French president Macron hopes Mbappe continues to 'enchant'

By Sports Desk January 06, 2022

Kylian Mbappe has received the glowing praise of France's president Emmanuel Macron, who hopes the star continues to "enchant the public".

Mbappe has enjoyed a sensational rise and, at just 23, is already considered one of the world's best players.

Having burst onto the scene at Monaco in 2016-17, Mbappe has gone on to win four Ligue 1 titles, three Coupe de France crowns, the Coupe de la Ligue twice and the 2018 World Cup.

Since joining Paris Saint-Germain in 2017, Mbappe has scored 150 goals in 196 appearances, ranking him third out of players across Europe's top five leagues within that timeframe, behind Robert Lewandowski (208 goals) and new PSG team-mate Lionel Messi (162).

This week, Mbappe was placed at number one on French sports newspaper L'Equipe's list of "30 who make French football".

President Macron, who last year expressed his desire to see Mbappe remain at PSG amid interest from Real Madrid, provided a glowing appraisal of the Parisian forward.

"Kylian Mbappe may be so young, but he espoused the excellence of his sport for [his] club and national team, he lived the most extreme experiences and he demonstrated the qualities of the greatest: lucidity, courage, resistance. I am sure of one thing: he will continue to amaze us," Macron wrote.

"Everyone obviously wishes him to make this promise come true by building the best track record in European football and above all to continue to enchant the public with his jubilant gestures, his brilliant passes and his magical goals. We know that he can.

"But if Kylian Mbappe has taken a special place in the hearts of the French, it is also through his attitude on and off the field."

Mbappe may not be in Ligue 1 for much longer. He does not seem to intend to sign a new deal with PSG and, from this month, he is eligible to sign pre-contract agreements with teams from other countries.

Madrid, who had multiple bids rejected by PSG in August 2021, are the frontrunners for his signature.

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    Mbappe was widely expected to join Madrid when his Paris Saint-Germain contract expired this year.

    But the World Cup winner had a change of heart last week and instead committed to a new three-year deal in Paris.

    Rather than have Mbappe come to Madrid, Madrid came to him on Saturday, visiting the French capital for another Champions League final and another triumph, winning their 14th European crown and making it eight successive victories when reaching the competition's final.

    Vinicius Junior netted the only goal in a 1-0 win, showing the sort of firepower Madrid still possess even without Mbappe.

    And president Perez vowed the LaLiga and European champions will continue to chase the world's best players after their transfer disappointment.

    "Mbappe is already forgotten," he told Movistar. "We have had a perfect season and we will continue to work to get the best players."

    Madrid already have one of the best around in goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who made a record nine Champions League final saves to keep Mohamed Salah and Liverpool at bay.

    "Thibaut has had a spectacular season," Perez said of the Belgian. "He is the best goalkeeper in the world, and that's why we brought him to Real Madrid."

     

  • Madrid's miracle men topple Klopp's mentality monsters to make more history in Paris Madrid's miracle men topple Klopp's mentality monsters to make more history in Paris

    And so at the end of a gruelling 63-game season, mentality monsters Liverpool met their match against the miracle men of Real Madrid.

    For the best part of an hour in Paris, Carlo Ancelotti's side looked off the pace and seemingly in need of some inspiration. Yet Madrid did what Madrid do. 

    Just ask Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City exactly how that feels.

    Unlike in the previous three rounds, no comeback was required on Saturday thanks to Vinicius Junior's 59th-minute strike and a string of incredible Thibaut Courtois saves.

    The pair, who along with Karim Benzema have been key in Los Blancos' run to the final, will now forever be synonymous with their side's 14th continental triumph.

    That is double the number of European Cups or Champions Leagues won by the next most successful side, with Milan on seven and Liverpool just behind, still stuck on six.

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    Not for the first time this season, Ancelotti's men were slow getting out of the blocks, perhaps not helped by a delay to kick-off of more than 30 minutes.

    That was down to crowd congestion, as UEFA put it, with one half of the ground swathed in white 45 minutes before the scheduled start time and the Liverpool end a patchy red.

    Those Liverpool fans who didn't make it into the ground on time would have missed a dominant first-half display from their side.

    The Reds had more shots on target in the first 22 minutes than they did in the entire of the 2019 final, which ended in victory against Tottenham.

    Madrid had not even registered a shot or a touch in the Liverpool box by that point, and the Premier League side's dominance only grew as the warmth in the Paris air turned to a slight chill.

    By half-time, Jurgen Klopp's side had aimed as many shots on target as in their previous two finals combined, including the defeat to Madrid four years ago in Kyiv.

    Crucially, though, Courtois had kept out each of them, including a fine stop from Sadio Mane, helping his shot onto the post.

    That was the seventh time Liverpool had hit the woodwork in the Champions League this season – the most of any side – yet the first signs of the tide turning arrived just before the break.

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    Vinicius – and Courtois – ultimately proved the difference, despite Liverpool throwing all they had at their opponents. The Belgium international made the most Champions League final saves (nine) of any goalkeeper on record (since 2003-04).

    And so, for the eighth final running, the side that scored first went on to win, a run stretching back to Madrid's comeback victory against Atletico Madrid in 2014.

    Digging deep is nothing new for Madrid, then, and again in Paris – albeit perhaps not quite to the same extent as witnessed in previous rounds – their grit and character was on show.

    A side who had trailed for 178 minutes in the semi-final, and 243 minutes in total in this campaign (21 per cent of their minutes played), came through this most difficult of runs.

    Let it not be forgotten that the LaLiga winners saw off the champions of France, the champions of England and the erstwhile champions of Europe en route even before facing Liverpool and toppling them, too.

    It will be particularly special for Ancelotti, who becomes an outright record four-time winner of the Champions League, but this success was about a team who refused to be beaten and again had the ability to grind out a victory just when required.

    Never has a Champions League triumph been so hard-fought and yet so deserved.

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    A first-half strike from Nicolo Zaniolo on Wednesday secured a 1-0 final win over Feyenoord to give the Giallorossi secured their first UEFA trophy and first title in any competition since the Coppa Italia in 2008.

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    "Memories stay forever and history can't be deleted," Mourinho posted on Instagram. "For me these were incredible, unforgettable emotions, but I need to think 'what next'...

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