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After a long suspense, France forward Kylian Mbappé has signed a contract extension with PSG that will keep him tied with the Ligue 1 side until 2025 – after rejecting an offer from the august Real Madrid.
At a press conference alongside PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi, Mbappé acknowledged that he had wanted to leave in the past but said he changed his mind: “Everybody knows last year I wanted to believe but I believed that was the best thing for me. But time has moved on. The sport has changed a bit and my personal life has changed too.”
The PSG star was keen to emphasise his enthusiasm for the beautiful game as his overriding priority: “I’m a football player at heart […] I love football, I’m passionate about it.”
Mbappé also said he discussed his potential move to the Bernabeu with French President Emmanuel Macron: “We talked quite a bit […] he wanted me to stay.”
“We’re keeping the best player in the world,” Al-Khelaifi said.
Mbappé had been expected to move to Real Madrid as his existing contract with PSG reached its end, having been targeted by the Spanish giants ever since he was a young teenager.
The 23-year-old had for so long seemed certain to sign with Real before being persuaded to commit to a new three-year deal with PSG, the club he joined in 2017 from Monaco.
Speculation abounded that as well as a gigantic, undisclosed financial package, PSG’s Qatari owners had persuaded Mbappé to remain with his hometown club by agreeing to give the 23-year-old forward some say in which players to sign for next season.
Mbappé, however, denied any such agreement had been made.
“I remain a footballer, who is part of a team, and I will not go beyond this role. I won’t go beyond my role as a player,” he said.
The press conference came after the president of Spain’s top flight La Liga, Javier Tebas, complained bitterly on Saturday that the massive financial resources of PSG’s owners had proved decisive in persuading Mbappé to stay in France.
“What PSG is doing by renewing Mbappé with large sums of money … after posting losses of €700 million in recent seasons and having a wage bill of over €600 million, is an INSULT to football,” Tebas tweeted.
La Liga announced in a statement it was launching an official complaint about PSG’s actions “to UEFA, the French administrative and fiscal authorities and the appropriate decision-making bodies of the European Union”.
In his tweet, Tebas also called Al-Khelaifi “a danger to European football”.
At the Bernabeu, Real’s failure to get their man casts a shadow over their preparations for the Champions League final at the Stade de France next Saturday.
In the short-term, Real will cope. They won La Liga this season at a canter without Mbappé and they will win the Champions League without him too if they defeat a fatigued Liverpool in Paris next Saturday. They have beaten Manchester City, Chelsea, PSG, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid this season.
And few would say Real’s weakness is their attack. Vinicius Junior has emerged as one of the world’s most frightening wingers and Karim Benzema established himself as the clear favourite for the Ballon d’Or. With Mbappé in the team, would Vinicius and Benzema have shone so brightly?
But the longer term is where Real Madrid will surely feel the loss. Mbappé could have been a catalyst for change, a focal point for a new era, the kind of signing that forces a squad to update and modernise its tactics.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
Source: France 24