Kylian Mbappe holds back tears as he reflects on ‘dream’ Real Madrid transfer

A visibly emotional Kylian Mbappe had to fight back tears as he reflected on his “dream” move to Real Madrid during his presentation.

Mbappe completed a long-awaited free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain to Madrid earlier this summer and, following his return from Euro 2024, was presented to a sold-out Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday.

“I want to thank president Florentino [Perez] and all the people who have allowed me to be here,” Mbappe told the crowd in perfect Spanish. “My family, who are very happy – I see my mother crying… It’s an incredible, incredible day.

“Since I was a child I had the dream of playing here and it means a lot. I want to thank all the Real Madrid fans. For many years they have given me a lot of affection. Thank you.

“I am very excited, it means a lot to me to be here. I am very happy to be part of the club of my dreams and the greatest club in the history of football.

“I don’t want to go on any longer, I don’t want to cry!”

Kylian Mbapp

Mbappe kisses the Madrid badge / Anadolu/GettyImages

Mbappe then went inside for his first press conference and revealed the strength of his bond with Madrid.

“I feel privileged,” he continued. “It was my childhood dream and I had been waiting for this moment for a long time. Now it is a reality. A dream is priceless. My dream was to be a Real Madrid player and now I am one. It is a great satisfaction for me and my family. They know the efforts I have had to make to get here. I am very happy.

“I want people to realise what it means to me to be here. The stadium is incredible, with all the Real Madrid fans here. I don’t have enough words. I wanted to share this with my family, with the children of my foundation. It’s my personal dream, but I wanted to share it with as many people as possible.”

Asked when he first decided he wanted to play for Madrid, Mbappe explained: “Since I was a child. It’s easy. First it was a dream and then a goal. I knew that my destiny was to play for Madrid, that I would get there one day. Now I’m lucky that day has come.

“I started [studying Spanish] at school. I wasn’t the best at school, but I was 100% proficient in Spanish. My dream was to play for Madrid and I knew that the language was important. I know that speaking Spanish would help me adapt. I’ve also had coaches like Luis Enrique and [Mauricio] Pochettino to speak Spanish with. I’m not afraid of making mistakes and I hope that when I make them people tell me, so I can improve.

“I was sure that the time would come. I had many offers from other clubs, but I always said the same thing: When I left Paris it would be to go to Madrid. In my head it was clear. It was my dream. Many things can happen in football, but this was clear to me.”


4 Euro 2024 stars Arsenal should sign

The conclusion of the summer’s international action is set to kick the transfer window into gear, and Arsenal are one of several Premier League clubs to keep an eye on.

Having pushed Manchester City all the way in the title race for two successive seasons, the target for Mikel Arteta and Arsenal in 2024/25 is to go one better. With Pep Guardiola potentially exiting the division at the end of the upcoming campaign, Arteta may have just one more chance to beat his mentor to the crown.

The Gunners need to streamline this summer in order to ensure their squad is best prepared for another rigorous season. Deadwood must be removed with high-quality added. Arsenal don’t need an overhaul, they just require the finishing touches.

Here are four Euro 2024 stars they should be targeting in the transfer market this summer.

Riccardo Calafiori

Arsenal are negotiating with Bologna for Calafiori’s services / Claudio Villa/GettyImages

Arsenal are already involved with Italian international Calafiori and merely need to negotiate with Bologna to bring the young defender to north London.

After shining for Thiago Motta’s Champions League-bound Rossoblu in a unique function last season, Calafiori made Luciano Spalletti’s Euro 2024 squad and emerged as one of the few bright sparks. It was his trademark driving run out of the defence which set the stage for Mattia Zaccagni’s dramatic late equaliser against Croatia in Italy’s final group game.

Calafiori performed a more traditional centre-back function for his country in Germany, but he showed off his unicorn-like profile last term. Immensely cool in possession and capable of operating in a myriad of zones, Calafiori is the type of Swiss army knife performer Arteta adores.

The Italian could perform multiple roles in the Spaniard’s system, and he represents a notable upgrade over Arsenal’s current left-back options, including Jakub Kiwior and Oleksandr Zinchenko, who’s fallen out of favour.

Nico Williams

Nico Williams has a €58m buyout clause / Richard Pelham/GettyImages

Barcelona are leading the race for one of Spain’s heroes at the tournament, Williams, although Arsenal are one of several Premier League clubs that hold an interest in the 22-year-old winger.

