After rejecting Real Madrid, PSG’s Mbappe declares, “I wanted to stay in France.”

Kumail Shah
Mbappe and Nasir al-Khelafi

Kylian Mbappe stated last year that he was confident it was the ideal moment to leave Paris Saint-Germain and join Real Madrid, but the France striker said the pull of home drove him to sign a contract extension with the Ligue 1 winners.

Despite Real Madrid’s interest, Mbappe signed a contract extension with PSG last week, keeping the 23-year-old with the French club until 2025. more info

Real Madrid wanted Mbappe last year when he had a year remaining on his contract, and despite having bids as high as 200 million euros ($213 million) rejected last summer, they were willing to wait and sign him for free this year.

“It’s always been a difficult decision… I wanted time to make the right decision. I didn’t have any issues with pressure because I’ve been living with that since I was 14,” Mbappe told reporters on Monday.

“Everybody knows I wanted to leave last year. I was convinced that was the best decision at the time. The context is different now, in sporting terms and personal terms

“France is the country where I grew up, I’ve always lived here, and leaving wasn’t right… The sporting project has changed as well, which made me want to stay, I don’t think my story is over yet.”

Mbappe claimed he made his long-awaited choice last week, but the club advised him not to tell his teammates because they wanted to make it a surprise for the rest of the world.

“I decided the call with (Real president) Florentino Perez,” Mbappe said.

“I have lots of respect for him and Real Madrid. They wanted to do a lot to make me happy. So I thank them for that… I’d like to thank Real fans.

“I hope they’ll understand the fact I’ve chosen to stay in my country. The reality is I’m French. As a Frenchman, I want to stay here and take France towards the top, take this club and league forwards.”

On asking whether he wants to become a captain or not, Mbappe said: “We have one here, so I’m not taking the armband from Marquinhos, he deserves it. I don’t need to be the captain to give my point of view and set an example on the pitch.”

Mbappe also stated that no one has raised many concerns about image rights.

“To be honest, we’ve spoken for months about the sporting project and just for a few minutes we spoke about the money and sporting image (rights),” he quoted.

‘LA LIGA has hit back with the scene’

LaLiga was outraged by Mbappe’s contract extension, threatening to file a complaint against PSG with European soccer’s governing body, UEFA, claiming that the deal “undermines the economic stability” of European sport.

PSG president Nasser Al Khelaifi, on the other hand, claimed it was a case of sour grapes since the Spanish league had lost its luster.

“I think the president of our league can respond to that. Maybe it’s a good thing if Ligue 1 is doing better than LaLiga,” Al-Khelaifi said.

“I think this is a positive thing for us and Ligue 1. LaLiga isn’t the same as three or four years ago. I think it’s fantastic for France, we’re keeping the best player in the world in France.

“Last week everyone thought we lost him. We were not sure, to be honest, but I’ve always believed in him and his family.”

Al-Khelaifi would say whether Mbappe’s deal was the club’s largest in history, but he did say that keeping the 2018 World Cup champion was an “investment in France.”

“(Keeping Mbappe) was a sporting decision rather than a financial one,” he added.

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