Newcastle defender Kieran Trippier is relishing the task of ruining Kylian Mbappe’s Champions League trip to Tyneside even if it might upset his son.

Magpies full-back Trippier is likely to be in direct competition with the Paris St Germain superstar when the clubs go head-to-head in Group F at St James’ Park on Wednesday evening.

However, he has revealed his son Jacob is a huge fan of Mbappe – who was seen calling for his gloves as he and his team-mates trained at an autumnal St James’ on Tuesday evening – and that has been a bone of contention in the lead up to an eagerly-anticipated game.

 

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Trippier said with a smile: “I was having a bit of banter with him last night and he said he wanted to walk out with Mbappe instead of me. I wasn’t really happy with that.

“He’s obsessed with him, always watching his clips on YouTube. I said to him, ‘If you get to walk out with Mbappe, you don’t look at me in the tunnel’.”

Trippier saw how dangerous Mbappe can be at close hand at last year’s World Cup finals, where he watched from the bench as France dumped England out at the quarter-final stage, and has also come up against the supremely-talented 24-year-old on the pitch on more than one occasion in the past.

He said: “I played against him – I think it might have been his debut game for Monaco – when I was at Tottenham, and I played against him for England on my debut – it’s quite a few years ago.

“This is football. These are the games you want as a player, playing in the Champions League, playing against the best players, the best teams. Paris have got unbelievable players in the team.

“Of course we need to recognise that Mbappe is one of the best players in the world, but they’ve got quality all over the pitch and we can’t be too fixed on them.

“We need to play our way because on our day, we can hurt anyone.”

For head coach Eddie Howe, the task is to put together a side which can extend an unbeaten five-game run in all competitions and build upon the start they achieved with a 0-0 draw at AC Milan in their opening fixture.

He will have to do so, however, without key defender Sven Botman and in all likelihood, with midfielder Joelinton and striker Callum Wilson also missing through injury.

The fixture, which rekindles memories of a famous 3-2 victory over Barcelona in the same competition in 1997, is a measure of the progress Newcastle have made in the two years since Amanda Staveley’s consortium launched its successful takeover and Howe, who arrived a few weeks later, admits the speed of progress has taken everyone by surprise.

He said: “Things move really quickly in football. I haven’t been here the whole two years, but my part of it has absolutely flown by.

“Initially, nothing like this was in our thoughts, the speed at which it’s happened. The only thing in our thoughts was staying in the Premier League initially.

“But the swing of momentum has shifted so powerfully and quickly in a positive direction for us. My only thought is to keep that momentum for as long as we can.”

A positive result against PSG would provide further evidence of the strides which have been taken, and Trippier insists victory, rather than football tourism, is his only focus.

Asked if he would be chasing Mbappe’s shirt after the final whistle, he said: “That has not crossed my mind. My thought process is to win.”

Kylian Mbappe is available for Paris St Germain’s Ligue 1 clash with Clermont on Saturday but could be rested ahead of the Champions League trip to Newcastle.

The France forward was forced off early in last weekend’s 4-0 hammering of Marseille with an ankle injury and boss Luis Enrique must decide whether to risk him in the meeting against the league’s bottom side.

Mbappe trained away from the rest of the squad on Thursday but was back with his team-mates on Friday.

“Kylian Mbappe trained with the squad today, he’s available,” said Enrique on PSG TV. “He has had some treatment and done some specific sessions, but he’s in shape to play.”

The defending champions made a shaky start to the season, drawing with Lorient and Toulouse and losing to Nice, and sit third in the table behind Brest and Nice heading into the weekend.

But the result against big rivals Marseille coupled with a Champions League victory over Borussia Dortmund has put a different complexion on things.

“Confidence comes with good results,” said Enrique. “We had some difficult results early in the season but, when you win, everything is great, and confidence builds with victories.

“There’s a lot of things to improve. In a learning process, there is always a phase at the start where you have to learn a lot.

“We’re still in that phase. I’ve been very happy with the players since I took over but we’re still far from the level we want to achieve in attack and defence.”

Clermont have taken only one point from their first six matches, conceding 12 goals in the process, but Enrique believes that belies their quality.

“They don’t deserve to be bottom of the table,” he said. “They play good football, work well, and last season had a very solid base. They’re one of the best teams defensively.

“It’s an important game because it comes a few days before a Champions League away game. We mustn’t drop off and underestimate our opponents. It won’t be an easy game.”

