Kylian Mbappé and PSG at loggerheads

“We want him to stay, but he can’t leave for free (…).” said Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser al-Khelaïfi at the Poissy Training Centre on 5 July.

This public statement is in response to the letter star player Kylian Mbappé sent on 12 June, two days after the opening of the mercato, in which he officially informed his employer that he would not exercise the one-year extension option provided for in his contract with the club.

After being tipped to join Real Madrid in 2022, the 24-year-old striker ended up signing a new two-year contract with PSG, running until 30 June 2024, with an option to extend until 30 June 2025.

If Kylian Mbappé does not exercise the option to extend his contract until 2025, his fixed-term contract will expire on 30 June 2024 and he will be free to sign a new one with the club of his choice, without PSG receiving any compensation.

However, this is not to the liking of the club, which would like to extend the contract of its player, or put him up for sale this summer in order to obtain a transfer fee.

In this legal battle, employment law works to the advantage of the player.

As a reminder, the employment contract signed between a professional player and his club is subject, on the one hand, to the provisions of the French labour Code, and to the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players (“RSTJ”), on the other hand.

Pursuant to article L.1243-1 of the French labour Code, unless the parties agree otherwise, a fixed-term employment contract may only be terminated before expiry of its term, for serious misconduct, force majeure or being found unfit to work by the occupational physician.

The FIFA RSTJ echoes these provisions. Even during the mercato period, a contract between a professional player and a club can only be terminated, either on expiry, by mutual agreement, or with “just cause” (Articles 13, 14 and 15 of the FIFA RSTJ).

Clearly, Kylian Mbappé’s decision not to exercise the option in his contract does not constitute “just cause” allowing PSG to terminate his fixed-term contract early. And if Paris Saint-Germain were to breach the above provisions and unilaterally terminate the employment contract, the club would be liable to pay the player damages in an amount at least equal to the remuneration he would have received until the end of the contract, without prejudice to the termination indemnity (Article L.1243-4 of the French labour Code and Article 17 of the FIFA RSTJ).

The last device used by PSG to force its player to leave the club is to keep him away from the first training group and integrate him into a second group that does not receive the same treatment, at the risk of jeopardising the club’s sporting results.

However, this situation is limited in time, since under the terms of Article 507 of the Professional Football Charter, adopted by the Professional Football League, from 1st September until 30th June, any player with a professional contract who is placed in the 2nd training group must be made available on a temporary basis exclusively for sporting reasons linked to the management of the team. Under no circumstances may it be extended on a regular, permanent or definitive basis.

As a result, PSG will not be able to sideline their player indefinitely, as, if the above conditions are not met, the player will be able to appeal to the LFP’s Legal Committee to be reinstated to the first training group.

The latest news is that Saudi club Al-Hilal has made a €300 million bid to recruit the Parisian. Although PSG had given Kylian Mbappé the go-ahead to enter into negotiations with the Saudi club, the player is said to have turned down a lavish one-year contract worth €700 million and to be giving priority to… Real Madrid.

In purely legal terms, the Parisian club’s arguments are therefore very limited.