Mbappe doubts linger as Real Madrid hover but Pochettino backs 'mature' PSG star

By Sports Desk January 02, 2022

Kylian Mbappe has convinced Mauricio Pochettino he will not be affected by transfer speculation as Paris Saint-Germain battle to keep the striker from Real Madrid's clutches.

France frontman Mbappe was targeted by Madrid in August and the Spanish giants are expected to attempt to sign the 23-year-old once more, with his contract less than six months away from expiring.

So far, Mbappe has given little indication about his plans, and it is an enviable choice that awaits the former Monaco player.

PSG head coach Pochettino will keep his focus on matters on the pitch, with contract negotiations not part of his remit. Mbappe could leave on a free transfer, but PSG hope he will agree to lucrative terms on a long-term extension.

Pochettino has been assured by Mbappe's words and deeds that the player who has 15 goals in 24 games this season will not be distracted by the question of where he will be playing next term.

"I think the contract situations in football only affects you if you are not mature enough," Pochettino said in a news conference on Sunday.

"Kylian Mbappe is mature and we know what the conditions are here. We do not think it is a problem. We all hope Kylian Mbappe can stay at the club for many years, but there are two sides to making this decision.

"We hope that Kylian Mbappe continues performing as he has been doing and that there is a positive solution for everyone."

Mbappe has said he has no intention of jumping ship in mid-season, meaning PSG can plan around him for the rest of this campaign.

They lead Ligue 1 and are through to the last 16 of the Champions League, where Madrid of all teams will be their opponents, which will inevitably trigger a new wave of speculation.

Speaking to CNN, Mbappe said in December: "No, I'm not joining Real Madrid in January. In January it's not happening.

"I'm in Paris Saint-Germain, I'm really happy, and I will 100 per cent finish the season as a PSG player. I'll give everything to win with Paris all titles this year."

PSG will hope to win the Coupe de France again, after taking that title in six of the last seven seasons, and begin their campaign against fourth-tier outfit Vannes on Monday.

"I like the Coupe de France," said Pochettino. "It's the oldest competition in France, we love this competition and playing against teams like Vannes. That's real football, it's a football that speaks to everyone and we can’t wait to be there."

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  • Mbappe 'already forgotten' after Madrid's Champions League triumph, claims Perez Mbappe 'already forgotten' after Madrid's Champions League triumph, claims Perez

    Florentino Perez claimed he had "already forgotten" Real Madrid's failed pursuit of Kylian Mbappe after watching his side beat Liverpool in the Champions League final.

    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."

     

  • Klopp says hurting Liverpool 'will come again' as Real Madrid celebrate in Paris Klopp says hurting Liverpool 'will come again' as Real Madrid celebrate in Paris

    Jurgen Klopp admitted Liverpool's players were hurting after their Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid, but declared the Reds "will come again" after the narrow reverse in Paris.

    Klopp added next year's final in Istanbul was already a target, advising supporters: "Book the hotel!"

    A 1-0 loss to Madrid at the Stade de France meant Liverpool were left with FA Cup and EFL Cup triumphs to show for a season in which they threatened an unprecedented quadruple.

    Manchester City denied them the Premier League title on the competition's dramatic final day last Sunday, and it was Champions League specialists Madrid who toppled them on Saturday to claim their 14th European crown, with Vinicius Junior netting a second-half winner.

    "Everyone in the dressing room, nobody feels it was a great season at the moment," Klopp told BT Sport after the loss. "We probably need a few minutes for that, maybe hours."

    He said two decisions had gone against Liverpool by "the smallest margin possible", but did not specify which incidents he was referring to.

    "We played a good game, not the perfect game," Klopp added. "We had a lot of shots but not the clearest, only three or so where [Thibaut] Courtois made top saves.

    "Then we conceded a goal... Vinicius was there and that was it."

    Klopp said Liverpool tried "absolutely everything" after he had told his players to "be more brave in the second half."

