Carlo Ancelotti recognised Real Madrid had no answer to Kylian Mbappe in Tuesday's defeat to Paris Saint-Germain, acknowledging the match-winner was "unstoppable".

PSG claimed a slender 1-0 win over Madrid at the Parc des Princes to take a first-leg lead to the Santiago Bernabeu next month.

Mbappe got the decisive goal right at the end, skipping between a couple of defenders before firing through Thibaut Courtois' legs.

But Mbappe had terrorised the Madrid defence throughout, managing seven shots in total, drawing some vital saves from Courtois.

Mbappe also won the penalty that Lionel Messi had saved, with the France striker rising to the occasion against the club many expect him to join at the end of the season.

Ancelotti has rarely shied away from declaring his admiration for Mbappe, and he saluted the 23-year-old's show-stopping display.

"Mbappe is unstoppable," Ancelotti was quoted as saying by Marca.

"We have tried to control him. [Eder] Militao has done very well but [Mbappe] can always invent something out of nothing, and he created at the last minute."

In contrast to Mbappe's, Madrid's performance was significantly lacking in purpose, almost appearing to play for a draw from the outset.

They failed to get a shot on target for only the second time in a Champions League game since Opta records began (2003-04).

In fact, their 0.14 expected goals (xG) is Madrid's worst in a Champions League match since registering just 0.05 xG against Borussia Dortmund in April 2013.

Explaining their issues, Ancelotti continued: "We've done quite well in defence but we haven't been very aggressive.

"We lacked something with the ball, we've missed many passes and it took a lot to get out of their pressure.

"[Marco] Asensio and Vini [Vinicius Junior], [Karim] Benzema as well, they didn't get many balls. With the ball we didn't do as we wanted.

"We tried to start from the back but it didn't work out. The low block had to be more aggressive, but it wasn't a conservative approach. It didn't work out for us, getting the ball as we know."

Benzema was withdrawn in the second half after making his comeback following over three weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring injury, though Ancelotti assured he was not substituted due to that problem.

"Benzema's problem was not physical," he said. "I changed him just before the end, the problem is that the balls we wanted did not reach him.

"I'm optimistic, although we have to do better in the second leg. We have the game at home and we don't have to worry about the away goal.

"It's clear that PSG have a good advantage but hopefully it won't be enough."

Kylian Mbappe was described as "an alien" and the best in the world by Gianluigi Donnarumma and Danilo Pereira after firing Paris Saint-Germain to a win over Real Madrid.

The France star struck the winner with practically the final kick of the game as PSG claimed a 1-0 victory in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

Mauricio Pochettino's side were the more adventurous overall as Madrid ended the match without a shot on target, their expected goals tally of just 0.14 well below PSG's 1.87.

Mbappe was the most enterprising player throughout against the team he has been tipped to join at the end of the season, but Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois kept his side at bay, saving a Lionel Messi penalty midway through the second half.

Yet in the 94th minute, Mbappe collected Neymar's backheel, worked space in the box and slotted a finish past Courtois, taking his tally to 52 direct goal involvements in 52 Champions League appearances.

Speaking to Sky Sport Italia, PSG goalkeeper Donnarumma, who was largely a spectator throughout the contest, said of Mbappe: "He's spectacular, on and off the pitch. He's an alien. He settled things today.

"He'll take care of [his future]. They're matters for him and he'll decide. In everyday life, from the warm-up to the games, you can see he's an incredible player."

Donnarumma said he praised opposite number Courtois for his performance as he described the victory as hugely important.

"I complimented Courtois. There's respect there. We often talk, and I complimented him," said the Italy international.

"It's a very important victory. We made a great start, we needed to score first, but the ball didn't go in.

"There's a return leg now, and we'll have to do even better. We go there to win – nothing changes for us. We'll have to play a great match. If we do, we'll go through."

For Danilo, Mbappe is simply the best player in the world at the moment, one who offers something different to his rivals.

"Mbappe isn't a player like others. He showed that with his goal. For me, right now, he's the best," he said to RMC Sport.

"I'm happy. We won, and we played a huge game against a great side. It's always good to win at home."

