Saturday, July 2, 2022

PSG chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi hits back at Real Madrid criticism: ‘I do not care about the other leagues’

Paris Saint-Germain chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi told CBS Sports exclusively that he is not interested in LaLiga chief Javier Tebas’ public complaints regarding Kylian Mbappe extending his stay at Parc des Princes until 2025 and that the reaction is Spain has been amusing. The French superstar announced that he will remain in France until at least 2025 over the weekend and Tebas called the move ‘an insult to soccer’ in the latest installment of his war of words with PSG’s Qatari leader.

“You know, I am laughing,” Al-Khelaifi told CBS in exclusivity on Monday. “We have the president of Ligue 1, Vicent Labrune, otherwise I do not care about the other leagues. I only care about Ligue 1 and UEFA. I think it is also a big sign that Ligue 1 is getting stronger and can compete against big leagues and I think that it can grow bigger still.”

Mbappe made it clear in his interview with CBS on Monday that staying in his homeland was a significant factor in his decision to reject Real’s interest and Al-Khelaifi reiterated that it was never about the money for Les Parisiens’ No. 7 with his emphasis on the capital club’s sporting project.

“Kylian never, ever made it about money or the financial offer — all that mattered for him is the sporting project,” said the 48-year-old. “Like when we first invested in the club, we do not want to just write history, we want the big history of the club to be winning trophies. There is one missing, and we are going to fight to get it, but I think that this is amazing. Honestly, that was a statement from Kylian to choose less because of the sporting project and soccer.”

Al-Khelaifi hailed Mbappe’s decision to commit the next three years of his career to his hometown club a major indication that PSG’s ambitions remain intact despite recent UEFA Champions League disappointment at the hands of Real in this edition’s round of 16.

“It was a big statement and a big sign from Kylian and from the club to everyone in the world that our project continues,” the Qatari boss told CBS. “We will keep writing the big history of this great club. We are very happy with what we are trying to achieve and what we are doing. This is just the first step to continue our big history and next season’s project.”

On the topic of changes for this coming season, Al-Khelaifi hinted that there could soon be official word on the changes made by the club with a new head coach and sporting director expected to come in at the expense of Mauricio Pochettino and Leonardo with nothing yet official. He also stressed the importance of “responsibility” in his position of power and accepted that he and the club have made previous errors but that the buck stops at his door at Parc des Princes and that his “love” for the club and “project” is as strong as it ever has been.

“We will announce them very soon,” Al-Khelaifi said. “Yes, there will be changes for the best at the club. Also, anything that has happened in the past or whatever happens in the future, I am the president — I am responsible for it. I take responsibility for everything that has happened, and I blame nobody. With anyone leaving the club or needing to be responsible, I take that full responsibility. I love this responsibility too. I love the club and the project. I have made mistakes, yes, but I think we will fight until we achieve our project’s objectives.”

Al-Khelaifi is relishing the new changes at the club and views them as “fresh air” to the environment around the French capital outfit as he aims to lead PSG into a new era of success with Mbappe playing a key role in that on and off the pitch.

“We have been here for 11 years,” he said. “I think we always try to bring different things to motivate everyone to change and learn from our mistakes. I think that is important as it is like fresh air into the club as we adapt to what is happening in the soccer world. I think this new era is important.”

Luis Campos is expected to fill the sporting director role shortly while ex-Real boss Zinedine Zidane is thought to be high on a list of potential candidates for the head coaching role with former midfielder Thiago Motta also in the running.=

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