In the wake of Kylian Mbappé’s various interviews to French media so far this week, the forward’s mother, Fayza Lamari, has also spoken to Le Parisien about her son’s future.
Lamari, along with the Frenchman’s father Wilfrid Mbappé and his lawyer Delphine Verheyden, is reponsible for managing the Paris Saint-Germain man’s career. She notably commented on the possibility of Mbappé extending for another year at the club, despite asking for a move to Real Madrid this summer.
Why have you decided to speak out now?
We’ve been thinking about it and my lawyer has been pushing me to do so for a while. For many years, I wished to stay in the shadows and continue working. But after the Euros, things were getting out of hand regarding [coverage of] myself. People were making up anything and everything. So I first came out on Twitter, and then I said Stop, I need to speak. [Kylian’s image] can’t have gone from being the ideal son-in-law to a little devil. And then Kylian has been asking me to come out of the woods for the last two years, even though I want to go to the Fête de l’Humanité [a festival in France] without being noticed. I am the only member of the family to not have security. But after this interview, that will be over [laughs].
How do you deal with criticism towards Kylian as his manager and mother?
For a long time, it was difficult to separate the two. Because I am above all a mother. After his Champions League match against Manchester City in 2017, where he scored, I was wondering what was going on. He had become Justin Bieber, and it scared me. Between the Manchester City game and his transfer to PSG I gained 24kg. At the start, it’s very difficult because you’re prepared for it. But then with time you switch off because some comments are so aggressive. It was a bit like that last summer. Like I was saying, he became the one to knock down in public. At that point, it’s the mother that intervenes. He is 22, he will make mistakes, but he didn’t deserve what happened to him at all. So now, I am coming out like a wolf.
Is there a gap between his image in the media and reality?
Yes, but it’s also his fault, because it’s the only way he’s found to protect himself. This is a kid who’s been in the spotlight since he was 8 or 9 years old. When we chose to have him go to Monaco for his development, it was to have him far away from Paris. We wanted to protect him. His father wanted him at PSG. I’ve been wanting to make a documentary about him for two years, but he doesn’t want to. He says, “people already know everything about my life, now they’ll know where I eat, where I sleep…”. Maybe he needs to learn to open up more. And we need to communicate a bit better to get closer to Kylian’s real personality. Because he’s not the same behind the scenes. But he does have this assuredness that his father gave him. That’s what makes him strong. I always told him: We come from Bondy, and if you don’t have faith in yourself, who will have it in your place? There’s no glass ceiling.
Have there been times when you disagreed with your son?
Often (laughs)! Just like all children with their parents. But I know he understands. The last disagreement was over the word “tramp” [Mbappé’s rant towards Neymar for not passing to him]. I told him, “you can’t say that!”. I was both unhappy with it and I excused him for it. I blamed more the people who had read his lips. Apart from whipping up a storm, I don’t see the point. He’s a provocator, he’s always provoking. He loves it but it’s a game for him. There’s no nastiness behind it but he drives you mad! He did it to me his whole childhood, I was always getting called to the principal’s office! Oh and when I turned down an advert, he said “you’ve made me lose 6 million euros” [laughs]. He teased me for a long time – “I am your boss, can you explain it to me?”. Those values don’t match up with who he is. The advantage of having money is that you don’t need to sell your soul to the devil.
What happened in the stands between you and Véronique Rabiot at the Euros?
There were exchanges between Mrs Rabiot and Wilfrid, it wasn’t with me. But I went up to go speak to her. I told her what I had to say as a mother and as a woman, which is to say that it was out of place especially in front of Ethan [Kylian’s little brother]. That said, what disturbed me was her treatment the next day. She was harshly criticised for nothing, I don’t find that fair. There is something I admire with her – she managed her son’s career. In my case, I have Wilfrid who plays a big part. I stand with Mrs Rabiot, because, in the future, that will happen to me too. You must hear a lot of stories about me. Are they true? Apparently I held secret meetings in Hungary during the Euros!
In an interview with L’Équipe Kylian let on that he nearly put a temporary stop to his France career. Had he become a problem with the national team?
Often read or hear, “Kylian Mbappé’s behaviour frustrates”. The Kylian of 2021 is not the same as that of 2018 so we don’t expect the same things of him. He has no issues with taking on responsibilities but nothing is simple. It was difficult for him, but we managed to get him back on track. Kylian is precocious, all of his reactions, positive or negative, are exacerbated. When he’s happy, he’s like a 3-year-old kid. When he’s sad, he cries. After being knocked out by Manchester United in 2019 in the Champions League, he shut himself away and lost 2kg. He was deeply affected. For him to give the most of his potential, he has to feel loved, wanted, and not be the problem. But he’s not the problem, he gets on well with everyone and doesn’t waffle. The squad is sound – there are no baddies in the France team. There were 24-48 hours of blues but he is happy with the French national team.
Is there no way of extending by a year in order to avoid leaving on a free?
We are in talks with PSG right now and it’s going well. I even spoke to Leonardo last night [Monday]. But will we reach an outcome? One thing is sure: he will give his all right up until the end to win the Champions League. Kylian needs to feel satisfied. If he’s unhappy, he is capable of telling you: “I’m stopping my career”. And he says that to us often, actually [smiles]. With Kylian, it can all change from one day to the next.
Did his desire to leave PSG come from you?
That’s how it was framed – the dad wanting him to stay, the mother and the lawyer wanting him to leave. None of us three decides. When Kylian wants something, whatever you do, he will go for it. It’s his Kabyle side that comes out [laughs]. It’s easy to blame me for it. He didn’t leave, he’s at PSG and he’s happy about it. You can have a desire to leave without turning your back on the place you want to leave from. Choosing between staying at PSG and going to Real Madrid is like choosing between your parents.
Were you there for the negotiations?
Yes, with Wilfrid and Delphine. We turned down PSG’s first offer and then a second one at the end of the window, around mid-August. When we negotiate, first we find an agreement on the sporting side of things, because after that the financial aspect is sorted in an hour.
What has Messi’s arrival been like for him?
He’s very happy! Last week he even asked for his shirt. Kylian will be able to tell his kids later on that he played against Cristiano Ronaldo and alongside Neymar and Messi, his childhood idols. He had posters of these players in his room. After PSG decided to keep him, he said to me, “Have you seen who I’m gonna play with, mum?”. In order to win, it’s best to be in this team this year.
How will you ensure he plays at the Paris Olympics in 2024?
It will be in his contract. But he’ll need to be called up for it. The Olympics will be taking place in his hometown. PSG are not against letting him go.