Former France striker Nicolas Anelka believes Kylian Mbappe will need to follow his example in leaving Paris Saint-Germain to play abroad if he is to be regarded as the best player in the world.
Mbappe, who joined PSG in 2017, is about to enter the final season of his contract in the French capital with speculation linking him with a move to Real Madrid.
Despite spending four seasons alongside Neymar at the Parc des Princes, the superstar duo have failed to deliver PSG’s first ever Champions League title and even lost Ligue 1 last season to Lille.
Anelka had a brief stint in Madrid himself after joining Arsenal from PSG as a teenager in 1997.
“If you want the biggest accolades, you will have to move from PSG at some point,” Anelka wrote in an open letter published in The Athletic.
“Whatever you do in Paris will be good, but somebody will always say, “Well, you did great for PSG but it was only in France. The best leagues are in England and Spain, so you didn’t compete with the best players in the best league.”
Tottenham have made contact with former manager Mauricio Pochettino — currently boss of Paris Saint-Germain — about a return to the club, according to widespread reports in the British press on Friday.
The 49-year-old left Spurs in November 2019 after five years in charge and was replaced by Jose Mourinho, who was sacked last month.
Media reports say it is understood the London club have spoken to the Argentine, who replaced Thomas Tuchel at PSG in January, regarding the potential prospect of a second spell in charge in London.
PSG missed out on the Ligue 1 title for only the second time in nine seasons and lost to Manchester City in the Champions League semi-finals but won the French Cup.
The French club on Thursday issued an interview on their interview featuring Pochettino, who has 12 months left on his contract, talking about doing “great things in the future”.
“I’m happy with the way the players have adapted to the changes,” he said. “There are many things which could not be changed or which could not be developed for lack of time.
“But I still think that with this way of working, and with the desire to be able to develop other types of ideas on the ground, we will do great things in the future.”
Ajax boss Erik ten Hag and Brighton’s Graham Potter have been linked with the Spurs job and Antonio Conte could be in the frame following his exit from Inter Milan just days after winning the Italian title.
Pochettino would likely be the most popular appointment among the fans.
Tottenham mounted back-to-back Premier League title challenges under Pochettino before a memorable run to the 2019 Champions League final, where they lost to Liverpool.
But their form dipped alarmingly at the beginning of the following season and Pochettino was sacked in November 2019.
His relationship with the club — and chairman Daniel Levy — remained strong and he spoke about returning to the club one day.
In an interview in April last year, Pochettino told BT Sport: “Deep in my heart I am sure our paths will cross again. From the day I left the club, my dream is to be back one day and to try to finish the work we didn’t finish.”
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola told his players to believe in their ability to complete the job against Paris Saint-Germain next week and reach the club’s first ever Champions League final.
Guardiola’s men came from behind to beat the French champions 2-1 in the Parc des Princes on Wednesday to take a vital lead back to the Etihad Stadium on May 4.
City reached the last four for the first time in five years under Guardiola by also bouncing back from conceding an early goal in their quarter-final, second leg against Borussia Dortmund to win 2-1 in Germany.
The Premier League champions-elect needed a similar response after Marquinhos’s early header gave PSG a half-time lead.
City were much improved after half-time, but had luck on their side to level when Kevin De Bruyne’s cross found the bottom corner before Riyad Mahrez’s free-kick completed the comeback.
“In Dortmund we conceded a goal and came back and today the same,” said Guardiola. “Only what I want is to be ourselves in the second game.
“We are good playing in a certain way, we cannot do it another way. Hopefully we can find the right words, the right decisions to do it.”
City showed a new found maturity on the European stage to weather an early storm from Mauricio Pochettino’s men and go in only 1-0 down at the break.
But Guardiola put a slow start down to nerves in a first Champions League semi-final for many of his players.
“At 1-0 they were good, we could not press well. We didn’t have the good possession in the right positions but that sometimes is normal.
“This club does not have much experience in this stage of the competition, but I think it will help us to realise that we are ourselves or anything can happen. I think the second half we were, we were incredibly aggressive and played really good.”
