Kylian Mbappe's tryst with Real Madrid goes a long way back. At just 11, the Spanish giants invited him at the Valdebebas to train with their U-12 side. While he was leaving the premises he bumped into Cristiano Ronaldo, a player that he has revered since boyhood.
As he was exchanging greetings with the Portuguese, Zinedine Zidane appeared and that left the teenager awestruck. Somehow, he managed to muster enough courage and asked if he could have a picture with Ronaldo and then Zidane went ahead and clicked the picture. The former Real Madrid coach also gifted him a Madrid shirt. More importantly, all this was revealed by Mbappe himself in a comic book that was released in 2021.
A few other clubs like Bayern Munich, and Chelsea were also vying to sign him. He even travelled to London and played a match against Charlton Athletic for the Blues' youth team. However, he was not interested to leave France so early in his career and then settled for Monaco. At 16 years 347 days, he became Monaco's youngest player to play a professional match.
July 2017: Real Madrid's first move to secure his signature
In the summer of 2017, Madrid came once again knocking on the doors of Monaco. The teenager had a sensational season in Ligue 1 where he scored 15 goals and provided eight assists. It was widely reported that the two clubs have agreed in principle for the transfer of Mbappe, a deal worth €160m, plus a further €20m in objectives. However, Monaco came out and denied the reports.
Zidane, then coach of Madrid commented, "Anything can happen between now and 31 August.”
August 2017: PSG hijack Madrid's deal
PSG sniffed that the deal was not through and just three weeks after signing Neymar, they put in a bid to land Mbappe. They splashed Є180m and hijacked Madrid's deal, with Wilfried Mbappe (Kylian's father) playing a crucial role. He was reportedly set to earn Є7m per season at Madrid, while PSG offered him Є15m. Just hours before the transfer deadline in August, Mbappe joined PSG on loan from Monaco including a buy-option that would keep the player at the Parc des Princes till June 30, 2022.
September 2017: Mbappe explains his decision to join PSG
During his presentation as a PSG player, Mbappe explained why he chose the Paris-based club over Madrid and Manchester City, who also joined the race later on to sign him.
"I felt that at PSG, I would have more opportunities to play than at Real Madrid," he said. He also revealed that he declined an offer from Manchester City.
"Guardiola is a coach who breathes football, he won everywhere and he transmits passion and makes you want to play. When I spoke with him, he explained how he would use me in his tactical system. But I did not say no to Guardiola, I said no to Manchester City. Moreover, Neymar signing was an extra boost for me," he further added.
November 2019: Ex-Monaco vice-president Vasilyev further throws light on Mbappe rejecting Madrid
Former Monaco vice-president Vadim Vasilyev in an interview with Telefoot mentioned that Mbappe will have a future with Real Madrid beyond his Paris Saint-Germain days as he wants to "go further" than any other player. He even admitted that he would have rather sold Mbappe to Zinedine Zidane's side than PSG. He felt that an eventual move to Los Blancos is "inevitable" given the striker's astronomical rise over the last few years during a "yes/no" series of questions.
"He told me: 'Vadim, I think it's too early, I'm Parisian, I do not want to leave my country like that, I want to become a great player here first'," said Vasilyev.
Summer of 2021: Madrid comes for Mbappe with renewed vigour
Even before the transfer window opened, there were several reports that Mbappe is going to force his way out of Paris. In April 2021, during an interview with El Chiringuito TV, Madrid President Florentino Perez said 'Tranquilo' which assured Madrid fans that Mbappe is on his way to Madrid.
"I go with the mask and they tell me "Sign Mbappé!" Madrid needs a change from time to time. I do everything possible so that Madrid does not lose its rightful place. Trqnauilo!," stated Perez.
June 2021: Al-Khelaifi makes it clear that Mbappe is not for sale
However, PSG President Nasser Al-Khelaifi made it amply clear that he was not going to let Mbappe leave despite the Frenchman entering the last year of contract.
