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Five players Paris Saint-Germain could sign to replace Kylian Mbappe

Sports Mole picks out five players Paris Saint-Germain could realistically target to replace Kylian Mbappe ahead of his imminent summer departure.

The final member of Paris Saint-Germain's holy trinity is on the verge of clearing out his Parc des Princes locker, as Kylian Mbappe has reportedly informed the Ligue 1 champions that he will be leaving on a free transfer when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Following the departures of Lionel Messi and Neymar ahead of the 2023-24 season, Mbappe - in spite of unrelenting speculation over his future and his refusal to extend his contract by a further year - stayed put in the capital to spearhead a new era for PSG under the wing of Luis Enrique, as the club swapped signing established superstars for the talents of tomorrow.

Les Parisiens' shake-up of playing personnel has had little impact on Mbappe's perennially prolific attacking exploits, but the World Cup winner is now said to have communicated to president Nasser Al-Khelaifi and his teammates that the next few months in Parisian blue will be his last.

Mbappe's highly-anticipated departure will leave the newly-signed Goncalo Ramos and Randal Kolo Muani as PSG's central attacking options, but neither man has set the world alight during their first season at the club, and the €200m (£171.2m) that Les Parisiens will save from not paying Mbappe his astronomical yearly wages will no doubt be added to the transfer kitty.

While Mbappe is one of a handful of athletes who could be regarded as irreplaceable, Sports Mole picks out five players who the French champions could realistically target to step into the 25-year-old's shoes at the Parc des Princes next term.

Victor Osimhen

Napoli forward Victor Osimhen on December 3, 2023© Reuters

Believed to be the number one target on PSG's summer shopping list, Napoli marksman and current Capocannoniere winner Victor Osimhen will follow in Mbappe's footsteps when it comes to seeking pastures new this summer, as he is confirmed to be heading for the Partenopei exit door.

Napoli's cut-throat president Aurelio De Laurentiis has successfully beaten away interested parties up until now, but the 74-year-old has now resigned himself to losing the Nigeria international, who at 25 years of age fits the bill in terms of what PSG are looking for during their transitional period.

Injuries, the Africa Cup of Nations and Napoli's collective downfall have all contributed to Osimhen's failure to hit the same goalscoring heights as last term, in which he struck 26 times in the Italian top flight alone, but the former Lille man is still expected to be at the heart of a fiery transfer tussle between a few European heavyweights.

Osimhen's fleeting time in Ligue 1 saw the striker directly contribute to 18 goals from just 27 outings - 13 of his own and five assists - giving PSG another incentive to beat the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal to his signature, which, of course, will not come cheap.

Two months ago, Napoli and Osimhen shook hands on a contract renewal with a reported release clause of around €130m (£111.2m), although PSG are no strangers to shelling out nine-figure sums during the QSI era and will likely have no qualms about doing so again.

Rafael Leao

AC Milan's Rafael Leao pictured on September 30, 2023© Reuters

While Osimhen would arrive in Paris with the intention of leading the line in his preferred number nine role, AC Milan wing king Rafael Leao could try to replicate Mbappe's wizardry from the left flank, allowing Ramos and Kolo Muani to scrap it out for the centre-forward's position.

Another player who has been tipped to bid his Calcio farewells for a couple of years now, Leao - who coincidentally left Lille just before Osimhen arrived in 2019 - remains the crown jewel in the Rossoneri's setup and has hit double figures in goals and assists in both the 2021-22 and 2022-23 Serie A campaigns.

The 24-year-old needs only set up one more goal to hit the 10-assist mark in Serie A for the third season running, although he seems to have forgotten where he placed his best shooting boots; he is on a 16-game scoring drought in the Italian top flight stretching back to September 23.

Nevertheless, Leao was on target during Thursday's 3-0 Europa League beating of Rennes, and owing to his 6ft 2in frame, explosive speed and penchant for mazy dribbles, the former Sporting Lisbon youngster has already drawn comparisons to the departing Mbappe in his fledgling career.