PSG, meanwhile, announced on Friday that left-back Nuno Mendes is expected to be out for a further four months after undergoing surgery on his hamstring in Finland.

The 21-year-old Portugal international suffered the injury in July and an operation has now been deemed the best option in his recovery.

Enrique said: “For Nuno Mendes, we have to be careful with all of that.

“We’ve got enough strength in depth but we have to find solutions because the season is long.”

Paris St Germain fell to their first defeat of the season as Nice stunned the Ligue 1 champions with a 3-2 win at the Parc des Princes.

Terem Moffi scored a goal in each half for the visitors with Gaetan Laborde also on the mark as Francesco Farioli’s side raced into a 3-1 lead, after Kylian Mbappe had equalised in the first half.

Mbappe struck again three minutes from time to set up a tense finish but Luis Enrique saw his team succumb to a first loss of his tenure as Nice leapfrogged them into second place in the table, a point behind leaders Monaco.

It was the worst possible start to a run of three difficult matches that sees PSG kick off their Champions League campaign at home to Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday before facing Marseille in the league next weekend.

They had been buoyed by the presence of Mbappe in the starting XI after he survived an injury scare whilst on international duty with France, but it was the striker who was at fault for Nice to take the lead in the 21st minute, giving the ball away in his own half and allowing Moffi to score with a deflected effort past Gianluigi Donnarumma on the break.

The 24-year-old made amends minutes later when Achraf Hakimi got clear down the right and cut the ball back for Mbappe to side-foot past the goalkeeper for his sixth goal in four league games and make it 1-1.

Moffi turned provider shortly after the restart as Nice regained the lead, another breakaway move seeing the striker hold the ball up well and cross for Laborde to volley home with Donnarumma stranded.

And the pair combined again as Nice went 3-1 ahead midway through the second half, Moffi playing a one-two with Laborde before making room to drill the ball into the corner despite the attentions of Milan Skriniar and Lucas Hernandez.

Mbappe set up a grandstand finish when he volleyed Randal Kolo Muani’s cross into the ground and up over the goalkeeper three minutes from the end.

But it was not enough to deny Nice a famous win at the start of Enrique’s toughest week in charge.

Luis Enrique said Kylian Mbappe is in a good state of mind to return to his Paris Saint Germain side ahead of Saturday’s Ligue 1 meeting with Toulouse.

The striker was absent from the squad for the opening-weekend goalless draw with Lorient following a tumultuous summer in which a dispute over his future left him training separately from the first team.

The 23-year-old has only a year to run on his current contract and has stated his reluctance to sign renewed terms, but has been brought back into the fold and is in line play on Saturday.

The manager said he is happy to have a player of the World Cup-winner’s ability available as he looks to win the title in his first season in charge.

“I am very happy to have a world-class player like Kylian,” said Enrique. “He is in great shape, he has a lot of desire, a very good state of mind.”

It will be PSG’s first game in Ligue 1 since world-record signing Neymar departed to sign for Al-Hilal in Saudi Arabia.

Enrique managed the Brazilian during the time together at Barcelona, winning the Champions League in 2015, but the 31-year-old had recently made clear his desire to leave the club he joined for £190million in 2017.

He made 173 appearances for PSG after signing from Barcelona in 2017, helping the club win 13 trophies, including five Ligue 1 titles, as well as reaching the final of the Champions League in 2020.

The manager said that despite Mbappe’s return there would still be attacking reinforcements required following Neymar’s departure.

“He is a world-class player and I wish him well for the future,” said Enrique.

“We still need to strengthen (in attack) because it is the where we had the fewest recruits. We still have work to do on how they complement each other.”

The former Barca manager, who replaced Christophe Galtier as manager of the Ligue 1 champions in July, said he is yet to select a new team captain and yet may yet allow his squad to pick whom they wish to lead them this season.

“There are four captains (in the squad) – that something that is defined by the players, not by the coach. I want him (who the players choose) to be their captain, not my captain.”

The club was boosted by the news on Friday that goalkeeper Sergio Rico has been discharged from the hospital,  three months after he sustained a head injury following an accident with a loose horse.

Paris St Germain are ready to integrate Kylian Mbappe back into the first-team squad, according to reports.

The France captain’s future in the capital city has seemed uncertain following links with a move to Real Madrid and reports earlier this week that he was frozen out of senior training.

Mbappe was told to stay away after he refused to activate an option to extend his current contract to 2025, meaning the superstar would be free to negotiate a free transfer to foreign clubs in January.

