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Madrid fans gripped by Mbappe fever

Updated: 2024-05-13 09:56
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Paris St Germain's Kylian Mbappe poses with some of the trophies he won with Paris St Germain after his last match with the team at Parc des Princes, Paris, France on May 12, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

MADRID — As the mercury starts to soar in the sunny streets of the Spanish capital, so does the excitement, as Real Madrid fans await the arrival of French striker Kylian Mbappe.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward confirmed on Friday that he is leaving the Ligue 1 side after seven years and, although he did not spell out his future plans, the world expects only one destination.

Madrid has chased Mbappe for years without success, but is finally poised to secure the 25-year-old at the end of his PSG deal.

"We've been waiting for Kylian for a while now, but I think this is it, we're almost there," said jubilant 31-year-old Real Madrid fan Victor Espinoza on Saturday morning.

The French national team captain's name was on everyone's lips — those hawking Madrid merchandise on match days have been selling Mbappe scarves for weeks.

Los Blancos were crowned Spanish champions for the 36th time on May 4 with four games to spare in La Liga, and reached the Champions League final last week by overcoming Bayern Munich.

Signing Mbappe, as the Spanish media are reporting, is now an inevitability and only seems a matter of time. Should a deal be struck, it would cap a glorious few weeks for Madrid president Florentino Perez.

"Au revoir" ran the headline in Spanish sports daily AS, which reported that Mbappe's signing will be announced in the next few weeks "barring any major surprises".

Madrid is not expected to make any announcement until the end of the season, after the Champions League final against Dortmund at Wembley on June 1.

In front of the new-look Bernabeu stadium, Madrid fans were in no doubt that they had finally got their man.

"Mbappe should have been at Real Madrid years ago! All he needs to do now is sign, we're waiting for him!" said Helena Martin, a 42-year-old teacher, as she left the stadium shop.

"He's finished his era in Paris, now he's going to come and enjoy it here in Madrid. He's the best player in the world, and he'll continue to be so here. We can't wait for him," added Espinoza.

Gabriel Urrutia, a 37-year-old club member, insists that Madrid fans, who felt snubbed by Mbappe in the past when he decided to stay in Paris, have already "forgiven him for everything".

"Especially since he knocked out Barca," he joked, referring to PSG's Champions League quarterfinal victory over Madrid's archrival.

"We'll welcome him here with open arms and hope to win everything with him next season."

'A lot of stars'

Mbappe has never won the Champions League, which has been PSG's main ambition during his time at the club.

Real Madrid, meanwhile, has lifted the trophy five times in the last decade.

"Today, it's Mbappe who needs Real Madrid more than Real needs him," added Urrutia.

"A few years ago, it might have been the other way round, but if he wants to win the Champions League and the Ballon d'Or, there's no better place to be."

The biggest questions around Mbappe are his position, as Madrid's star attacker Vinicius Junior also likes to play off the left flank, and how he will adapt.

"There are a lot of stars at Real Madrid," warned Martin.

"He'll have to adapt to being just another player, not the one who's above it all."

Spanish media report that Mbappe's grand unveiling at the Bernabeu is scheduled for the first week of June, after the Champions League final, and before Les Bleus set off for Euro 2024, which starts in Germany on June 14.

With no transfer outlay, Madrid can pay Mbappe one of the highest salaries in the club's history, reportedly around 35 million euros ($38 million) per season.

It is a rung above the team's two current star names, Vinicius and Jude Bellingham, but a far cry from his hefty remittance in Paris.

Mbappe may also arrive with a signing bonus of over 100 million euros ($108 million) and an unprecedented share of his image rights.

However, Madrid supporters do not have to worry about the cost, and are already dreaming about their dream new Galactico's potential impact on the field.

'A PSG legend'

On the eve of his final home game for PSG, Mbappe was hailed as a "club legend" by coach Luis Enrique on Saturday.

"He gave everything for the club and the club also gave him everything," Luis Enrique told a news conference for the 25-year-old, who has scored a club record 255 goals, including 43 this season.

Mbappe informed PSG privately in February of his intention to depart when his contract expires at the end of the current campaign.

The France forward then released a video statement lask week, after PSG's elimination from the Champions League, confirming his decision.

"I will play my last game at the Parc des Princes on Sunday," Mbappe said.

Enrique said: "I understand his decision. These are things that we have already known for a long time, everyone knew it, it doesn't change the general picture. PSG will be stronger next season."


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