Real Madrid: ‘We have done for Mbappé what we have not done for anyone else’

The Spanish club’s president Florentino Pérez replied to the PSG player when the striker wrote him a message saying that he was sorry, but that he was staying in Paris

Kylian Mbappé
The president of PSG, Nasser Al Khelaifi, together with the player Kylian Mbappé.Europa Press

On May 5, on the sidewalk patio of a restaurant in Madrid, during an informal conversation, an official from the Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) soccer team took a journalist aside and told him: “I have bad news for you. [Kylian] Mbappé is staying in Paris.” He put forward several reasons, one of a private and family nature, another to do with soccer (“he wants to win the World Cup in Qatar playing for a French club [which is owned by Qatar], and he feels that he owes PSG a Champions League”). There was even a political reason: the French Republic and the Qatari dictatorship had made it a national cause to get him to stay in Paris.

It was the same week that Real Madrid began to think that Kylian Mbappé might back down and break the verbal agreement with which he had arrived at the club. “We had his word. Contrary to what is believed, one’s word is also important in these big business deals. It defines you before others, before those who will treat you later, to whom you will then have to pawn the same word. But we’re not stupid: we’re talking about hundreds of millions of euros, a 23-year-old young man... We never took it for granted that Mbappe would come,” says a Real Madrid manager.

In reality, the player had still not decided anything on May 5, but he had been spacing out his communications with Madrid for a long time. The PSG source told this newspaper on Sunday: “Of course, I didn’t know it for sure when I said it. But the feeling in the club was that he was staying. In the last few days we had noticed a change, and our department, which works with a view to the coming year, was told to work expecting that our star would remain with us.”

On May 17, upon returning from Qatar, Mbappé gathered his people together and announced his decision. He kept it secret from the public for a few days, while a storm broke out around him, his entourage, PSG and Real Madrid. On Friday, when Madrid was playing at home against Real Betis Balompié, a player in the dressing room asked the president of Real Madrid, Florentino Pérez, about Mbappé. Pérez said that he thought he wasn’t joining the team, that he had backed down.

The next day, Saturday, Pérez received a message on his cellphone from Kylian Mbappé that confirmed his fears. The soccer player told him that he had thought about it a lot, and that he was sorry but that he was finally staying at Paris Saint Germain. Pérez thanked him for letting him know and wished him luck at his club. “It’s a shame that recent circumstances have taken you away from your dream of playing for Real Madrid,” he wrote in his reply, in reference to the fact that everyone from French President Emmanuel Macron to the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, and even the emirate of Qatar had been pressuring Mbappé to stay at PSG.

“They have placed him in a situation of total panic. The pressure that the player has had to endure is not acceptable. They have practically told him that the future of the nation depended on him,” said sources close to Pérez. “The boy has endured as long as he could, and he has endured a lot. He is 23 years old. His head has been turned upside down. We are disappointed but not angry,” added the sources.

A few hours after exchanging messages with Pérez, Mbappé announced his decision to remain with PSG. On Sunday, a Real Madrid official, who was handling negotiations with the French star, shared his thoughts on the news: “My personal opinion is that he never wanted to sign, and he was never close to us. I’m going to say something else. We have done for Mbappé what we have not done for anyone else,” they said. “We did everything we had to do. And we lost. We lost a war that we would never have lost if those we were facing did not have oil money and were not playing with marked cards.”

There is a player who was happy with Mbappé's decision: Rodrygo Goes. The 21-year-old Brazilian striker, in full swing at the end of the season, feared that the arrival of the Frenchman would push him out of the starting lineup. On Saturday night when Mbappé announced that he was not signing with Real Madrid, Rodrygo uploaded a photo of himself kissing the soccer club’s logo. The message read: “Passion.”

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