Soccer

Kylian Mbappé officially joins Real Madrid, ending PSG saga

The French superstar is leaving his home country to join the Champions League winners

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Kylian Mbappé is finally a Real Madrid player.

Real Madrid said on Monday it reached a deal with the France star for the next five seasons, bringing together one of soccer’s top talents and its most successful club.

The announcement came after years of flirtation by Madrid with the player who inherited the status of the best in the game from Lionel Messi.

“A dream come true,” Mbappé said on X. “So happy and proud to join the club of my dream. Nobody can understand how excited I am right now. Can't wait to see you, Madridistas (Madrid fans), and thanks for your unbelievable support. ¡Hala Madrid!”

The post was accompanied by a photo of a young Mbappé wearing a Real Madrid jacket.

The 25-year-old World Cup winner with France joins a Madrid team that is already loaded with talent and still celebrating its latest European triumph.

Just two days ago, Madrid won a record-extending 15th European Cup title when it beat Borussia Dortmund 2-0 in the Champions League final in London.

Mbappé joins a team that already features young stars in Vinícius Júnior, Rodrygo and Jude Bellingham.

Until now, Mbappé has played club soccer only for French teams — first at Monaco and for the past seven seasons at Paris Saint-Germain, which he left as a free agent after it failed to persuade him to renew his contract. Mbappé didn't take the option for an extra year on the deal he signed two years ago.

In 2021, Madrid was rejected after offering PSG a bid of 180 million euros — the same amount PSG paid Monaco for a teenage Mbappé years earlier.

Madrid president Florentino Pérez made signing Mbappé a strategic club priority since the powerhouse failed to lock him up when Mbappé visited the club’s facilities at age 14.

He, instead, opted to join Monaco’s youth academy, and became a teenage sensation when he helped lead the Principality club to the Champions League semifinals in 2017.

The Qatar-backed PSG turned down Madrid's 2021 bid, but with Mbappé’s contract expiring the next year, Madrid took it for granted that Mbappé, who had never hid his desire to one day play for the Spanish club, would come south of the Pyrenees in 2022.

But French President Emmanuel Macron encouraged him to stay, and Mbappé stunned Pérez and most of the soccer world by signing a contract extension to “continue his adventure” in Paris.

Madrid won the 2022 Champions League after beating Mbappé’s PSG in the knockout rounds.

Pérez said after Mbappé turned down his club two years ago that perhaps it was best he didn’t come after all, but there were no bridges burned and Madrid is getting a once-in-a-generation player as a free agent.

Mbappé’s resume features winning the World Cup at 19, a World Cup final hat trick at 23, seven French leagues, four French Cups and a proven prowess for dominating games with his scoring ability.

Mbappé captains France. When they won the World Cup in 2018, he was the second teenager after Pelé to score in a World Cup final. Four years later, he was one of only two players in history to score a hat trick in a World Cup final when France fell to Messi's Argentina.

Mbappé was unable to lead PSG to the ultimate goal of a Champions League crown, losing the only final he played in 2020. He also failed to score in both semifinal legs against Dortmund this season.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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