The Spaniard is electrifying down the left flank, and his work during the knockout stages depicted Williams’ ever-improving efficiency in the final third. He’s no mere trickster who dazzles in one-on-one situations, Williams can create via a variety of crosses and score off both feet.

The Athletic Club winger is nothing short of joyous to watch, and Arsenal are shifting their attentions away from a centre-forward in favour of a winger this summer.

Williams fits the bill for this Gunners outfit. Arsenal must be more destructive in transitions to ensure they boast an even greater threat in big away games, and the lightning-quick 22-year-old will supply the requisite threat.

Tijjani Reijnders

Reijnders is a versatile midfield operator / Inaki Esnaola/GettyImages

Arsenal will splash the cash in the middle of the park, but whom they’ll sign is up for debate. The profile of their key midfield addition will depend on the future of Thomas Partey, and whether Arteta fancies utilising Declan Rice as a #6 or #8 moving forward.

The Gunners will target a midfielder comfortable playing in front of the defence as well as in more advanced zones. Arsenal shouldn’t be looking further than Milan’s Reijnders.

The Dutch midfielder has Ilkay Gundogan-like traits and spent the Euros controlling proceedings in the middle of the park. He’s perhaps not a natural dictator, but he’s a lovely technician that’s rarely flummoxed. Reijnders can also carry the ball superbly from deep positions and crash the box when space opens up.

He’s a do-it-all midfielder that has the capacity to excel in multiple roles for Arteta. The Spaniard did hold an interest in Gundogan before he left for Barcelona, so the Arsenal boss must at least boast some intrigue in Milan’s maestro off the back of an impressive Euros.

Dani Olmo

Man City and Arsenal are reportedly keen on Olmo / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/GettyImages

It’d be harsh to suggest that Pedri’s injury, sustained in Spain’s quarter-final win over Germany, was a blessing in disguise. However, it did allow Olmo to come to the fore and the RB Leipzig star had a huge say in his country’s eventual triumph.

Having scored off the bench in the round of 16 against Georgia, Olmo netted the decisive second goal against France in the semi-final before making an all-important goal line clearance to deny Marc Guehi from equalising at the death in the final.

Olmo was a key contributor for an excellent Spain side, dazzling with his ability in and around the opposition’s box. He’s such a crafty customer, and he will be leaving RB Leipzig this summer. Clubs have the option to trigger the release clause in his contract before 20 July, otherwise, they’ll have to negotiate with the German club.

The Spaniard’s profile is ideal for both Guardiola and Arteta, with Man City and Arsenal reportedly both in for him. Just imagine Olmo working in tandem with Martin Odegaard. Dreamy.


Copa America 2024 awards: Golden Boot, Glove and Ball winners

Copa America 2024 is in the books. Argentina is champion once again sitting atop the world rankings with the most Copa Americas won in the competition’s history.

The number one team in the world was always the favorite coming into this summer. La Albiceleste was rarely troubled throughout its run never trailing in the competition. Winning this year’s competition meant that the country has now won three major international trophies in a row winning Copa America in 2021, the World Cup in 2022, and now this year’s event. A historic feat for a team that looks to win back-to-back World Cups in less than two years time.

La Albiceleste’s stars also cleaned up with individual awards at the event, though a player from its final competition won the Golden Ball.

Lautaro Martinez

Argentina v Colombia – CONMEBOL Copa America USA 2024: Final / BSR Agency/GettyImages

Redemption for Lautaro. After tons of criticism in Qatar and fans around the world saying they won in spite of his performances, the Inter Milan striker lifted the Golden Boot. He scored five goals this summer including the tournament winner in extra time against Los Cafeteros.

Martinez has been one of the best strikers in Europe for years winning Serie A, Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana titles with Inter. His performances at the 2022 World Cup, along with the rise of Manchester City’s Julian Alvarez saw the striker lose his starting position. Though, after this summer, he’s quieted the doubters and haters whether starting or off the bench.

Emiliano Martinez

Argentina v Colombia – CONMEBOL Copa America USA 2024: Final / Omar Vega/GettyImages

What is there to say about Dibu Martinez that hasn’t been said already? Another international tournament, another Golden Glove. Three straight Golden Gloves at international competitions for the Aston Villa man has cemented himself as an Argentinian legend.

The meteoric rise he’s been on since his last season at Arsenal winning the FA Cup and Community Shield to helping Aston Villa qualify for the Champions League this past Premier League season has been one of the best stories in the sport.