Kylian Mbappe believes his performance and match-winning goal against Real Madrid proved his commitment to Paris Saint-Germain – though he once again refused to shut down speculation around his future.

Much of the focus heading into PSG's Champions League last-16 tie with Madrid was focused on Mbappe due to Los Blancos' long-standing interest in him.

The France star is in the final six months of his PSG contract and, according to reports, is likely to join Madrid at the end of the season.

But he left no doubt as to his commitment to PSG so long as he wears their jersey, producing an excellent individual performance and getting the winning goal in Tuesday's 1-0 home victory.

Mbappe had seven shots in all, drawing a couple of crucial saves from Thibaut Courtois, and also won the penalty that Lionel Messi failed to convert.

And just when Madrid looked to have survived a late onslaught, Mbappe jinked between two defenders and shot through Courtois' legs deep into stoppage time, giving PSG the advantage ahead of the second leg on March 9.

Asked how he managed to ignore the context around the game, Mbappe told Canal Plus: "It's easy, you have to play football.

"We ask too many questions, we say too many things. We talk about PSG and Madrid, two great clubs. I'm a PSG player, I'm always very happy.

"I said I was going to give it my all and I had to prove it with facts. I did it for the first time, we will have to prove it a second time at the Santiago Bernabeu.

"We wanted to be ready for these great nights. We dream of these kinds of nights. We wanted to win, we were pushed by our fans."

Some PSG fans surely hoped Mbappe might use the moment to declare he was staying at PSG, though any such fantasies would have been naive, as the 23-year-old again left the door open to speculation.

"I play for one of the best teams in the world," he added. "I'm going to give 100 per cent throughout the season and then we'll see."

A fixture worthy of the final, and a goal fit to win any game of football.

Paris Saint-Germain versus Real Madrid was billed as the tie of the round of 16, the Champions League kings against the would-be usurpers, old money versus new. More than that, it was the match to decide the future of Kylian Mbappe: parent club and suitors, battling for the right to call him their own next season. It was the sporting equivalent of a divorced couple fighting over the family dog, waiting to see who he runs to.

At full-time, it was 1-0 to PSG, a deserved win at the end of probably their best performance under Mauricio Pochettino. It was Mbappe, of course, who scored the goal at the death, reminding home and away teams why getting him to sign their contract might be the most important thing they do for years.

This tie and that tale are far from over.

The word from Spain is that Mbappe's signing is as good as done. Indeed, he might as well play with a Madrid shirt concealed underneath his PSG colours, ready to tear off the disguise and reveal his true identity as Florentino Perez's latest galactico. You can already see the Superman segment on El Chiringuito.

In Paris, they whisper a different story, one in which Mbappe may yet be convinced to sign a new deal and fulfil his dreams in his home city alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar.

The truth is nobody but Mbappe knows for certain what he wants to do, but there was an undeniable feeling on Tuesday that he might have outgrown his surroundings. Already the best player in France, perhaps he sees lighting up LaLiga as the next logical step towards a football legacy.

When Barcelona pulled off that incomprehensible comeback against PSG five years ago, Neymar was the star. It was his three-minute double that pushed Barca to the brink of an impossible 6-1 victory, and his pass to Sergi Roberto that delivered it. Yet it was Messi who took centre stage in the club's post-match footage and imagery; according to some reports, thus were sown the seeds of Neymar's longing to break free of Camp Nou shackles, ending in that €222million transfer.

It was hard not to think of that as Mbappe, midway through the second half here, watched Messi take and miss the penalty he had won.

If this really was the 'Mbappe derby', he looked happy – even determined – to embrace it as such, even if that wasn't always the best course of action. He skipped and step-overed his way into the box and shot straight into a packed Madrid defence when the cut-back to Messi was obvious. He led poor Dani Carvajal a merry dance, charging straight at him or cutting infield, the full-back little better at guessing his next move than the thousands of spectators who cheered his every touch. Just past the hour, Carvajal gave up on subtlety and decided hurling himself into the forward's legs was the only way to stop him. The only surprise was that Messi, not Mbappe, took the spot-kick that was saved by Thibaut Courtois.

For all Mbappe's efforts, there was no breakthrough. Madrid had defended stoutly, their attempts to attack given up in the opening minutes. David Alaba and Eder Militao marshalled the rearguard expertly, and Courtois showed why he is probably now the world's best goalkeeper. Even Neymar's first appearance since November could not breach the barricades, although they certainly creaked with every blonde-haired burst forward.

But of course Mbappe had the final say, and with practically the final kick. Neymar backheeled it, Mbappe flowed fleet-footed through a gap, and the ball was beneath Courtois via a tiny, telling deflection before his long legs could hit the ground. It was a 94th-minute winner, delivered with the speed and precision of the first move of a training session.

Mbappe wheeled away, arms outstretched, team-mates chasing in his wake, the Parc des Princes a living roar. His moment, his night, his team. But which one?

Kylian Mbappe fittingly scored a brilliant last-gasp winner as Paris Saint-Germain beat Real Madrid 1-0 in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

Much of the build-up to the match focused on Mbappe, given the expectation that he will join Madrid at the end of the season, and he ultimately made the difference at the Parc des Princes.

It looked as though PSG were going to be frustrated, as the France striker had previously been thwarted on a few occasions by Thibaut Courtois, who also saved a Lionel Messi penalty that Mbappe won.

But with time almost up, Mbappe finally got his goal to give PSG a slender advantage ahead of the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu.


Paris Saint-Germain captain Marquinhos is convinced Kylian Mbappe will be at ease with the prospect of facing Real Madrid amid the backdrop of intense speculation linking him with a move to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Mbappe has been a long-term target of Madrid's and was the subject of more than one huge bids last year, but PSG held firm, adamant they could persuade him to sign a new deal.

Half a year on and Mbappe is into the final six months of his PSG contract, with everything pointing towards a likely free transfer to Madrid at the end of the season.

As such, all eyes will be on the France star as PSG take on Madrid in their upcoming last-16 tie in the Champions League.

Madrid visit Paris on Tuesday looking to get the upper hand, but Marquinhos has no doubts about Mbappe's state of mind.

Asked on Monday if beating Madrid over the two legs could convince Mbappe to stay at PSG, Marquinhos replied: "That is not the goal. The goal is to play well because even though it's over two legs, we know the home leg is particularly important.

"We are at home, and we will try to get a good result, play well and win. We want to score goals as that is important.

"We want Kylian to be as comfortable and happy as possible. He is still quite young and very strong mentally.

"He knows how to navigate the moments he is living through. He is confident, and we can see how he is doing on the pitch.

"He is at ease with the situation, happy to play with us, and we will make the most of that so he can be decisive for us. I hope he does that with us tomorrow, and he has his choices to make."

PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino is thought to be under significant pressure heading into this tie, with recent reports claiming he could be dismissed if they fail to reach the quarter-finals.

Yet he does not think there is greater pressure on PSG to prevail, suggesting they remain "pretenders" in a competition they have not yet won.

"I don't think there's more pressure on one side than the other," he said. "We respect Madrid given the history and trophies – they have won the most Champions League titles, 13, which shows that it's not just about players or coaching staff, but the strength within the structure internally at the club.

"Whenever you win trophies, it's down to a combination of factors where clubs can show their power, even more so in the Champions League.

"I don't think there is a favourite. It's a tie that could be a final, given the names, players and quality. Madrid have been winning this competition for 50 years – PSG are the pretenders.

"And now we are trying to get closer to that dream. I have total confidence in my team and players, and the supporters who give us energy."

The Champions League returns on Tuesday as the round of 16 gets underway, and what a way to kick things off.

Paris Saint-Germain host Real Madrid in what is widely considered to be the tie of the round, with particular interest in PSG duo Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe for differing reasons.

Sporting CP welcome Manchester City to the Estadio Jose Alvalade in the other first-leg encounter, with Ruben Amorim's men hoping to spring a surprise against the champions of England.

What do the numbers say about the opening games of the Champions League knockout stage, though? Stats Perform takes a look to decipher who is likeliest to come out on top.

Paris Saint-Germain v Real Madrid

Real Madrid have a slight edge over PSG in their 10 previous meetings in European competition, having won four and lost three. The French side lead 2-1 in the head-to-head in the knockout stages, eliminating Madrid from the 1992-93 UEFA Cup quarter-final and the 1993-94 Cup Winners' Cup quarter-final.

