MADRID: Real Madrid wants to quickly forget about Kylian Mbappé and turn its focus back on the Champions League final against Liverpool.
Four days before the final in suburban Paris, Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti and his players tried their best to avoid talking about the France forward and his decision to stay with Paris Saint-Germain.
Mbappé made the surprising announcement on Saturday, dealing a major blow to Madrid and its fans, who were certain he would be playing in the Spanish capital next season.
“It’s very clear for us that we have to think about our own things,” Ancelotti said Tuesday. “We’ve never talked about players from other squads. We respect everyone, every decision, every club. We have to do our own job. It’s very clear and obvious what we have to think about, which is to prepare for the final.”
Madrid as a club had not made any comments about Mbappé's decision, although some players were quick to post messages praising the club and saying it was a honor to wear its jersey.
Mbappé had said last year he wanted to join Madrid but PSG turned down offers of nearly 200 million euros ($214 million) for the player. The France forward was widely expected to complete a move to Madrid after becoming a free agent at the end of this season, but instead opted to sign a three-year contract with PSG.
“I’ve never talked about players who are not playing for Real Madrid, and I will never talk about players who are not playing for Real Madrid,” Ancelotti said.
Mbappé’s decision to reject Madrid was the most talked-about subject in Spain in recent days, leaving the Champions League final to the side.
Madrid will be trying to win a record-extending 14th European title on Saturday at Stade de France in its fifth Champions League final in eight seasons.
Madrid won its 10th European Cup eight years ago with Ancelotti as coach, then clinched three straight titles from 2016-18 with Zinedine Zidane at the helm. Madrid defeated Liverpool in the 2018 final in Kyiv.
“There was a lot more pressure then (in 2014). It had been several years since Madrid had won the Champions League. It was almost an obsession for everyone,” Ancelotti said. “Now Madrid fans are motivated, but not so much obsessed about it, and I think that can give us an advantage.”
Ancelotti, who can become the first coach to win four Champions League titles, will have Madrid at full strength on Saturday. He said veteran left back Marcelo has a small issue but should recover in time for the final. Central defender David Alaba, who missed several matches because of a muscle injury, is ready to play in the final.
“The starting lineup is not really a problem, to be honest,” Ancelotti said. “It's not a match for only 11 players. And those who have entered off the bench have done well to help us so far. Everything has gone well for us so far.”
Madrid reached the final after comebacks against PSG in the round of 16, Chelsea in the quarterfinals and Manchester City in the semifinals.
“I hope this time it's Liverpool trying to rally against us,” Ancelotti said. “It will be an entertaining final, very even.”