French sports minister urges PSG's Mbappe to stay in France

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Champions League - Round of 16 First Leg - FC Barcelona v Paris St Germain

PARIS (Reuters) - French sports minister Roxana Maracineanu has urged Paris Saint Germain (PSG) soccer star Kylian Mbappe to keep playing in France after Mbappe's Champions League hat-trick this week reignited speculation that he could move abroad.

"Kylian, stay in France, we want to be able to see you continue to play like that," Maracineanu told France Info radio on Friday.

Mbappe, who won the 2018 World Cup with the French national team while still a teenager, scored a stunning hat-trick as the Qatari-owned PSG thrashed Barcelona 4-1 away in their Champions League last-16 first leg on Tuesday.

The 22-year-old became the first player to net a treble away to Barcelona in Europe's elite competition since Dynamo Kyiv's Andriy Shevchenko in November 1997, the year before Mbappe was born.

His performance sparked more speculation that he might eventually leave France's Ligue 1 for Spain's La Liga or England's Premier League, which are typically considered bigger and more prestigious championships.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; editing by Clare Fallon)