The last meeting between the two came in the group stage of the 2019-20 Champions League, a 2-2 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu. PSG won the previous game at Parc des Princes 3-0, and ultimately finished five points ahead of Madrid in Group A.

Los Blancos did win their last Champions League knockout game in Paris, beating PSG 2-1 in the round-of-16 second leg in 2017-18.

PSG will hope to improve their home record, having won just one of their past six such Champions League knockout games, a run including four defeats.

Since the start of the 2020-21 campaign, Mbappe – who is being linked with a move to Madrid when his contract expires at the end of the season – has been involved in more open-play sequences ending in goals (17) than any other player in the Champions League. He also has the highest expected goals sequence involvement of any player in this period (16.4).

Mbappe's France team-mate Karim Benzema, who is battling to be fit for the game, has found the net in each of his past four outings in the Champions League. Should he do so again on Tuesday, he will become just the third player to score in five consecutive appearances for Madrid in the competition, after Cristiano Ronaldo (four times, between 2013 and 2018) and Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2007.

The Spanish giants won all three of their away games in the group stage without conceding a goal. The only previous Champions League campaign in which they won their first four away games was in 2014-15, during Carlo Ancelotti’s first spell in charge.


Sporting CP v Manchester City

Sporting and City have only ever faced each other twice in European competition, which was their two legs in the round of 16 in the 2011-12 Europa League, with the Portuguese side going through on away goals.

City have only won once in their past six matches in Portugal (D2 L3), including their 1-0 defeat in last year's Champions League final to Chelsea in Porto.

This will be just the second time Sporting have played in the Champions League round of 16, with the previous occasion seeing them lose 12-1 on aggregate to Bayern Munich in 2008-09, the largest aggregate defeat in the competition's history.

City have kept just one clean sheet in their previous 11 matches in the Champions League and conceded at least once in all six group games this season. Still, should they win this game, Pep Guardiola's team will be the first in Champions League history to win five consecutive away games in the knockout stages.

Sporting boss Amorim, at 37 years and 19 days old, will be the second-youngest Portuguese coach to take charge of a Champions League knockout-stage tie after Andre Villas-Boas (34 years and 127 days) with Chelsea against Napoli in 2011-12. Villas-Boas was sacked prior to the second leg.

Among Portuguese players, only Ronaldo (six goals) has been directly involved in more Champions League goals this season than Sporting’s Pedro Goncalves (five – four scored, one assisted) and Manchester City’s Joao Cancelo (five – two scored, three assisted).

Saturday's 4-0 win at Norwich City was the first time Riyad Mahrez has failed to score for City since early December. The first of his seven-game scoring run was the final Champions League group clash, a 2-1 defeat at RB Leipzig.

Mahrez has also scored nine goals in his past 10 appearances in the Champions League and has been directly involved in six goals in his most recent six games in the knockout rounds (four scored, two assisted). Since the start of last season, Mahrez has scored at least four goals more in the competition than any other City player (Gabriel Jesus is next with five).

The pursuit of 21-year-old Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Haaland is well known.

Manchester City, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea, Manchester United and Bayern Munich have all been linked with Haaland.

The race is set to heat up, with Haaland reportedly holding a €75 million (£68m) release clause in his Dortmund contract which triggers at the end of the current season.


Football Insider reports that Man City are in the box seat to sign Haaland in a major development with his father Alf-Inge Haaland's connection with the club.

Alf-Inge played with City from 2000 to 2003 and is telling Erling to join the club ahead of other suitors.

City's Abu Dhabi owners are set to launch a concerted pursuit for the Norwegian and will be able to meet his release clause.

Madrid 's bid to sign Haaland may be aided by Adidas, who are associated with the club and looking to bring him on board, after his deal with Nike expired at the end of January.


- ESPN reports that Lyon are preparing a significant offer for Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette, whose contract expires at the end of this season. Lacazette joined the Gunners from Lyon in 2017.

- El Nacional claims that Madrid are open to selling Brazilian midfielder Casemiro, who is being targeted by PSG. Casemiro is a regular but his sale may open up funds for moves for Kylian Mbappe and Haaland.