 

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He was not involved as PSG began their Ligue 1 campaign in underwhelming fashion with a goalless draw against Lorient, with Neymar also not included in the matchday squad.

But before the game Mbappe and the club are reported to have held positive talks that will see the 24-year-old return to Luis Enrique’s squad.

A club statement on Sunday, reported by French newspaper L’Equipe, read: “After very constructive and positive discussions between Paris St Germain and Kylian Mbappe before the PSG-Lorient match, the player was reinstated in the first training team this morning.”

Boss Enrique had said before the game that he was confident of a positive outcome.

“It is something that has already happened in the past and there was a positive solution before I was here,” he said in his pre-match press conference.

“I hope and wish that, just like in the past, the same thing will happen again and that the club and the player will reach an agreement.”

Kylian Mbappe will be barred from training with Paris St Germain’s main first-team group as his contract dispute with the club continues, the PA news agency understands.

PSG return to their training base on Monday following their pre-season tour of Japan and South Korea, but Mbappe will be part of the so-called ‘loft’ training group rather than the first team as his stand-off with the club drags on.

PSG sources remain convinced the player, who is out of contract next summer, has already agreed a free transfer deal with Real Madrid.

Mbappe’s management are understood to have refused to engage with an offer from the club to sign a new contract containing a guaranteed sale clause, which would allow him to join another club for a fee next summer.

From PSG’s perspective, there is no reason why he would turn down the offer, because it gives him the opportunity to leave when he wants and join the club he wants.

PSG had given Al Hilal permission to speak to the player after they tabled a world record bid of £259million last month, but Mbappe reportedly refused to even meet with delegates from the Saudi club who had flown to Paris.

Chelsea and Barcelona are understood to be two of the clubs trying to work out a player-plus-cash deal for Mbappe, who was part of France’s World Cup-winning squad in 2018 and also one of the stars of the last tournament in Qatar.

PSG kick off their 2023/24 Ligue 1 campaign at home to Lorient on Saturday.

Kylian Mbappe and his representatives refused to meet with Al Hilal officials in Paris on Wednesday to discuss a possible world-record transfer to Saudi Arabia, it has been reported.

Mbappe’s club Paris St Germain are understood to have given the Saudi Pro League side permission to speak with the France striker over personal terms after receiving a £259million bid for the player in writing.

An Al Hilal delegation was reported to have been hoping to sell their project to Mbappe in Paris while finalising the signing of Brazil striker Malcom from Zenit St Petersburg.

But, according to French sports newspaper L’Equipe, Mbappe and his team have refused to enter into any discussions with the Saudi club and he has never considered the option.

Mbappe’s PSG future has been in serious doubt since it emerged in June that he would not extend his existing deal through to 2025, meaning he would become a free agent next summer and be able to discuss a pre-contract agreement with another club as early as January.

PSG have not confirmed the reports that Mbappe has snubbed Al Hilal’s approach, but are understood to be convinced that Mbappe has already agreed a free transfer to Real Madrid next summer.

Parisian sources have said the 24-year-old would benefit from a 160m euro (£138m) signing-on fee if he wound down his existing contract and moved to the Spanish capital in 2024.

Premier League chief executive Richard Masters is “not too concerned” for now about Saudi Arabia’s ascendancy in football as he reasoned it takes time to become a dominant force.

Al Hilal submitted a world-record £259million offer for Paris St Germain forward Kylian Mbappe, who has 12 months left on his current deal and been given permission to speak to the Saudi club.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema have already joined the country’s Pro League while Liverpool have agreed a deal with Al-Ettifaq – managed by Steven Gerrard – to sell their captain Jordan Henderson.

“Something new is obviously happening,” Masters told BBC Sport. “The Saudi Pro League have stated they want to be a top 10 league by 2030.

“They are investing in players and managers to try to raise the profile of the league and clubs.

“It has taken us 30 years to get to the position that we have in terms of profile, competitiveness and the revenue streams that we have.

“I wouldn’t be too concerned at the moment but, obviously, Saudi Arabian clubs have as much right to purchase players as any other league does.

“In the end, the Premier League is a £6billion-a-year operation in terms of revenue and that money is spent reinvested into the pitch. All good competitions have to have revenue streams to back them up.”

Saudi Pro League club Al Hilal have submitted a world record 300 million euro (£259m) bid for Paris St Germain forward Kylian Mbappe, the PA news agency understands.

Mbappe’s future in Paris is in serious doubt after the 24-year-old was left out of the club’s pre-season tour of Japan.