All eyes were on De Bruyne when City were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position with 19 minutes to go, but the Belgian’s decision to step aside for Mahrez to fire in the winner proved an inspired choice.
“I said ‘if you believe in yourself, take it’,” said De Bruyne. “I have full confidence in my team and you know he scored the goal, so who am I to say something about that?”
City’s dominance of possession after half-time and a fine defensive performance from Ruben Dias and John Stones managed to keep PSG’s star duo of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe quiet.
But De Bruyne warned the job is only half done.
“We know there are going to be moments in the game where we suffer,” added the City captain.
“The quality in this stage (of the competition), we know how good they are so you have to set your mind on that. Run hard, work hard for the team and we know we also have quality to play against them.”
Kylian Mbappe warned he is “only just getting started” after scoring his 100th goal in France’s top flight as Paris Saint-Germain swept aside title rivals Lyon 4-2 on Sunday to move to the top of Ligue 1 following a shock defeat for previous leaders Lille earlier.
Mbappe netted twice at the Groupama Stadium with Danilo Pereira and Angel Di Maria also on target before Islam Slimani and Maxwel Cornet pulled goals back for the home side.
The result allowed Mauricio Pochettino’s team to move into first place on goal difference from Lille, who were beaten 2-1 at home by struggling Nimes in a huge blow to their own title hopes.
Lyon would have gone top themselves with a victory but instead they remain three points off the lead in third place, while Monaco are another point back in fourth after winning 4-0 at Saint-Etienne on Friday.
Mbappe is Ligue 1’s leading scorer with 20 goals this season and has reached a century of goals in France’s top flight in 142 appearances at the age of just 22.
“I knew I was just two goals away. It’s a new step in my career, another step towards history. These are things that stay with you,” Mbappe told Canal Plus.
“I am only just getting started. I still have a lot of years in front of me to perfect and improve my game so I think it can only get better.”
It was a perfect night for PSG, as the reigning champions bounced back from a surprise 2-1 home loss to relegation-threatened Nantes last week and claimed a win against a direct rival in the title race for the first time this season.
They also saw Neymar return after a month and a half, and nine games, out injured. The world’s most expensive player came on as a substitute, replacing Mbappe midway through the second half.
Mbappe was close to his electrifying best and the World Cup winner opened the scoring 15 minutes in, following up to find the net after Marco Verratti’s shot was parried by Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes.
Marquinhos then nodded down a Presnel Kimpembe cross for Pereira to slam in and make it 2-0 just after the half-hour mark, and any hopes Lyon had of a comeback were blown away at the start of the second half.
First Di Maria whipped in a free-kick from wide on the right that evaded everyone on its way into the net, and then Verratti released Mbappe to break clear and finish for his second of the game on 52 minutes.
PSG took their foot off the pedal after that and allowed Lyon back into the game with Algerian striker Slimani firing in from outside the box just past the hour mark before Cornet made it 4-2 inside the final 10 minutes.
“We played well, we won, we have taken back first place and now we’ll try not to give it up,” Mbappe added.
– ‘No excuse’ for Lille – Pochettino’s side are next in action after the international break on April 3 when they entertain Lille in another top-of-the-table encounter.
Lille had been top at the start of the day but their hopes of a first title in a decade suffered a major blow against Nimes.
Goals from Senegalese striker Moussa Kone and captain Renaud Ripart, either side of Xeka’s equaliser for Lille, gave Nimes a victory which lifted them out of the automatic relegation places.
Lille have now won just twice in league games and been eliminated from both the Europa League and French Cup in recent weeks.
“We didn’t perform well. There is no excuse, but there are eight matches left until the end of the season and the battle goes on,” Lille captain Jose Fonte told Canal Plus.
“Our rule number one is to defend well, not concede goals, and then we will get chances in every game, but we didn’t do that and when you don’t defend together as a team it is always difficult.”
Nimes move up into the relegation play-off position while Nantes, held 1-1 by Lorient, slip to 19th.