- Franck Kessie will depart Milan when his contract expires at the end of this season, reports Calciomercato, with Barcelona entering the race to sign the midfielder, and Tottenham also interested.

- Sport claims that Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta already has an agreement in principle to join Barcelona on a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of the season.

- Edinson Cavani will exit Manchester United at the end of his contract in June, with Spain his preferred destination rather than returning to South America according to Fabrizio Romano.

A late goal from Kylian Mbappe saw Paris Saint-Germain extend their lead at the top of Ligue 1 to 16 points with a 1-0 win against Rennes on Friday.

The PSG number seven had been his team's brightest spark but had to wait until the 93rd minute for a trademark goal from Lionel Messi's pass to spark relief at the Parc des Princes.

To that point, this had hardly been a performance from Mauricio Pochettino's men to leave their upcoming Champions League opponents Real Madrid quaking in their boots.

But Mbappe made the difference against the only side to have beaten PSG in the league so far this season.

Keylor Navas was forced to tip the ball behind in the seventh minute when Benjamin Bourigeaud's volley into the ground threatened to loop in before the goalkeeper intervened.

Mbappe was predictably a thorn in the side of the away team and came close to giving PSG the lead late in the first half when he bent a shot just wide of the far post from the left corner of the penalty area and then hit the post shortly afterwards.

The dynamic Mbappe had the ball in the net on 64 minutes when he raced onto a Messi throughball and rounded Dogan Alemdar before slotting in, but the flag went up and the goal was chalked off.

It looked like the hosts would have to settle for a point only for Messi to find Mbappe just inside the penalty area, and he made no mistake as he placed a low shot past Alemdar and into the net past Alemdar's.

Things have not quite gone to plan for Cristiano Ronaldo in his second coming at Manchester United.

The Red Devils are out of both domestic cup competitions and sit well off the pace of Premier League leaders Manchester City, making an unlikely Champions League triumph their remaining hope for silverware this season.

Ronaldo is enduring a five-game goal drought and, according to a report, he could choose to end his second United spell after only one season.



Cristiano Ronaldo will speak with his agent after growing disillusioned with life at Manchester United, according to the Daily Star.

The forward is hoping to speak with Jorge Mendes when he is back in Portugal for March's World Cup play-off against Turkey about his options after the end of the season.

Ronaldo, whose contract runs until the end of 2022-23, wants to see who will be appointed as United's next permanent manager – but he is not in favour of giving the job to interim boss Ralf Rangnick.


- Paul Pogba is also looking to leave Manchester United this year when his contract expires, but he will have to accept a pay cut to get a move abroad that he wants, the Mirror says.

- A possible replacement for Pogba could be Youri Tielemans. Het Nieuwsblad reports Leicester City have dropped their asking price for the midfielder, who is wanted by United and Arsenal.

Real Madrid rejected the idea of signing Dusan Vlahovic, now at Juventus, because they are putting everything into getting Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, says Cadena Ser.

- However, AS reports Madrid are still seriously interested in Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland, which could scupper Robert Lewandowski's hopes of moving to the Spanish capital.

Juve defender Matthijs de Ligt is flattered by interest from Chelsea and Barcelona, Sport Mediaset claims.

Barca are also desperate to sign Haaland and will therefore prioritise cut-price deals for defenders, says ESPN. Chelsea trio Cesar AzpilicuetaAndreas Christensen and Marcos Alonso are on their shortlist.

Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland and Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe remain arguably the two most sought-after players in world football.

The pair, who boast 43 goals in 50 games between them this season, have inevitably been linked with an array of Europe's top clubs ahead of the next transfer window.

And it may well be that one replaces the other at PSG in the coming months.


L'Equipe reports that Haaland is one of a handful of players being eyed up by PSG, who are growing increasingly concerned that Mbappe will join Real Madrid on a free transfer.

However, the Ligue 1 giants are said to have made tying down Mbappe to fresh terms their main priority between now and the end of the season.

Should the World Cup winner depart, PSG would then have to see off competition from the likes of Madrid, Barcelona and several Premier League teams for Haaland's signature.


- Harry Kane failed in his attempt to force through a move from Tottenham last year, but Fabrizio Romano claims the striker is now happy to stay under Antonio Conte.