PA understands Al Hilal have submitted a bid in writing for the player, who is out of contract next summer.

Sources close to the French club say there has also been interest in the player from other clubs in recent days, including Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham, Inter Milan and Barcelona.

The current world record transfer fee was paid by PSG, when they signed Neymar from Barcelona for a deal reported at the time as £200m.

Kylian Mbappe must head to either LaLiga or the Premier League if he wishes to compete at the top level, believes ex-Barcelona forward Hristo Stoichkov.

The Paris Saint-Germain superstar is the subject of another visible public struggle over his future with the Ligue 1 champions amid a contract stand-off.

Having turned down joining Real Madrid last year in favour of a new two-year deal at Parc des Princes, the World Cup-winning forward is now refusing to sign an extension.

That has led to the 24-year-old being dropped for his side's pre-season tour of Asia, and Stoichkov believes Mbappe must force the move abroad if he is to truly challenge himself.

"He is a great player," he told Stats Perform. "We have spoken off camera and he has told me that his greater dream is to win the Ballon d'Or. It is difficult to reach his level and even more so to stay at that level.

"Perhaps PSG opted for him, for [Lionel] Messi, for Neymar, for Sergio Ramos and for [Gianluigi] Donnarumma to have a competitive team and be able to win the Champions League, but it couldn't be.

"If Mbappe wants to compete big, he has to go to the Spanish league or the Premier [League]. In England, there are teams that can sign him, [like] Manchester City, Liverpool or Arsenal.

"But he has to choose the path where he feels most comfortable because it won't be easy. He will have a lot more pressure and with the press on him.

"Kylian is a great guy and very humble. Some say that he is arrogant, but he is not. He is very well off, and he knows very well what he wants to do.

"Hopefully sooner or later Kylian will have the opportunity to lift the Ballon d'Or because he deserves it."

Following a decade-and-a-half dominated by the powers of Mbappe's former team-mate Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, the illustrious duo's departure from Europe has effectively ended a sporting era.

Stoichkov believes Mbappe sits near the summit of a new group of players looking to be considered the best in the world, predicting a great rivalry with Erling Haaland and Vinicius Junior.

"Now begins another era with big names, as in mine there was Roberto Baggio, [Michael] Laudrup, me, Michel, [Emilio] Butragueno, [Jurgen] Klinsmann or [Lothar] Matthaus, many great players.

"Then this time came with two phenomena like Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo where the two always fought. Now comes another with a litter of fantastic players.

"Haaland, Mbappe, Vinicius, Pedri, Gavi, other players who can get close. In the coming years, we will see a great rivalry between Haaland, Mbappe and Vinicius who are the strikers who make the big difference."

Olivier Giroud and Kylian Mbappe scored for France in their 3-0 victory over Gibraltar in European Championship qualifying.

Giroud netted after only three minutes but a penalty from Mbappe just before half-time was the only other chance that the World Cup finalists converted before a late own goal from Aymen Mouelhi as France maintained their 100 per cent record in Group B.

In Group C, Ukraine fought back from 2-0 down to beat North Macedonia 3-2 and claim their first victory.

Enis Bardhi put the hosts ahead from the penalty spot and Elif Elmas doubled their advantage before the break.

But Illya Zabarnyi and Yukhym Konoplya scored within five minutes of each other to draw Ukraine level and Visar Musliu was then shown a second yellow card for North Macedonia before Viktor Tsygankov grabbed the winner seven minutes from time.

There was also late drama in Group D, where Turkey won their second game with a 3-2 victory over Latvia.

After goals from Abdulkerim Bardakci and Cengiz Under for Turkey either side of Eduards Emsis’ strike, Latvia looked to have secured a point when Kristers Tobers scored deep into injury time.

But Turkey went down the other end and Irfan Can Kahveci netted the winner a minute later.

Four teams are on six points in Group H, with Finland and Kazakhstan joining Denmark and Slovenia.

Teemu Pukki set up goals for Joel Pohjanpalo and Oliver Antman in Finland’s 2-0 win over Slovenia, while Kazakhstan defeated San Marino 3-0.

Switzerland made it three wins from three with a 2-1 victory over Andorra in Group I.

Remo Freuler and Zeki Amdouni put the Swiss two up before half-time but Marcio Vieira pulled one back for Andorra in the 67th minute.

Two late goals helped Israel to a 2-1 victory over Belarus, their first win of the campaign.

