Potential Mbappe arrival excites Madrid fans after PSG decision

AFP , Friday 16 Feb 2024

Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe seems to be edging towards a Real Madrid move, with excitement already building in the Spanish capital.

Mbappe
FILE - PSG's Kylian Mbappe, right, scores his side's opening goal during the Champions League, round of 16, first leg football match between Paris Saint Germain and Real Madrid at the Parc des Princes stadium, in Paris, France, Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022. Photo: AP

 

The 25-year-old France captain informed PSG officials he intends to leave in the summer at the end of his contract, a source close to the Ligue 1 champions said Thursday.

Madrid are in pole position to sign a player whom they have moved for several times in the past only to be rebuffed, although they declined to comment when asked by AFP.

Spanish media report Madrid's offer to Mbappe is lower than in 2022 when he decided to renew his PSG contract, with Cadena SER saying he wants 50 million euros ($54 million) gross a season along with a hefty 120 million euros signing-on bonus.

With the numbers and financial fair play impact left for Madrid's accountants to manage, supporters and local media are starting to dream of what may come.

"The countdown has started," wrote Madrid-based national newspaper Marca.

"Seven years later everything points to Mbappe's arrival being a reality from July 1."

Mbappe had the chance to join Madrid from Monaco in 2017 but chose PSG instead, perhaps cowed by the difficulty of ousting Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale or Karim Benzema from the attack.

Now he could lead the line alongside Vinicius Junior and Jude Bellingham.

"That would be perfect," Luis Caceres, the president of Real Madrid's fan club federation told AFP.

"He's the best player in the world, that's undeniable. We've seen him play and we know what he can do, he's a great player."

Mbappe, yet to win the Champions League, could yet cross paths with record 14-time winners Madrid in this year's competition.

Spanish newspaper AS say Madrid will "keep silent" on Mbappe while the two sides are still competing in Europe.

Last June a Real Madrid fan did manage to lure club president Florentino Perez into giving a clue away about Mbappe's future.

Enrique Higueras, 22, stumbled across the chief outside a restaurant and asked him if he would bring Mbappe to the Santiago Bernabeu.

"Yes, but not this year," replied Perez.

Higueras, a student doctoring in sports science, told AFP he believes Mbappe will succeed if and when he arrives.

"I am sure that he will play at Madrid and make history," said Higueras.

"I don't think Madrid needs Mbappe to win the Champions League ... but obviously if Mbappe joins then the chances of winning that precious trophy go up a lot."

'Bitterness'

However, some supporters still recall Mbappe's snub and perceived slights since.

Oscar Movellan Martinez, a 42-year-old business consultant and self-described "huge fan" of Madrid, said he was not happy with Mbappe seemingly mocking Los Blancos after renewing his PSG deal.

"What happened in 2022 I can understand, for the pressure the kid received ... in the media all the way up to (French president Emmanuel) Macron," said Movellan.

"What I didn't like was the attitude after ... I understand that he might have been pressured to renew with PSG when he wanted to come to Madrid, but I don't understand his reaction."

If Mbappe does join Madrid in the summer then it may take a few goals from PSG's all-time top scorer to smooth things over.

"I think the fans at the Bernabeu will have a bit of bitterness at the start, but look -- it's a fanbase that even whistled (Zinedine) Zidane back in the day," added Movellan.

Others are cautiously choosing not to trust Mbappe will join until it is made official.

"Until I see him sign, I won't believe it, after what happened in 2022," added Caceres.

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