- After further enhancing his reputation by firing Senegal to Africa Cup of Nations glory, Goal reports that Sadio Mane is open to leaving Liverpool ahead of next season.

- According to Fabrizio Romano, Madrid are eager to finalise terms with Luka Modric over a new deal that will run through for an additional season until the end of 2022-23.

- Ajax are prepared to tempt Barcelona into allowing Sergino Dest to return to the club by offering Nicolas Tagliafico in exchange. That is according to reports from Spain.

- Calciomercato reports that Milan are close to agreeing a four-year extension for full-back Theo Hernandez, who is currently due to be out of contract in July 2024.

Karim Benzema leads the LaLiga scoring charts this term with 17 goals.

But Real Madrid are set to revamp their attacking options if transfer speculation is true.

Benzema turned 34 in December and is contracted until 2023.


Madrid top scorer Benzema has requested a meeting with president Florentino Perez over concerns on his future with Erling Haaland's potential addition, reports Onze.

Los Blancos are set to be bolstered by forwardKylian Mbappe's arrival in the off-season to form an attacking trio alongside Benzema and Vinicius Junior.

But Haaland's potential move from Borussia Dortmund has left Benzema fearing he may lose his spot.


- Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger is being lined up by Bayern Munich as their ideal replacement for Niklas Sule, claims Fichajes. Sule has confirmed his exit to Borussia Dortmund for next season.

- Juventus have a new plan ahead of fresh contract talks with Paulo Dybala, according to Calciomercato. Dybala is unsigned beyond this season.

- Manchester United and Brazilian giants Flamengo have agreed to a £12m fee for the permanent sale of Andreas Pereira, reports Universo.

- Atletico Madrid, who are looking to replace the departed Kieran Trippier, are set to make a €30m offer for Aston Villa full-back Matty Cash, claims Mundo Deportivo.

- Calciomercato reports that Milan still have an eye on Club Brugge's Dutch talent Noa Lang.

Kylian Mbappe has denied he has already decided to join Real Madrid at the end of the season.

The Paris Saint-Germain striker spoke about what the future might hold after his fine strike put the seal on a 5-1 win over Lille in Ligue 1 on Sunday.

German newspaper Bild recently reported Mbappe and Madrid had reached an agreement that would see the France international move to the Santiago Bernabeu.

Mbappe's contract at PSG is due to expire at the end of the season, and although the French club are keen for him to sign an extension, it is unclear whether that is under consideration. Madrid's interest is no secret, after they tried to sign Mbappe in August.

The 23-year-old Mbappe would be able to leave on a free transfer, but the fact PSG have drawn Madrid in the Champions League last-16 stage appears to have held up any direct talks.

The European giants will go head to head in Paris on February 15 and in Madrid on March 9, with Mbappe steadfast that he wants to help PSG win that tie.

Asked whether he has already decided his next step, or whether the Madrid game could influence his choice of club, Mbappe told Amazon Prime Sport Video: "No, my decision hasn't been taken.

"The fact we play against Real Madrid, that changes a lot of things. Even if I'm free to do what I want at the moment, I'm not going to go and talk with the opposition or do this sort of thing.

"I'm concentrated on winning against Real Madrid, to try to make the difference. And after that, we'll see what will happen."

Mbappe and Lionel Messi are striking up a strong on-pitch relationship, with Messi looking to find Mbappe 12 times during the win at Lille and Mbappe playing eight passes to the seven-time Ballon d'Or winner, only seeking out Marco Verratti more often (10 passes).

Messi scored his second Ligue 1 goal and his first since November, ending a six-game drought in the competition, delivering a performance that might cause concern in Madrid.

He also played a more central role than has often been the case, and Mbappe, who took his league haul to a team-high 11 goals for the campaign, liked what he saw from the former Barcelona star.

"I'm not a coach. But Leo, he's a player who needs to touch the ball, to feel the game and the match, to be involved too," Mbappe said.

"So I think it's a good position for him. He's free, he can move, pick up the ball, he is close to the goal. I think that for him, it's a good position."

Mbappe is starting on the left of a front three, with the only worry from Sunday's match being that Angel Di Maria, who began on the right, was substituted shortly before half-time, having seemed uncomfortable.

