Saturday, July 2, 2022

Kylian Mbappé exclusive: PSG superstar is aware of Real Madrid criticism: ‘I chose to stay because I’m French’

PARISFresh off signing his new contract at Paris Saint-Germain, Kylian Mbappé told CBS Sports exclusively on Monday that he decided to stay in France last week and that his announcement over the weekend was part of the whirlwind which has followed him finally making up his mind in the face of strong interest from Real Madrid.

“My decision was last week,” the 23-year-old French international said. “I was sure of it. Then, the other things came fast. The presentation at Parc des Princes, scoring a hat trick, winning the league and all those things. This week, the press conference with you guys and now I am here.”

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Mbappé scored three times in a 5-0 win over FC Metz as PSG celebrated a record equaling Ligue 1 title last Saturday and Les Parisiens’ No. 7 revealed before kickoff that he had extended his contract until 2025 earlier that day.

The former AS Monaco man’s decision to snub the chance to join Real Madrid has met with fierce criticism in Spain with many suggesting that Los Blancos will forever close the door on the superstar who believes that his choice will ultimately be understood at Santiago Bernabeu.

“I accept, and I understand,” Mbappé told CBS Sports exclusively of the Spanish reaction. “First, I want to thank everybody there in Madrid for showing me a lot of love and affection. Really, I was proud to have my name next to Real Madrid, the club and the fans. I understand that they are disappointed and that is normal. I do not have any reaction; I just understand it. They must understand that I chose to stay in my country because I am French. I am sure that they will understand.”

Mbappé was clear that his decision was not only in PSG’s favor but also that of Ligue 1 and his home country of France when explaining how painstaking the process was behind one of the most anticipated decisions in recent sporting history.

“It was part of my decision,” said Mbappé of his love for his homeland and its capital Paris. “I had a lot of power as it was an important decision — the hardest of my life. I am proud now because it was my decision. I thought about it with my whole family, the people who work with me and everyone gave me their advice. After that, I decided, and I think it was the right choice.”

On Real Madrid reaching this season’s UEFA Champions League final (Saturday, 3 p.m. ET | CBS and Paramount+) in the French capital, Mbappé was quick to point out the differences between PSG and the Spanish titleholders — notably their age with the LaLiga powerhouse over twice their Parisien counterparts’ age.

“You do not have to compare,” he told CBS Sports. “Paris and Real are two different clubs. Paris is a younger club which is just a little older than 50 years. Real is a different club in a different league. I wanted to write my country’s story in my country’s league — in the capital. That is why I have stayed a bit longer.”

Regarding his ability to finally end PSG’s wait for Champions League glory, Mbappé expressed his hope that he could be one of the players to finally bring home that success but emphasized how any future triumphs will remain collective.

“I do not know if I am the man, but I will be one of the men as soccer is a team sport,” said the man from Bondy. “Of course, I will give everything to help PSG to win this Champions League which everyone has waited so long for.”

Mbappé will now head off for France international duty in the UEFA Nations League before taking a deserved break over the summer before reporting back for duty next campaign with big changes expected at Parc des Princes between now and then.

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