James Rodriguez

Uruguay v Colombia – CONMEBOL Copa America USA 2024 / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

If James Rodriguez announced himself to the world at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, this summer he reminded the world why he’s such a talented and special player.

The Sao Paulo player won the Golden Ball signifying himself as the best player of the tournament, a consolation prize after heartbreak in the final. James assisted six times in the tournament, four more than Nicolas de la Cruz and Alexis Mac Allister.

He also overtook Radamel Falcao this tournament as the fourth-most capped player in Los Cafeteros history. A remarkable tournament for the player despite it ending in disappointment.


Gareth Southgate makes Harry Kane fitness admission after Euro 2024 final

England manager Gareth Southgate has admitted that Harry Kane fell short of his ideal physical level at Euro 2024, with the Three Lions left unable to hide from fitness issues at the tournament.

A back injury ruled Kane out of Bayern Munich’s final two games of the club season and the England captain, despite scoring three times, never looked his usual self over the past four weeks.

Luke Shaw was also selected as the squad’s only recognised left-back, even having not played at club level for several months because a hamstring problem. He missed the entire group stage and was only eventually fit enough to start the final after two substitute appearances.

Elsewhere, Harry Maguire was cut from the provisional squad due to injury, while Jordan Henderson suffered from a muscle problem in March and April and never made the list in the first place. The pair of senior leaders have 144 senior caps between them.

“Physically, it’s been a tough period for Harry. He came in short of games and didn’t quite get up to the level we’d all hope,” Southgate told the BBC cameras post-match, explaining his withdrawal of Kane only an hour into the final.

“We felt Ollie [Watkin]’s freshness would allow us to press a bit better and offer us a threat in behind. I thought they both did what we wanted.”

Harry Kane

Harry Kane finished the Euro 2024 final on the bench / Dan Mullan/GettyImages

The England boss similarly told BBC Radio 5 Live: “I think Harry has come into the tournament having had an injury at the end of the season. He’s played a lot of minutes, we’ve tried to manage those minutes as well as we could.

“He’s led the team incredibly well. We’ve lost a lot of leadership from the group with injuries to Henderson and Maguire, so a lot has fallen on Harry’s shoulders, he’s done that exceptionally well.”

On the subject of Shaw and the fitness problems in general, Southgate said to ITV after the final whistle: “There’s no hiding we’ve had some issues coming into the tournament, we’ve managed to deal with most of them and got Luke out tonight, but we’ve just fallen short in the end.”

He elaborated in his post-match press conference: “So many of our players came into the camp having missed the end of the season, we’ve managed to get Luke through 90 minutes when he hasn’t played for four months. We’ve had Kobbie [Mainoo] as a young player who’s done incredibly well, but the amount of football he’s had this year… Jude [Bellingham], we were about to take off because he was cramping as well.”


Real Madrid tickets for Kylian Mbappe unveiling hit by resale price gouging

Tickets for Kylian Mbappe’s presentation as a Real Madrid player at the Bernabeu have sold out, with some fans reselling their passes for exorbitant fees.

Mbappe left Paris Saint-Germain at the end of his contract to complete a long-awaited move to Los Blancos and the club have confirmed his unveiling will take place on Tuesday. The France captain will also take the number 9 shirt.

Madrid announced their ticketing stance on Thursday, revealing members can attend the event for free.

The online queue for tickets saw supporters flock to Madrid’s website, with more than 100,000 people jostling for access, but it has now been claimed that some fans have since posted their passes on reselling websites to make a quick buck.

Kylian Mbappe

Mbappe signed for Madrid after leaving PSG / Alex Grimm/GettyImages

Prices have ranged from €30 to €200, leaving some angry, but the Bernabeu is still expected to be packed to the rafters for the World Cup winner’s official arrival.

It is set to be a memorable spectacle with all sorts of exciting displays being set up at the Bernabeu. It could be similar to Cristiano Ronaldo’s unveiling as a new Madrid player back in 2009.

The Portugal international was also handed the number 9 shirt before switching to 7. Mbappe will likely request the 10 jersey once midfield stalwart Luka Modric leaves the club.

Mbappe will be keen to move on quickly from what was a disappointing Euro 2024 campaign. His France side reached the semi-finals but the 25-year-old could only score one penalty before their exit to Spain in the last four.

The former Monaco star was hamstrung by a nose injury in Les Bleus’ first game of the tournament which left him needing to wear a mask for the remainder of the competition.