MADRID (AP)Aurelien Tchouameni said nothing steered him away from fulfilling his dream of playing for Real Madrid. Not even a chat with Kylian Mbappe.
The promising France midfielder made his move to Madrid official on Tuesday, saying he had no doubts about where he wanted to play despite having offers from other clubs and discussing a possible transfer to Paris Saint-Germain with Mbappe, who recently decided to stay with the French club after showing interest in playing for Madrid.
”Kylian stayed with PSG and he knew I was leaving Monaco, so he wanted to know if I could go to PSG,” Tchouameni said as he was officially introduced by Madrid. ”But I told him that my first option was always Real Madrid and he understood it perfectly.”
The 22-year-old Tchouameni signed a six-year contract with Madrid. He joined from Monaco on a reported fee of up to 100 million euros ($104 million), including variables.
Tchouameni did not say which other clubs made offers. He said he was just waiting for Madrid’s call.
”The moment Madrid called I told my agent and the club to find the best deal for everyone,” he said. ”I didn’t doubt it for a second. It was my dream. I want to leave my mark in soccer and Madrid is the best club where I can do that.”
Mbappe, Tchouameni’s teammate on the French national team, upset Madrid and its fans after backing down from a free-agent move to the Spanish club this season. PSG had already turned down an offer from Madrid last year.
Tchouameni made his first statements speaking well in Spanish, saying he was happy to be joining ”the best club in the world” and to have a chance to help it win more titles.
He said he is inspired by American basketball greats Koby Bryant and Michael Jordan, because ”they always gave their maximum to be able to play at a high level,” and said he will contribute with good field vision, passing, physical strength and ability to regain possession.
Tchouameni is the latest French addition to refresh Madrid’s aging midfield currently led by 36-year-old Luka Modric, 32-year-old Toni Kroos and 30-year-old Casemiro.
Madrid last year brought in 19-year-old Frenchman Eduardo Camavinga from Rennes, who impressed playing off the bench throughout the season.
The club recently gave Modric a one-year contract extension until June 2023. Kroos’ contract also is good until the end of next season, while Casemiro’s deal is valid until 2025. The trio helped Madrid win five Champions League titles in the last nine seasons, including this year against Liverpool.
”Madrid and its fans always want more, and our focus now is already on winning a 15th European title,” Madrid club president Florentino Perez. ”We have a great squad but we know we have a big challenge ahead and we need to add players who are talented and eager to win, so today we bring a magnificent player who will help us keep improving.”
Perez thanked Tchouameni for having ”chosen Madrid instead of other clubs.”
Another young midfielder in the squad is 23-year-old Federico Valverde, the Uruguay international who has been with the senior team since 2018.
Tchouameni has played with Monaco since January 2020 after joining from Bordeaux.
The other Frenchmen in Madrid’s squad are left back Ferland Mendy and striker Karim Benzema, the team’s best player this season as the club also won the Spanish league and the Spanish Super Cup.
Tchouameni will be wearing the No. 18, which was Gareth Bale’s number until the Wales international left at the end of the season.
Other players leaving the squad include Francisco Isco and veteran Brazilian defender Marcelo, who played 16 seasons and is the player with most titles ever with the club, 25.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni