Chelsea turned out an early opportunity to recruit Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe.
Serge Daniel Boga, a former scout for Chelsea, claimed that he saw Mbappe play for French club AS Bondy at the age of 14 and asked the young player to try with the Blues in 2012.
Mbappe displayed strong play at Chelsea, participating in a 7-0 victory over Charlton. However, the striker’s deal fell through after the Premier League team attempted to set up a second trial, which infuriated the player’s mother, Fayza Lamari.
Boga said; “Chelsea were the first ones to give him a trial. We did it before Real Madrid.
“I had a friend who worked for Nike, Denis Chantron, and when I was in France, we met and he said ‘Have you heard of this young boy called Mbappe? He plays for Bondy, this small club from the suburbs of Paris.
“I said I hadn’t and he said ‘You have to watch him.’ I went there and watched him and I called him back straight away and I said ‘Listen, this boy is really something.’
“I told Chelsea about him and let them do their thing. I called everyone at Chelsea whom I dealt with, like Jim Fraser. I said ‘Listen, I have this kid you have to look at.
“I brought him over with his family. He was skilful, like he is now. He played against Charlton and won 7-0. After a week at Chelsea, we went into the office. We said ‘Listen, we appreciate what we saw from you but we have to invite you back for another trial and we’ll see after that.’
“I remember what the mother said to this day. She spoke in French to Fraser and I was translating. She said to me, ‘Listen, my boy won’t be coming back. If they want him they have to take him now or in five years they will be coming back to buy him for €50 million!’
“That’s what she said to me! I said, ‘No I can’t say that to them. It is too cocky for me.’ She was right, though. It wasn’t even €50m but €180m that someone would pay. So, she knew the quality of her son and she was right.”
Instead, Mbappe decided to sign with Ligue 1 team Monaco, where he made his professional debut in 2015 at the age of just 16.
He would assist the principality in capturing the French league championship in the 2016–17 campaign before transferring to PSG at the conclusion of the campaign for a transfer fee of €180 million (£154 million), a record sum for a teenager.
Since then, Mbappe has scored 170 goals in 216 appearances for PSG and won four more Ligue 1 championships at the Parc des Princes.
A new three-year contract costing reportedly £1 million per week was signed by him in Paris, making him the highest-paid player in all of football. He turned down the opportunity to join Real Madrid on a free transfer.
Chelsea’s decision to request a second trial for Mbappe at the club was a grave mistake in retrospect.
“He was very skilful but in England they want to see the player track back and be a hard worker. At the time, he wasn’t a hard worker,” Boga further stated.
“Defensively, he wasn’t there yet. When he got the ball, he was unbelievable, but without the ball, he didn’t work a lot. Chelsea wanted to see him again to see how he could improve on this. I think that’s why they asked him back. He did skilful things and dribbled well.”
“So, maybe the things they wanted to see in the second trial was improved work on the defensive side. They should have signed him. To be fair, though, it is easy to say that now. But, at the time, Chelsea had a good squad.
“Still, Mbappe is the best player I have ever scouted. I am proud, very proud to see what he has become. When I see him play, I say, ‘Wow, my eyes were good!’
“He is the type of player that everyone wants to watch play. He has everything needed for a modern player. He is fast and in front of goal he is a killer. He has everything to remain one of the best players in the world for the next 10 years.”