Sport

DECISIONS, DECISIONS

Kylian Mbappé looks likely to finally join Real Madrid after many years of courtship

Kylian Mbappé looks likely to finally join Real Madrid after many years of courtship
Paris Saint Germain's Kylian Mbappe in action against FC Nantes, on 17 February, 2024. (Photo: EPA-EFE/Franco Arland)

When it officially ends, whenever that will be, the love triangle between Kylian Mbappé, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid will be etched in football history as one of the most dragged-out transfer sagas ever.

Not many people can tell a story about being called by the president of their country, imploring them to stay in their line of employment and not leave the country. French forward Kylian Mbappé is part of that elite club that can unleash this flex in casual conversations though.

Mbappé was on the cusp of leaving French club Paris Saint-Germain in 2022. However, one of the series of events that convinced him to remain in his homeland and not join Spanish giants Real Madrid, was a conversation with France’s president Emmanuel Macron.

“Macron called me and said, “I know you want to leave, but I want you to know that you are important for France and I would not like you to leave. You have the chance to make history here. Everyone loves you.” Of course, when the president tells you that, it counts. But as I said before, it was my decision,” Mbappé told the New York Times.

At that time — with his contract on the brink of expiring — the 25-year-old super striker eventually caved in and penned a new two-year deal. With the option to extend for a further 12 months should he wish. Thereby appeasing his compatriots, the PSG fanbase and hierarchy, and of course earning millions of euros in the process.

“It’s disrespectful to say that my dream is to play for Real Madrid after signing my contract just a few days ago,” Mbappé was quoted as saying by Marca upon penning that new deal in mid-2022.

“The dream is fine, but today I am only focused on my new contract, in the present. You never know what can happen [in future],” he added.

History repeats itself

Two years later, Mbappé finds himself in a similar situation. His contract is expiring in a few months. So far, he has not shown any impetus towards exercising the option to extend for that further 12 months.

In fact, if reports swirling around are to be believed, the Frenchman and the leader of the new school of footballers (taking over from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo) is already a Real Madrid player.

Of course, this is all hearsay until all the parties involved make an official announcement. Especially when the events of past transfer windows are taken into consideration.

Certainly, PSG are still intent on trying their best to retain the outstanding forward. They have invested so much money in him after all. Including signing him for €180-million as a teenager from Monaco in 2017. He has since soared with the French club, becoming their all-time scorer, with more than 200 goals scored since his arrival.

“The best player in the world is Kylian and the best club for him is Paris,” PSG chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi told RMC in January 2024. “He has the best training centre in the world, the best coach in the world [in Luis Enrique].”

“Every year he’s sure of playing in the Champions League. We’re [usually] in the last 16 at least. Or quarterfinals, even semifinals or the final. We’re there with the big clubs,” Al-Khelaifi added.

Kylian Mbappe

Paris Saint Germain’s Kylian Mbappe. (Photo: EPA-EFE/Franco Arland)

Nevertheless, the Uefa Champions have constantly remained elusive for the Parisian outfit, despite the billions the team’s Qatari owners have splashed since taking over the club in 2011 and them recruiting stars such as Mbappé, Brazil’s Neymar and Lionel Messi to aid this cause.

PSG has been extremely dominant on the home front though. When the new owners arrived, the Parisian club had won just two French league titles following its formation in 1970. Since the Qatari cohort began pumping millions of euros into the team, it has taken its league tally to 11 overall. This along with a plethora of domestic knockout cups.

But Mbappé craves the Champions League. As do many other footballers. With PSG, the closest he has come to tasting European glory was a 1-0 defeat in the final to Bayern Munich; during the 2019/2020 season. The Parisians have never won it before.

In fact, since he joined his French club, Madrid has won two Champions League trophies to extend their record to 14 titles in Europe’s elite club competition. So, it is understandable why Mbappé would want to make the transition from the French capital, to the Spanish one.

Madrid ties

It’s deeper than that though for Mbappé. He has had a love affair and affection for Madrid for over 10 years, partially driven by his adoration for the legendary Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Portuguese attacker cemented his legacy as an all-time sporting great with his mind-boggling displays for Real Madrid. Mbappé would love to come close to emulating this success. Though he may never topple the many records Ronaldo set with Madrid.

Should he eventually leave PSG for Los Blancos, it won’t be Mbappé’s first dance with the Spanish club. In 2012, as a 14-year-old, the Frenchman was invited to Madrid by the record European champions.

“I was invited by Real Madrid. I spent four days there. I saw all the superstars, the whole team, my head was spinning. After that, I had to go back and do three days of cleaning in my mother’s classroom. I went from the top of the world to the bottom,” Mbappé told France 2.

“At that moment I was thinking ‘what was my mother thinking bringing me back?’ But now at this age, I understand. I touched the stars, I had to come back to earth.”

Now Mbappé may just return back to the stars, as one of the stars. Certainly, his dream of the Champions League is more realistic in Madrid than Paris. However, he is unlikely to have the same sway he has in the latter city if decides to leave.

“Here, no one is bigger than Real Madrid. It won’t change,” Madrid president Florentino Pérez has previously stated when quizzed on Mbappé. DM

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