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Kylian Mbappe has told PSG he will leave at the end of the season, AP sources say

Kylian Mbappe has told Paris Saint-Germain he will leave the club at the end of the season.

The France international informed PSG President Nasser Al-Khelaifi he would not stay at the club when his contract expires, two people with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press.

Both people spoke on condition of anonymity because Mbappe hasn’t made his decision public yet.

One person said Mbappe — who has previously been pursued by Real Madrid — did not indicate which club he would join next.

PSG declined to comment, but a second person with knowledge of Mbappe’s decision said the terms of his departure were still being worked out with the club and an official statement would not come until that has been finalized.

Mbappe — widely considered to be one of the best players in the world — will be a free agent at the end of the season after seven years with PSG.

He informed the club last year that he would not trigger an extension to the contract he signed in 2022.

When he signed that last deal, PSG paraded him at Parc des Princes holding up a jersey with 2025 written on it — even though the actual contract was until 2024, with an option for an extra year. That episode reportedly irked Mbappe, who then also felt let down by the club for failing to sign enough top-class players — other than Lionel Messi — after they pledged to do when he penned the deal.

While Madrid seems like the most probable destination for Mbappe, his departure from PSG is likely to spark a bidding war between a host of other clubs eager to sign the former World Cup winner.

The 25-year-old Mbappe has been at PSG since 2017 after signing from Monaco in a transfer worth a reported $190 million. He arrived at the same time as Neymar, who cost PSG a world record $222 million from Barcelona.

In 2021, PSG turned down a bid of $190 million from Real Madrid for the forward, who went on to sign his current contract the following year.

Mbappe will be the latest superstar player to leave the French club in recent times following the departures of Messi and Neymar last year. The glittering attacking trio played together for two seasons yet couldn’t even reach the quarterfinals of the Champions League as PSG was eliminated at the last-16 stage both years, first by Real Madrid and then Bayern Munich.

Mbappe won five French league titles with PSG, but has so far failed to lead it to success in the Champions League. When PSG reached the final in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, it lost 1-0 to Bayern as Mbappe and Neymar both failed to make an impact.

Mbappe could still go out on a high by winning European club soccer’s biggest prize this season. He scored in PSG’s 2-0 win on Wednesday over Real Sociedad in the first leg of the round of 16, taking his record-extending club tally to 243 goals in just 290 games, including 38 in the Champions League.

He also has 93 assists for PSG, third on the club’s all-time list.

Mbappe’s decision brings an end to a drawn-out saga that has overshadowed his final year at the club.

His PSG career could have ended last summer amid a tense transfer standoff. After telling the club he would not extend his contract for an extra year, he was left off a preseason tour to Japan and South Korea and forced to train with fringe players. PSG said it would rather sell him than let him leave for free in 2024, but Mbappe rejected a 300 million euro move to Saudi team Al-Hilal.

PSG left Mbappe out of the team’s opening league game of the season as the standoff continued — a dull 0-0 home draw which he watched from the stands — but then quickly relented and let him return to the lineup.

Even before that, Mbappe had sometimes let his evident frustration with the club show on and off the field.

After a 0-0 draw early last season, he posted a sarcastic message seemingly in reference to his displeasure at being used as a lone center forward, when he prefered to play behind a striker like France teammate Olivier Giourd. His Instagram post with the hashtag pivotgang — a pun on the word pivot (target man) — was then deleted.

Despite his brilliant scoring record, Mbappe has not always been a fan favorite at the club.

Some fans questioned why he stayed at all given his stated ambition to win the Champions League and Ballon d’Or trophy multiple times. He was won neither with PSG.

PSG may have sensed this moment was coming, since it has already made moves to shift its focus over the past 12 months in light of the exits of Messi and Neymar.

After years of problems with soccer violence and falling short on the field, PSG’s fortunes improved after being taken over by Qatar Sports Investments in June 2011. PSG largely dominated French soccer with some of the biggest names in the sport, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mbappe, Neymar and Messi. But it has begun to shift away from that model with signings like Randal Kolo Muani and Bradley Barcola last year.

Mbappe has long been viewed by Madrid as the ideal successor to Karim Benzema, who left the Spanish giant for Al Ittihad in Saudi Arabia last year.

Whether PSG can find a successor to Mbappe remains to be seen, as he will leave a giant void.

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer

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AP Sports Writer Jerome Pugmire contributed from Paris.

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