"I will be clear," Al-Khelaifi told L'Equipe. "Mbappe is going to stay in Paris. We will never sell him and he will never leave on a free [transfer]. Mbappe has everything he needs in Paris. Where can he go? What club, in terms of ambition, can compete with PSG today? All I can say is that things are going well, and I hope we can reach an agreement [on a new contract]. This is Paris, this is his country. He has a mission, not only to play football but to promote Ligue 1, his country and his capital," he stated.
However, the rumours refused to die. So Khelaifi once again firmly stated during the presentation of Lionel Messi that the French player is going nowhere.
"We know his future, he has already said he doesn't want to leave the team and he will stay. He said he wanted a competitive team, and you can't have a more competitive team [than what we have here]. He has no reason to do anything other than stay. He is Parisian and has a winning mentality. He's one of our players," he asserted.
Even French President Emmanuel Macron stated, "PSG is a great club that has known how to develop him and it is important that he stays at PSG, for the club and for the French league.
"That said, I'm not going to pressure anyone on this. They are very personal decisions and I respect them."
August 2021: Madrid tables a reported €200m offer
Meanwhile, several Real Madrid players and even coach Carlo Ancelotti came out in the public and praised Mbappe. On August 30, Mbappe himself used the word 'tranquilo' to answer a question by a journalist which sparked further debate.
On the deadline day, Madrid tabled an offer of €200m reportedly but was once again rejected. Meanwhile, the player himself had rejected several renewal offers that were presented to him by the PSG management.
October 2021: Mbappe throws light on what happened in the summer
When all the furore had died down, Mbappe himself cleared the air in October.
"I asked to go and, from that moment, I didn't want to renew," Mbappe told Jerome Rothen for RMC Sport.
"I wanted the club to accept a transfer for me so that they could receive some money and look for a quality replacement. I told them early enough for the club to be able to react. My hope was that we could both benefit and find a good deal. I didn't like the belief that things would be done in the final week of August.
"I had told the club at the end of July that I wanted to go. My position was clear. I said I wanted to go and I said it quite early. But, I respect those at the club and also told them 'If you don't want me to go then I will stay'," he commented.
January 2022: Mbappe becomes free to negotiate a summer move with Real Madrid
With less than six months in his contract, Mbappe was free to talk to Madrid about a possible move in the summer. Reports emerged that the player has agreed to sign a pre-contract with Madrid which will see him earn €50m a season. However, with the then-impending clash with PSG in the Champions League, both parties decided to keep the deal under wraps.
April 2022: Talks of renewal with PSG gain wind
However, in April, it was reported that Mbappe is freshly mulling over a new contract offer from Paris Saint-Germain worth €50 million per year as his potential transfer to Real Madrid hit a snag due to an image rights dispute. Reports suggested that Mbappe wanted to have 100 per cent control over his image rights, but Madrid were only willing to agree to a 50-50 arrangement. It is also believed that his mother, Fayza Lamari, went to the Qatari capital to help broker the best possible terms for her son.
One of the French media outlets even reported that Mbappe had decided to sign a new contract with PSG, only for his mother to deny those reports later.
Il n’y a aucun accord de principe avec le Paris Saint-Germain (ou un quelconque autre club). Les discussions autour de l’avenir de Kylian se poursuivent dans un climat de grande sérénité pour lui permettre de faire le meilleur choix, dans le respect de toutes les parties https://t.co/VHMTOENct1— lamari fayza (@FayzaLamari) May 5, 2022
May 2022: Packers and Movers picture adds to the confusion
On May 9, Mbappe visited Madrid with teammate Achraf Hakimi which further fuelled speculation that he is ready for a move to the Spanish capital.
On May 15, at the UNFP awards, where he was named the best player in Ligue 1 for the third consecutive season, Mbappe spoke once again about his future.
"It will be known very soon, it’s almost done. My decision is made, yes, almost.
"Why was I so slow? You have to respect all parties.
"I know that people expected a lot from me. That's normal. I'm in a hurry too. But it's not only about me. But here it is, it's finished right now, there are just some details left," he stated.
While Real Madrid remain confident that they would be finally able to land him, PSG hope that their lucrative financial offer will convince the World Cup winner to continue in Paris. The next week might give away all the answers.