Getty Images

Kylian Mbappe is leaving PSG again, for the very first time. Reports began surfacing this week that Mbappe had informed both the club and his teammates that he will be leaving as a free agent this summer, and although he didn't tell anybody where he'd be going, Real Madrid seems to be the destination.

If this all sounds familiar it's because the same thing happened two years ago. Mbappe was going to leave PSG for Real Madrid, but at the last second, had a change of heart and stayed in France. Perhaps we'll see a repeat this summer, or maybe he means it this time. I don't know, but I do think leaving PSG is in Mbappe's best interest.

Mbappe is one of the best players in the world, but outside of the World Cup (which he won in 2018 and finished as runner-up in 2022), Mbappe hasn't played on the brightest stages. Granted, the World Cup is a very bright stage, but international soccer hasn't been what moves the needle for a player's Q score in the modern era.

Cristiano Ronaldo won Euro 2016, but has never won a World Cup. Lionel Messi was the biggest star in the world for a decade before finally winning the World Cup (over Mbappe) in 2022. If you look at Kylian's time at PSG, they've won Ligue 1 nearly every season, but the Champions League (where global superstars are made these days), PSG has consistently fallen short. My theory has always been that, even with an incredible collection of talent, PSG suffers for playing in a league without any real challengers. It's a team that simply isn't used to adversity, and too often folded in the Champions League knockouts when they faced it.

A move to Real Madrid might provide the platform Mbappe needs to become a true global superstar at the club and international level.

Fulham vs. Aston Villa

Date: Saturday, Feb. 17 | Time: 10 a.m. ET | Watch: Peacock

Aston Villa may be competing for a Champions League spot in the Premier League, but they still aren't covered the same way England's top clubs are. If they were, you'd know all about Aston Villa's injury crisis, but while there's plenty of talk about who's sidelined at Liverpool, you don't hear a whole lot about what Aston Villa's dealing with. Aston Villa have been down to their fourth and fifth center back for weeks, but now that Pau Torres is on the verge of playing for the first time since suffering an injury on Dec. 30, Diego Carlos is out with a hamstring injury. Torres' defending partner, Ezri Konsa, has missed the last couple of matches with a knee injury which likely to keep him out a few more weeks. The team's defensive midfielder, Boubacar Kamara, a key cog to Villa's midfield and defense, tore his ACL last week and is done for the year.

So, Villa will likely be playing this match with two left-footed center backs, one of whom hasn't played since 2023, and without their best defensive midfielder. Does that sound like the team you want to be backing as a heavy favorite on the road, where it's been much weaker, even at full strength? I don't! Fulham have been in a rut for about two months, but they've managed to avoid defeat in each of their last three matches and have been much better at Craven Cottage. This is a great chance for Fulham to pick up three unexpected points against one of the top teams in the league. The Pick: Fulham (+200)

Manchester City vs. Chelsea

Date: Saturday, Feb. 17 | Time: 12:30 p.m. ET | Watch: NBC

Forgive me if I don't believe consecutive road wins over an (injury-depleted) Aston Villa in the FA Cup and Crystal Palace means Chelsea have "turned a corner." Sure, anything is possible, but outside of wins against Brighton and Tottenham months ago, all of Chelsea's wins have come against teams in the bottom half of the table. Recently, against Liverpool and Wolverhampton, they allowed eight goals. Even in recent wins, Chelsea has looked vulnerable in defense. Its last 14 Premier League matches have averaged 4.07 goals, including an insane 4-4 draw against Manchester City in London.

I don't expect we'll see eight goals this weekend, though I wouldn't be surprised if Manchester City scored four again. City have been banged up too this season, but they're getting back to full health. Kevin de Bruyne and Erling Haaland are once again working together to terrorize teams and will likely combine for at least one goal here. Plus, City haven't exactly been stalwart themselves. They've managed only six clean sheets in 23 Premier League matches this season, and two of them came in the first two matches of the season. The Pick: Over 3.5 (+120)

Lazio vs. Bologna

Date: Sunday, Feb. 18 | Time: 6:30 a.m. ET | Watch: Paramount+

Bologna haven't only been one of the biggest surprises in Serie A this season, but in the last few years. The league has seen plenty of parity regarding who wins it, but the Scudetto carousel has only featured a select few clubs riding it. Typically speaking, while the order changes, the top six teams in Serie A have been consistent for a while. Enter Bologna, which sits in fifth place in the league, ahead of clubs like Roma, Lazio and Napoli. Thanks to the tutelage of rising managerial star Thiago Motta, Bologna finished ninth last season, their best finish in Serie A since finishing 9th in 2012. Now they're fighting for a Champions League spot and their highest finish since the heyday of the 1960s.

But Bologna are flying this high thanks to their form at home, where they have won 10 of 13 matches with only one loss. On the road, they've won once in 11 matches. While Lazio are further down the table than usual, their recent form (including a 1-0 win over Bayern Munich in the Champions League this week) suggests they should continue climbing toward the European spots. This is a pivotal match for both of these clubs in that pursuit, and I like Lazio's chances of returning the favor following a 1-0 loss at Bologna in early November. The Pick: Lazio (+135)

Weekend Parlay

This week we've got a four-leg parlay paying +154. It'd be nice if it hit to help us dig out of the hole we put ourselves in with our Champions League performance. Yikes.

  • Bayer Leverkusen (-310)
  • Arsenal (-330)
  • Bayern Munich (-320)
  • Benfica (-800)


League Play



Champions League