Belarus looked to be heading for the three points through Max Ebong’s 16th-minute opener but Shonn Weissman equalised with a penalty five minutes from time and teenager Oscar Gloukh netted an injury-time winner.

Also in Group I, Kosovo secured their third draw, holding Romania to a goalless stalemate in Pristina.

What the papers say

Many of the papers speculate over Kylian Mbappe‘s future after the striker told Paris St Germain he did not want to extend his contract beyond 2024.

Metro says Manchester United will lead the race to sign the 24-year-old if Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani completes his takeover at Old Trafford.

The Times reports Real Madrid is the France international’s “most likely destination”, although Premier League clubs including Chelsea are expected to register their interest. Manchester City had also previously shown an interest in the forward but have since signed Erling Haaland.

Elsewhere, Arsenal are seeking buyers for winger Nicolas Pepe and have no plans to reintegrate the £72 million club-record signing into their first-team squad ahead of next season, the Daily Telegraph says. The 28-year-old spent the 2022-23 campaign on loan at French side Nice.

According to The Guardian, Romelu Lukaku has been offered a deal worth up to £20m a season by Al-Hilal, with Chelsea’s Hakim Ziyech, 30, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 33, and Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez, 32, also being targeted by clubs in Saudi Arabia. Chelsea striker Lukaku spent last season on loan at Inter Milan.

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Manu Kone: The Daily Mail reports that Aston Villa and Wolves are interested in Borussia Monchengladbach’s 22-year-old midfielder, who has also been linked with Liverpool.

David Raya: The Evening Standard says Tottenham are close to agreeing personal terms with the 27-year-old Brentford goalkeeper and hope to negotiate a lower fee with the Bees, who want £40m.

Kylian Mbappe could be on the move this summer following reports the France forward has written to Paris St Germain telling them he would not be signing a new contract.

The 24-year-old, signed from Monaco for £160million in 2018 which was a world-record fee for a teenager, will see his current deal expire next year and PSG must now decide whether to cash in on the prolific striker or risk losing him for free.

Here, the PA news agency looks at a number of potential moves for Mbappe, who became just the second man in history to score a World Cup final hat-trick as France lost on penalties to Argentina in Qatar last year.

Real Madrid

The LaLiga giants have been long-time admirers of Mbappe and would likely to be able to muster the financial clout required to get a deal across the line.
Real have already made a move for England midfielder Jude Bellingham and have been linked with his international team-mate Harry Kane as they look to challenge for top honours again next season.
With Karim Benzema departing for Al-Ittihad, Real head coach Carlo Ancelotti will be keen to add proven firepower to his attack and Mbappe – with 212 goals in 260 PSG appearances – certainly ticks that box.

Manchester United

The Red Devils improved last season under Erik ten Hag but are still some distance off challenging neighbours Manchester City at the top of the Premier League.
The ongoing uncertainty of takeover bids may yet destabilise summer transfer business – but what a jewel in the crown Mbappe would be for any potential new owners at Old Trafford.
Like Real, United would probably be able to make the deal work financially and they do have their famous number seven shirt, also favoured by the Frenchman, ready and waiting for someone to fill it.

Chelsea

A number of other Premier League clubs could make a move for Mbappe – treble winners City would be an attractive destination while Liverpool, Arsenal and Newcastle may struggle with the numbers behind such a transfer.
Chelsea missing out on European football means the Blues become an outside prospect to make a swoop but owner Todd Boehly has already proven he is not shy in splashing the cash in west London.
Some £600million has been spent in a year so the potentially eye-watering figures for Mbappe may not be as off-putting to Boehly as they would be to other suitors.

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With the Saudi Pro League looking to bring in some of the biggest names in world football, could Mbappe be tempted to head to the Middle East in his prime?
Cristiano Ronaldo moved to Al Nassr earlier this year with former Real team-mate Benzema joining him in Saudi Arabia and the likes of N’Golo Kante and Riyad Mahrez also linked with big-money deals.
At 24, Mbappe may feel the timing is not right to relocate to a league outside of those at the very top of the sport and away from the lures of chasing a first Champions League trophy.

Stay put

Mbappe could yet remain at Paris St Germain, stranger things have certainly happened.
With Lionel Messi leaving the French capital and heading to Inter Miami and also some questions over the future of fellow superstar forward Neymar, the Ligue 1 champions are coming to a crossroads in how they move forward.
If Mbappe can be tempted to stay and sign a new deal he would undoubtedly be the main man in Paris, while if the club refuse to sell or cannot get the value they want he may yet play another season before leaving for nothing in 12 months.

