Wednesday, April 24News That Matters

Benzema sends message to Kylian Mbappe after Champions League triumph

Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema says he ‘respects’ Kylian Mbappe’s decision to remain at Paris Saint-Germain and insists their relationship will still be intact.

The 23-year-old, who led Ligue 1’s scoring charts with 28 goals, was courted by the Spanish champions and there had been an expectation that he would sign for Real on a free transfer.

But instead he made the shocking decision to renew with the Parisians, signing a new, mega-money deal until 2025 – with even French president Emmanuel Macron believed to have been enlisted to persuade Mbappe to stay at the club.

Real were furious with Mbappe’s decision and Benzema did not seem pleased either, uploading two cryptic images; the first was a picture of his hand pointing at the Madrid badge and the other showed the late Tupac with the man alleged to have betrayed him in the background.

The striker had avoided talking about Mbappe’s decision in the build-up to the Champions League final – which Real won 1-0 against Liverpool – but has now addressed the matter and played down suggestions of a feud between them.

‘I would have liked him to have been able to fulfil his dream of playing for Real Madrid, being together,’ Benzema told Telefoot.

‘He chose PSG, we must respect him. It’s his choice, he has a lot of responsibilities. ‘We will enjoy playing together in the national team. Everyone makes their own choices.’

He added: ‘Real Madrid are Real Madrid, I’m not disappointed. We are good friends, it won’t affect our relationship.’

Asked last week about Benzema’s cryptic posts, Mbappe said: ‘You don’t have to have done Saint-Cyr [French military training] to understand that it comes from above, right?

‘I didn’t want to overdo it. I know everyone was talking about Karim and Kylian, Kylian and Karim… but when we were with the national team, we were only talking about the evening meal. We weren’t talking about Real Madrid.

‘I didn’t want to force this thing. When we see each other, we’ll discuss it. He’ll ask me why and I’ll explain this choice to him.’

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