Leao signed on the dotted line of a Rossoneri renewal last summer, committing his future to the club until 2028, but his release clause has apparently been set at a staggering €175m (£149.7m). Now approaching the five-month mark without a Serie A goal, such a gargantuan fee may prove difficult for PSG to justify paying.

Mohamed Salah

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah celebrates scoring their fourth goal on January 1, 2024© Reuters

The acquisition of Mohamed Salah would not align with PSG's youth-driven vision, but the Ligue 1 champions are nevertheless said to have earmarked the Liverpool legend as another candidate to feature at the front and centre of their post-Mbappe journey.

Tongues were sent wagging in 2023 when it was reported that Salah and Al-Khelaifi had met face-to-face, although the former's agent Ramy Abbas Issa - who has frequently rubbished clams that his client could be on the way out of Liverpool - quickly denied the existence of such a rendezvous.

However, the facts of Salah's contract matter remain the same; the Egypt international can walk away from Liverpool on a free transfer in 2025 as things stand, giving the Reds a good reason to cash in this summer if neither party decides that an extension is the path that they want to go down.

Salah may turn 32 in the middle of June, but with 27 goal contributions in as many matches this season - 18 of his own and nine assists - it would be a surprise to learn that Liverpool were not considering prolonging their association with the ex-Chelsea man, especially having rebuffed Al-Ittihad's £150m advances in the summer.

Saudi Arabian heavyweights will no doubt test Liverpool's resolve once again this summer, but should Salah feel that he still has something to offer in Europe, PSG may be his best bet if he opts for a change of scenery.

Jonathan David

Jonathan David celebrates scoring their first goal on December 17, 2023© Reuters

Moving closer to home, Lille frontman Jonathan David - who like Salah is also in the last 18 months of his current contract - enters another transfer window with his future a hot topic, as has been the case since Les Dogues' title-winning campaign of 2020-21.

The 24-year-old is still on the same terms he penned upon his arrival from Belgian outfit Gent in 2020, and midway through the 2021-22 season, David's agent Nick Mavromaras publicly announced that the Canada international would likely pack his bags at the end of that campaign.

Despite Mavromaras's affirmations, no move did transpire for David that year, and the Canada international still dons the Dogues colours to this day, but a sale is surely inevitable as he prepares to enter the last year of his deal.

David may not have hit the unparalleled goalscoring feats of Mbappe, but 60 strikes in 133 Ligue 1 matches is still nothing to be scoffed at, and after a nine-match scoreless sequence from September to November, the 24-year-old now has six goals to show from his most recent nine outings in the French top flight.

Premier League interest in David's services remains rife - Chelsea, Manchester United, Brentford and Aston Villa are all said to be running the rule over him - but there is arguably no reason for PSG not to consider a Ligue 1-proven option for a reasonable fee.

Victor Boniface

Bayer Leverkusen's Victor Boniface celebrates scoring their first goal on December 6, 2023© Reuters

Another player who earned his stars in Belgium before transferring to one of Europe's big five leagues, Bayer Leverkusen's Victor Boniface was a cornerstone of Union SG's rise to prominence before joining the Xabi Alonso revolution at the BayArena several months ago.

Seamlessly acclimatising to life in Germany, Boniface has had a direct hand in 24 goals in just 23 matches across the Bundesliga, Europa League and DFB-Pokal - bagging 16 strikes and eight assists - although a serious adductor injury has sidelined him for the past few weeks.

With goals in plentiful supply in all areas of the field, Leverkusen have not suffered in Boniface's absence as they chase a first-ever Bundesliga title, and Boniface's early-season exploits will no doubt see his representatives inundated with calls from potential suitors this summer.

As quoted by Brila FM, the Nigeria international has already expressed his interest in a move to the Parc des Princes, although he will certainly cost a pretty penny to prise away from Leverkusen, who have him under contract until the summer of 2028.

Clubs from the Premier League could also throw their hat into the ring for the 6ft 3in 23-year-old, who is not expected to return from his groin issue until the start of April, but thanks to his scintillating start to the campaign, his stock has already risen enough.

> Click here to see who Mbappe could sign for after leaving PSG

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Paris Saint-Germain attacker Kylian Mbappe on January 28, 2024
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