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‘A dream come true’: French soccer star Kylian Mbappe joins Real Madrid

Kylian Mbappe is finally a Real Madrid player.

Madrid said on Monday it reached a deal with the France star for the next five seasons, bringing together one of soccer’s top talents and its most successful club.

Madrid did not release any financial details. It also didn’t immediately say when it will officially introduce Mbappe, who is with France preparing for the European Championship.

The announcement came after years of flirtation by Madrid with the player who inherited the status of the best in the game from Lionel Messi.

“A dream come true,” Mbappe said on X. “So happy and proud to join the club of my dream. Nobody can understand how excited I am right now. Can’t wait to see you, Madridistas [Madrid fans], and thanks for your unbelievable support. ¡Hala Madrid!”

The post, with the message written in English, Spanish and French, was accompanied by photos of a young Mbappe wearing a Madrid jacket while visiting the club. One photo was with Madrid great Cristiano Ronaldo.

The club also posted a video on its website showing Mbappe highlights. At the beginning, a voiceover says, “Are you watching closely?”

The 25-year-old World Cup winner joins a Madrid team that is already loaded with talent and still celebrating its latest European triumph — and sixth in 10 seasons.

Just two days ago, Madrid won a record-extending 15th European Cup title when it beat Borussia Dortmund 2-0 in the Champions League final in London.

Mbappe joins a team that already features young stars in Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo and Jude Bellingham.

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His signing could revive Madrid’s “galatico” squads, when it had some of the world’s top players including Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, Brazil’s Ronaldo, David Beckham, Luis Figo and Karim Benzema, among others.

‘The best club in the world’

The current Madrid players were quick to welcome their newest teammate.

“Welcome to the best club in the world,” forward Brahim Diaz said.

“I don’t know if we won the Champion League on Saturday or if we won it today with Mbappe’s signing,” former Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas said.

Until now, Mbappe has played club soccer only for French teams — first at Monaco and for the past seven seasons at Paris Saint-Germain, which he left as a free agent after it failed to persuade him to renew his contract. Mbappe didn’t take the option for an extra year on the deal he signed two years ago.

Monaco wished Mbappe success and posted a photo of the player as a youngster holding Monaco’s jersey in front of several posters of Madrid players, including Ronaldo.

The Spanish league said “a new star in the universe of Real Madrid.”

Perez’s long-standing pursuit

In 2021, Madrid was rejected after offering PSG a bid of 180 million euros, the same amount PSG paid Monaco for a teenage Mbappe years earlier.

Madrid president Florentino Perez made signing Mbappe a strategic club priority since the powerhouse failed to lock him up when Mbappe visited the club’s facilities at age 14.

He, instead, opted to join Monaco’s youth academy, and became a teenage sensation when he helped lead the Principality club to the Champions League semifinals in 2017.

The Qatar-backed PSG turned down Madrid’s 2021 bid, but with Mbappe’s contract expiring the next year, Madrid took it for granted that Mbappe, who had never hid his desire to one day play for the Spanish club, would come south of the Pyrenees in 2022.

But French President Emmanuel Macron encouraged him to stay, and Mbappe stunned Perez and most of the soccer world by signing a contract extension to “continue his adventure” in Paris.

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Madrid won the 2022 Champions League after beating Mbappe’s PSG in the knockout rounds.

Perez said after Mbappe turned down his club two years ago that perhaps it was best he didn’t come after all, but there were no bridges burned and Madrid is getting a once-in-a-generation player as a free agent.

Real Madrid’s pursuit of Mbappe dates back to his visit to the club at the age of 14, when he instead opted to sign for French side Monaco’s youth academy. (Michel Euler/The Associated Press)

Mbappe studied Spanish while he was with Monaco and speaks it well, which should help him blend well into a team that also features French players Eduardo Camavinga, Aurelien Tchouameni and Ferland Mendy.

Mbappe’s resume features winning the World Cup at 19, a World Cup final hat trick at 23, seven French leagues, four French Cups, and a proven prowess for dominating games with his scoring ability.

Mbappe captains France. When they won the World Cup in 2018, he was the second teenager after Pele to score in a World Cup final. Four years later, he was one of only two players in history to score a hat trick in a World Cup final when France fell to Messi’s Argentina.

Mbappe was unable to lead PSG to the ultimate goal of a Champions League crown, losing the only final he played in 2020. He also failed to score in both semifinal legs against Dortmund this season.

Mbappe left PSG as its all-time leading scorer with 256 goals, including a club record 175 in the French league. His highest scoring season with PSG was 44, and he was the top scorer of the French league for the sixth consecutive season (27).

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