Which Kylian Mbappé will show up for France at Euro 2024?

Which Kylian Mbappé will show up for France at Euro 2024?

Updated Jun. 12, 2024 1:35 p.m. ET

The answers to the most important issues in European soccer will come soon enough, but for now all fans are able to do is pose questions.

And none is bigger, more relevant, and more probably decisive to how this summer's European Championships go down, than this.

Which Kylian Mbappé is going to show up?

Mbappé is a soccer phenomenon of outrageous proportions, a force of nature who possesses better than anyone on the planet the ability to transform the outcome of games with a sudden surge of magical play.


But consistent he is not. Not lately anyway. Not in his final season with French champion Paris St. Germain, and definitely not in 2024, where the final few months before his imminent move to Real Madrid have seen as many troughs as peaks.

"He is not in the right mood," French soccer media personality Daniel Riolo told a national audience on RMC last weekend. "The Mbappé for several weeks now is not an Mbappé who can take the French team very far."

[Check out our Euro 2024 preview]

Perhaps the distraction has come from the longest and most awkward of goodbyes. The breakdown in the relationship between Mbappé and PSG was no secret, nor was the fact that he would be leaving – finally confirmed last weekend with an open letter from the 25-year-old forward.

If his switch to Real Madrid is completed before the Euros, could that be the soul-soothing change needed to restore him to his finest form? Either way, his arrival would certainly be welcomed by Madrid's players, especially English playmaker Jude Bellingham.

"I don't pick the team and I certainly don't make the transfers, but Kylian Mbappé, what a player," Bellingham said ahead of this weekend's Champions League final. "Who wouldn't want to play with someone as good as him? I know for him it is probably difficult having everyone always talking about him, but yeah, it would be nice."

Kylian Mbappé: Best moments for <a href=

Glimpses of Mbappé's excellence have been there all season, enough that he was able to rack up 27 goals in Ligue 1 action and another eight in the Champions League. His outstanding burst in the second leg of the Champions League quarterfinal against Barcelona was sandwiched between a miserable showing in the first leg and a limp showing in the semifinal, where the French club crashed out to Borussia Dortmund.

When on form, he has the ability to take over a game like no one else. His performance in the World Cup final in December 2022 was one for the ages, a stunning hat-trick and another strike in the penalty shootout so nearly enough to deny Lionel Messi and Argentina, but not quite.

Why it matters so much whether it is the bubbling, electrifying, constantly dangerous version of Mbappé that appears in Germany this summer — where France begins its Group D campaign against Austria on June 17 (3 p.m. ET on FOX) — or the glum, pedestrian Mbappé that was at times on display for PSG, is because France so often beats to his personal rhythm.

That might seem counterintuitive to say about a program that has had such longevity and consistency of success, but it is the case nevertheless.

Didier Deschamps, head coach since 2012, has set things up that way, with stability and organization prioritized, and with Mbappé to provide the game-winning sparkle.

It worked beautifully during the victorious 2018 World Cup campaign and again in 2022. 

It faltered in the Euros last time, a weird campaign, where the team came unstuck against Switzerland, surrendering a late two-goal in the round of 16. This might be unthinkable to anyone who watched the World Cup final, but Mbappé can and occasionally does miss penalty kicks, and he tame effort in the shootout allowed the Swiss to pull off a monumental upset.

For all the different permutations and possibilities that the Euros will bring, the reality remains that if Mbappé plays at the level he is capable of and France's surrounding pieces function efficiently, Deschamps' team will be mightily difficult to stop, hence their status as the oddsmakers' favorite.

Mbappé is saying all the right things.

In an interview with Sky Italia, he spelled just how much it means to him to have success with his national team.

"The dream is always the same," he said. "To win.

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"The normal objective is to go (to the Euros) and win. It won't be easy, because there are many strong teams. We are really hungry and we want more.

"We want to be part of the history of our country. I have one World Cup, the Nations League, and I am only missing the Euros. If I win it, I will have won everything."

But to win it, the real Mbappé will need to show up.

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX and subscribe to the daily newsletter.

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