Neymar will soon be back from injury, and Mbappe said: "We will also have to configure with Ney, because he is also an important player. He changes our team, so we'll see when he comes back. We hope he comes back as soon as possible."

Cameroon captain Vincent Aboubakar has not been impressed by Mohamed Salah's displays and says the forward cannot consider himself on the same level as Kylian Mbappe.

Salah has scored two and set up another in five matches in Egypt's run to the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals, where hosts Cameroon await in Yaounde on Thursday.

The 29-year-old has also enjoyed another prolific campaign at club level, having scored 23 goals in 26 games for Liverpool in all competitions.

That compares to 19 goals in 29 matches for Paris Saint-Germain star Mbappe, who has made a slow start to 2022 with one goal in his first four appearances.

Indeed, Robert Lewandowski (34 in 28) and Karim Benzema (24 in 28) are the only players to outscore Salah among those from Europe's top five leagues this term.

However, speaking ahead of Thursday's meeting between Cameroon and Egypt, Aboubakar insists Salah is not currently on the same level as Mbappe.

"He is having a great season in the Premier League and is helping his country to advance in the competition. I wish him a lot of luck. May the best win," Aboubakar told RFI.

"He doesn't impress me much. I say it clearly because I'm an honest person and I have my way of seeing things.

"If he impressed me, I would say so. But he doesn't impress me much. He's a good player, he scores a lot but he doesn't produce a lot of stuff in the game.

"Of course, he's doing good stuff in the Premier League because he's been in a team that's been there for years. He's a good player but not at the level of some like Mbappe."

After scoring and assisting in the 2-1 quarter-final win against Morocco, Salah has been involved in 62 per cent of Egypt's AFCON goals since his competition debut in 2017 (8/13).

He trails Aboubakar in the race to be crowned the delayed 2021 edition's top scorer, though, with the Cameroon skipper leading the charts thanks to his six goals.

That is one goal more than team-mate Karl Toko Ekambi, with the pair responsible for all 11 of the hosts' goals up to this point.

Asked about his blossoming partnership with Toko Ekambi, Aboubakar said: "We are complementary to each other, but the most important thing is for the team to win.

"If me, Karl or any other player manages to score and Cameroon win, that's the most important thing. We must raise Cameroon to the top in this competition."

Jonathan Woodgate has backed Kylian Mbappe to "flourish" at Real Madrid and "be even bigger than he is in Paris Saint-Germain" if he makes the move, but the regeneration of Los Blancos' midfield is of greater concern to the former defender.

Mbappe is widely expected to leave PSG for Madrid on a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of the season.

The World Cup winner, who has 10 goals and nine assists in Ligue 1 this term, would boost Madrid in attack, but Carlo Ancelotti is not exactly short of firepower – his side's 47 goals the most in LaLiga and eighth-most in Europe's top five leagues.

And in striker Karim Benzema and winger Vinicius Junior, arguably Madrid's best two players occupy the positions Mbappe likes to operate in.

Benzema is 34 but has never been better, scoring 17 and assisting seven, with only Mohamed Salah (25) topping his 24 goal involvements in Europe's top-five leagues. The ever-improving Vinicius has 12 goals and five assists.

Asked by Stats Perform about Mbappe's potential transfer, Woodgate turned his focus instead to the middle of the pitch, where 32-year-old Toni Kroos (1,261) and 36-year-old Luka Modric (1,196) rank second and third for minutes played.

"[Mbappe] will be the biggest signing of the summer, if it goes through," said Woodgate, who played for Madrid between 2004 and 2007. "On a free transfer as well, it's incredible.

"He is a Galactico signing, one of the best players in the world, he'll flourish in Madrid, he'll be even bigger than he is in Paris Saint-Germain.

"But what concerns me in Madrid is with the likes of Modric, Kroos and Casemiro. That three in midfield are all getting to that stage where they're 35, 34 and then Casemiro. They need to start replacing them.

"Okay, they've got [Federico] Valverde, whatever, but that's the main area they need to start recruiting at.

"That three has been around for years and years and years. It's an incredible three in midfield, so it'll be interesting how they replace them three moving forward."

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