Kylian Mbappeas current club Paris Saint-Germain eased past Vannes OC in the Coupe de France round of 32 on Monday but as has been the case for some time now, most talk about the French superstar focuses on his future rather than his present.
The iconic No. 7 is out of contract at Parc des Princes in June and has not yet signed an extension to that deal. While he is now less than six months away from his deal expiring and officially free to listen to offers from other clubs (as of Jan. 1, 2022) ahead of a potential summer switch, no decision or pre-contract agreement is expected from the player's camp until closer to the end of this term.
Let's take a look at everything you need to know about his situation as we count down the months until he's a free agent.
Mbappe, now 23, needs no introduction. The France international is one of -- if not -- the biggest names in soccer and every elite club would love to have him. Formerly of AS Monaco before joining PSG initially on loan in 2017, the Bondy sensation has spent the best part of the last five years breaking records and creating new ones.
His latest treble has taken him beyond the 200 career goals mark already and he has now scored 150 of those for Les Parisiens which can only be bettered by two players: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (156) and Edinson Cavani (200). Should he stay beyond this current season, there is every chance that he will replace Cavani atop PSG's all-time scoring charts sooner rather than later and he will almost certainly be second as this campaign closes.
In Paris, Mbappe leads the attack alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar but is arguably the most productive of that trio and along with midfielder Marco Verratti and captain Marquinhos, he is the most influential member of Mauricio Pochettino's star-studded squad which has struggled to convince so far this season.
"It is a big pleasure for me to say to my friends that I play with him," Mbappe told CNN of Messi recently after he won Globe Soccer Awards' Best Men's Player of 2021 in Dubai. "We must enjoy seeing him in Paris. It is an amazing moment in the game's history."
Despite that enjoyment, Mbappe is the sort of player that projects are built around and with so many star names in one place, PSG's lavish assortment of gems means that he often must share the limelight with the likes of Messi and Neymar instead of being PSG's undoubted focal point.
That brings us towards this summer which, just months ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, could see Mbappe make a pivotal decision in terms of his future. Either he stays in Paris, possibly for another year or two until the Olympic Games in Paris where he will almost certainly represent France, or he moves on to a new project.
"I am happy to stay as Paris is my city and I am also French," he told CNN. "I want to win everything this season. Paris is where I was born and grew up. To play for PSG is an amazing feeling, to play with family and friends by your side. I will give everything I have to win the Champions League, Ligue 1 and the Coupe de France as well as giving all the pleasure to the fans -- they deserve it."
PSG winning all three of those titles, though, particularly the UEFA Champions League (on Paramount+), is far from guaranteed which raises the scenario of Mbappe and his teammates failing in their quest.
By now, the only real alternative for Mbappe to PSG are Real Madrid and the Spanish giants have coveted him for many years in the knowledge that he grew up a childhood fan of the club and idolized Cristiano Ronaldo.
Florentino Perez tried to bring him to Santiago Bernabeu last summer which sparked a war of words with Parisien sporting director Leonardo and Los Blancos remain confident that he will eventually join them after he admitted that he wanted to leave Paris: "I was honest. I gave my feeling and what I have in my heart."
Mbappe with his current contract expiring is the best chance Real have had so far to finally get their man, yet they have also been heavily linked with Borussia Dortmund superstar Erling Haaland -- would Los Merengues' project be built exclusively around one or the other?
PSG unable to strike deal
So far, PSG have been unable to make a breakthrough in attempts to extend Mbappe's stay and coming up against Real in the Champions League round of 16 at the second time of asking due to the repeated draw truly could not have been scripted any better.
However, that titanic tussle is an opportunity for Les Parisiens in particular, to prove the merits of their project over that of their Spanish rivals' and advancing past Carlo Ancelotti's men could strengthen their hand in terms of making one final play to keep their ambitious star.
PSG vs. Real
"We have to be ready -- it is time," Mbappe told CNN of the Real clash. "It is the most important part of the season. Of course, we want to step up now. It has been two years that we have been reaching the final and semifinal so now we want to win it."
It could be that this mega Champions League encounter effectively decides where the future of arguably the most talked about soccer player in the world lies with his decision not expected until closer to the end of the season regardless of the two-legged outcome.