YAOUNDE, (Reuters) – Paris St Germain forward Kylian Mbappe is touring his father’s native Cameroon for the first time this week as doubts swirl over his future at the French club.
Excited fans gathered at the airport in the capital Yaounde, where the 24-year-old star touched down on Thursday for a three-day tour of the central African nation.
“It is an honour for me to be here, to be in the country of my origin, to be with my family and to see the people out there. They have shown me some love,” Mbappe said on Friday after meeting Cameroon’s Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute.
He was lined up for a sporty afternoon, with a basketball match against former NBA player Joakim Noah before hitting the pitch for a soccer game against Cameroon’s second-division team Vent d’Etoudi FC.
On Saturday, he will travel to the economic capital Douala and to the home village of his father Wilfried, a football coach who is also his agent.
The tour also includes visits to schools funded by Mbappe’s “Inspired by KM” charity, one of which specialises in teaching children with impaired hearing.
“We are pushing hard for a bright future in Cameroon,” he said, adding that he had more youth projects in the pipeline.
Mbappe, whose Algerian mother was a handball player, was born and raised in the northeastern suburbs of Paris.
There have been questions about his future at PSG since he told the club last month that he would not take up the option of a one-year extension on his contract when it expires next year.
PSG signed Mbappe from AS Monaco in 2017 in a deal reported to be worth around 180 million euros ($196 million), making him the world’s second-most expensive signing after Neymar, who joined them from Barcelona for 222 million euros.
If Mbappe sees out the remainder of his contract, PSG risk losing him for free at the end of the 2023-24 season. Club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi ruled out that option this week.
Mbappe evaded questions on the topic in Yaounde.
“Kylian is in Cameroon at the moment and that is the most important thing,” he said. “I want to take the maximum opportunity of my holidays to enjoy with Cameroonians.”