Record-chasing Mbappé has Cavani's PSG mark in his sights
Paris Saint-Germain's French forward Kylian Mbappe celebrates after scoring a goal during the French Cup round of 32 football match between US Pays de Cassel and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at the Bollaert-Delelis stadium in Lens, northern France on January 23, 2023. (Photo by Francois LO PRESTI / AFP)

PARIS (AP) — Kylian Mbappé can close in further on Paris Saint-Germain's all-time scoring record when his team hosts Reims on Sunday.

Mbappé's tally of 196 goals for PSG means he is only four behind Edinson Cavani's record for the club. Cavani is still idolised by fans, many of whom were angry at the club for letting him leave in 2020.

Mbappé has taken longer to win PSG's supporters over, especially when relations became frosty during the on-off transfer saga with Real Madrid.

But his exploits for France at the World Cup in Qatar increased his popularity all over the country, and since returning he's been applauded at every away ground — although that might not be the case when PSG visits bitter rival Marseille twice next month.

The World Cup's top scorer is in clinical form heading into Saturday's match at Parc des Princes after netting five goals in a French Cup win on Monday, albeit against an amateur side.

Mbappé's attitude in that game stood out along with his crisp finishing. He took the match very seriously and spoke of his respect for the non-league teams afterward.

“It’s a reminder for us that we all come from amateur football and it’s important to keep this link,” he said. "Even if it’s only for one game.”

Neymar has been largely anonymous for PSG since his World Cup heartbreak with Brazil, so PSG coach Christophe Galtier needs Mbappé to maintain his form.

“Kylian is among the greatest strikers, the world class strikers. He's one of the best,” Galtier said. “He's conditioned to score. That's Kylian, a man of statistics and numbers. I don't even need to encourage for him to break records.”

He is the league's top scorer with 13 goals this season, one more than Lorient's Terem Moffi and Lille's Jonathan David, and it's only a matter of time before Cavani's record tumbles.

In far quicker time, too.

While Cavani notched his 200 goals in 301 games, Mbappé has taken just 241 matches to reach 196.

While his best season's haul of 42 goals overall is less than Cavani's best total of 49, Mbappé is already on 25 goals in 24 games so far in this campaign.

With half of the league campaign still to play, he could realistically hit 50 if PSG goes far in the Champions League and the French Cup.

That might be tough, however, since PSG faces Bayern Munich in the round of 16 and is away to Marseille in the cup's last 16.

A hectic schedule sees PSG playing seven games next month, including a league game at third-place Marseille that promises to be intense, and eight if it reaches the cup quarterfinals.

Mid-table Reims is a hard team to beat, too, and is on an 11-match unbeaten run which includes holding PSG to a 0-0 draw at home in October.

PSG's away form has been a concern recently, with consecutive defeats at Lens and Rennes allowing second-place Lens to close the gap to three points after 19 rounds.

So PSG needs a morale-boosting home win to get its confidence back, and help Mbappé close the gap on Cavani.

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