Kylian Mbappé has just completed his press conference and, immaculately turned out in a dark suit and crisp white shirt, he takes a stool in the Salon Bastille, one of the plush executive suites upstairs at the Parc des Princes, to conduct this exclusive interview with Telegraph Sport. He drops a little bombshell.
It was, Mbappé reveals, not just a straight fight between Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid to sign the 23-year-old who is universally regarded as the most valuable footballer on the planet. He also spoke to Liverpool.
“We talked a little bit, but not too much. We talked a little bit,” Mbappé cautiously confirms before adding that Liverpool actually had a greater chance of signing him when it was time for him to leave Monaco and before he joined PSG in 2017. In fact, he has never hidden his admiration for Liverpool or the football they play under Jurgen Klopp – and it does seem to be the Premier League club he would consider should he ever leave Paris. Quite what it would have meant for their forward line had the talks progressed and he signed this summer is another matter.
“I talked to Liverpool because it’s the favourite club of my mum, my mum loves Liverpool. I don’t know why, you will have to ask her!” he says laughing and nodding towards his mother Fayza Lamari who is also chuckling. “It’s a good club and we met them five years ago. When I was in Monaco I met them. It’s a big club.”
As is PSG and, of course, Real, who were left stunned, embarrassed and also apoplectic by Mbappé’s decision to sign a new three-year contract with the French giants when they believed he was destined to be theirs having made it clear he wanted out of Paris last year before running down the final season of his contract. He could even have signed a pre-contract with Real in January, but did not. Instead, they missed out on him for a third time.
Astonishingly, the announcement from PSG that Mbappé was staying led to Javier Tebas, the combustible La Liga president, declaring it was “an insult to football” and promising to file complaints to Uefa and even the European Commission. PSG have hit back saying it is a sign that the Spanish league is being usurped by France.
“Of course, it was between Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain in the end,” Mbappé says as he explains that he only made his final decision last week and called Real president Florentino Perez – rather that WhatsApp-ing him as has been claimed – as he also denies suggestions that he performed some kind of “u-turn”. He genuinely only decided in the middle of last week.
‘My chapter isn’t closed – things were not over for me at PSG’
After that, Mbappé was sworn to secrecy by PSG and did not even tell his team-mates – although he says they could surely discern from his happy mood that he was staying – with some nevertheless only finding out in the dressing room before their final league game against Metz on Saturday. Neither did he ask advice from Lionel Messi or Neymar. Both told him it was his decision.
“Everybody knows I wanted to leave for Real Madrid last year and I think it was a good choice to leave last year. But now it’s different because I was a free agent,” Mbappé explains and it does, actually, appear to have been a significant factor in his decision. He really did not want to leave France for nothing.
“I was a free agent and it was important to give back to my country. If I had left I would have left as a great player but there is a sentimental part. I don’t think my chapter is closed. Things were not over for me at PSG,” Mbappé says.
“I’m French and I know I’m important in the country and when you are important you have to think not only about football but about your life. I will be in France after my career. I will leave here [PSG], I will be with my family, my friends. The only thing I can say is thank you to all the Real Madrid fans and the club because they gave me all the love. It’s amazing because I was only there for one week when I was 14 [to train]. I said to them good luck for the Champions League [final].”
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