Real Madrid are in the market for a new centre-forward after announcing Karim Benzema’s departure.

The France international scored 354 goals in 648 appearances to become Real’s second all-time top scorer, behind Cristiano Ronaldo, during a 14-year stay in the Spanish capital.

Here, the PA news agency runs the rule over the main contenders to succeed Benzema at the Bernabeu.

Harry Kane

England captain Kane would appear to be a natural fit for Real given his unceasing ability to score goals for Tottenham.

Kane, who has one year left on his Spurs contract, turns 30 next month, but that is unlikely to put Real off a striker who is the Premier League’s second highest goalscorer and will be strongly coveted by Manchester United and others this summer.

Real have tempted Gareth Bale and Luka Modric away from Tottenham in the past and might be hopeful of striking a deal, with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy unwilling to sell Kane to a Premier League rival in the past.

Kylian Mbappe

The World Cup winner was seemingly on his way to Madrid last summer before choosing to stay at Paris St Germain and chase Champions League glory there.

Like Kane, Mbappe comes with a goals guarantee as he has scored more than 200 for PSG, but the Frenchman has more time on his side than the England forward as he does not celebrate his 25th birthday until December.

Mbappe is a thrilling spectacle in full flight and releasing him from his eye-watering PSG contract, which runs until June 2025, might take a world record transfer fee.

Victor Osimhen

Napoli’s first Serie A title for 33 years was fuelled by the goals of Osimhen.

The 24-year-old Nigeria star scored 26 goals in 32 games, with the 6ft 1in striker’s game based around pace, power and athleticism.

Osimhen has two years remaining on his current Napoli deal and has also attracted interest from Manchester United, with Red Devils boss Erik ten Hag known to be a big admirer.

Kai Havertz

On the face of it, Germany international Havertz would appear to be a strange replacement for goal machine Benzema.

It would not be a like-for-like signing as the 23-year-old Havertz, in a false nine role, struggled to provide the goals Chelsea needed last season.

But his tactical intelligence could enable him to dovetail well with Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior and Real could get a reduction on the £76million Chelsea paid Bayer Leverkusen for Havertz in 2020.

Jonathan David

Canada striker David has a growing reputation for club and country and seems ready to step on to a bigger stage after spells in Belgium and France.

The 23-year-old has scored over 50 Ligue 1 goals for Lille since joining from Gent in 2020, 24 of them coming this season.

David is known for his pace and versatility, as well his pressing ability out of possession, and can also operate as a second striker.

Boris Becker fears Alexander Zverev's injury problems may impact his fellow German's chances of winning a first grand slam at the upcoming French Open.

Zverev reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros last year, but his chances of winning a maiden grand slam title were ended when an ankle injury forced him to retire from his last-four clash with eventual champion Rafael Nadal.

Zverev subsequently required surgery to repair damaged ligaments before a bone edema suffered in September further delayed his return to the court.

The German finally made his competitive comeback in December but struggled at the Australian Open the following month, crashing out in the second round to unheralded American Michael Mmoh.

With the 26-year-old heading to Roland Garros later this month looking to reach the semi-finals for the third straight year, Becker has serious doubts over his compatriot's chances of claiming victory.

Asked whether he felt Zverev could come out on top, Becker told Stats Perform: "I hope so. I hope so.

"At the moment he is in a bit of a crisis because he had a very severe injury last year in the semi-final against Nadal. 

"He literally broke his ankle. He was out for seven months and just came back this year. So he's still struggling.

"I think for the title, I don't think anybody German [will win] this year. I think it'll be a Spaniard, it'll be a Serbian, it'll be an Italian, somebody like that."

The French Open was the only grand slam singles title that evaded Becker during his hugely successful career, with the tennis great winning three Wimbledon titles, two Australian Open crowns and the 1989 US Open.

The former world number one believes the beauty of tennis lies in individuals coping with pressure, explaining there is no opportunity to exploit the talents of others to reach the pinnacle of the sport.

"Tennis is a very important sport," Becker said. "It's an individual sport. You can actually see it with one player, whether he's winning or losing.

"In a team, sometimes people can hide behind the likes of [Lionel] Messi or [Kylian] Mbappe. You're still a World Cup winner, even though you know it was either Mbappe or Messi, right?

"In tennis, it's not possible. You have to be the better player and that is why tennis is such a powerful sport, because you see who is better with your own eyes."

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