    Vinicius struck just before the hour mark, and Liverpool huffed and puffed but were not at their best as Madrid repelled the threat of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, with Courtois outstanding as the last line of defence.

    The Belgian made nine saves in the match, the most on record by a goalkeeper in a single Champions League final (since 2003-04).

    Klopp added he was alone among the Liverpool contingent in being able to put the game swiftly into perspective.

    "It's not hard. I have that already, but I'm the only one in the dressing room," he said.

    "I know it's not the success you want to have, but I have the strong feeling we will come again. That's how it is, because the boys are competitive.

    "We have an outstanding group together and will have again an outstanding group next year. Then we go again. We obviously have to try a bit more often than others but no problem.

    "Where's it next year? Istanbul? Yeah, book the hotel."

  • Vinicius and Courtois star as Madrid down Liverpool: The best Opta facts from Champions League final Vinicius and Courtois star as Madrid down Liverpool: The best Opta facts from Champions League final

    Vinicius Junior and Thibaut Courtois were the heroes as Real Madrid downed Liverpool 1-0 in the Champions League final in Paris, securing a record-extending 14th European crown for Los Blancos.

    Vinicius' second-half winner proved decisive as Liverpool failed to find a way past the outstanding Courtois despite piling on the pressure, as Madrid repeated their 2018 final win over the Reds.

    While Jurgen Klopp's team have now missed out on both the Premier League and Champions League trophies after leading an incredible four-front fight for silverware this season, Carlo Ancelotti has led Madrid to a terrific LaLiga and Champions League double, reaching a personal landmark along the way.

    Here, Stats Perform takes a look at the best Opta facts from the fiercely contested final.

    After kick-off was twice delayed at the Stade de France, Liverpool made a fast start to the contest but found Courtois in imperious form as they eventually fell to their third Champions League final defeat – only Juventus (five) have lost more, while Jurgen Klopp has lost more finals in the competition than any other manager (three).

    It was not for want of trying, however: Liverpool had as many shots on target in the first half (five) as they did in their previous two Champions League final appearances combined (two in 2018 and three in 2019).

    The Reds ended the match having racked up 24 shots, the most on record (since 2003-04) from a team who failed to score in a Champions League final. 

    Meanwhile, Courtois' nine saves in the match made up the highest tally in a single Champions League final (since 2003-04), surpassing Liverpool's Allison (in 2019) and Manchester United's Edwin Van der Sar (in 2011), both with eight.

    Courtois also made 59 saves throughout Madrid's run in the competition this term, setting a new single-season record after Petr Cech made 58 for Chelsea in their triumphant 2011-12 campaign (since 2003-04).

    But it was Vinicius who proved the match-winner, escaping Trent Alexander-Arnold's attentions to tap home from Federico Valverde's cross in the 59th minute.

    Vinicius' goal made him the first South American to register 10 goal involvements in a single Champions League campaign (four goals, six assists) while aged 21 or under since Lionel Messi recorded 14 for Barcelona in 2008-09 (nine goals, five assists).

    Furthermore, at 21 years and 320 days old, the Brazilian became the second-youngest player to net for Los Blancos in a European Cup or Champions League final, after Marco Asensio against Juventus in 2017 (21 years, 133 days), and the first Brazilian to score the winner in the competition's final since Juliano Belletti for Barcelona in 2006, also in Paris (against Arsenal).

    Madrid's victory means they have won the European Cup or Champions League twice as many times (14) as the next-most successful club in the competition's history (Milan with seven), and Los Blancos have also won in each of their last eight final appearances, defeating Liverpool in their past two.

    Finally, Ancelotti became the most successful coach in the competition's history with his fourth title (also 2002-03 and 2006-07 with Milan and 2013-14 with Madrid), as he moved clear of Madrid predecessor Zinedine Zidane and Liverpool great Bob Paisley (both three).

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