Monaco before joining the Parc des Princes club on loan, with a deal in place for him to make the move permanent next summer for a reported fee of €180 million (£166m).
Mbappe admitted to Arsenal’s interest, saying in quotes reported by the Daily Telegraph: “Yes, I met with Arsene Wenger, who is a great coach.
“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 St Germain was the main option.”
Mbappe opted to work under coach Unai Emery in a front line also featuring fellow summer-signing Neymar.
Mbappe added: “We weighed up the advantages and disadvantages of all the clubs, but my family told me it had to be my decision and one I needed to make.
“It also had to be a long-term decision. So it was up to me and I decided to come here in order to develop.”
As a child Mbappe had supported PSG and that made his decision a lot easier.
He said: “Being here is like going back home for me. I used to come to this stadium when I was a boy to watch games.”
Mbappe talked fondly of training with Chelsea for a week at the age of 11, playing in a game alongside Tammy Abraham and Jeremie Boga, currently both on loan at Swansea and Birmingham, respectively.
“It was a wonderful experience,” he said. “Chelsea was the first great club, the first big club, that I went to visit. So it was a real discovery for me.
“I was coming from my grassroots, amateur club. It was a whole new world. Of course I had an idea what a great football club was like but I was really impressed by the working culture and the mentality of wanting to be better day-in, day-out.
“And visiting this infrastructure helped me, actually, with my development. I saw things differently because up until then I had just a French mentality and after that I could pick what was positive in other mentalities and build my own.”
Meeting Chelsea stars Didier Drogba and Florent Malouda and having his photograph taken with them reinforced in Mbappe a desire to be a professional player.
“An idea has been reinforced since I was a kid,” Mbappe said. “Not just because I went to Chelsea. I always thought: ‘I want to be there, I want to be one of those big players who is trying to give people fun out of the game.’
“And I have given everything to reach that objective. Now I am on the other side of the camera, on the other side of the TV. That’s the only difference.”
But interest from Real Madrid, Manchester City, Bayern Munich and Liverpool amongst others could not shake Mbappe’s determination to do things his way and he chose Monaco at the age of 15.
Having signed his first professional contract with the principality club he matured into a 26-goal striker last season as he helped Monaco land the Ligue 1 title and reach the Champions League semifinals, leading to a call from PSG which he found too tempting to turn down.