Macron happy to dive into the transfer saga around Mbappé

Since Emmanuel Macron became President of France in May 2017, it’s been a bit like the golden age of French sport.

In 2024, the Summer Olympics will come to Paris, 100 years after they were last held in the city in 1924. In 2018, France won the FIFA World Cup in Russia, their second title. This year, France won the Six Nations with an impressive Grand Slam performance and will be one of the favorites for the Rugby World Cup, also hosted in France, next year.

In 2017, Macron pledged to “strengthen the place of sport” at the heart of French society. Five years later, after being elected ahead of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, Macron will now see these big events as president.

Reports say Macron speaks to the superstar regularly without intermediaries and during the coronavirus pandemic he asked Mbappé to encourage young people to get vaccinated

Football is the most popular sport in France, and Macron has always sought to use being a fan to his advantage, underscoring his love for Olympique de Marseille, traditionally the best-supported club in France. Macron attends the Coupe de France final every year, and like Boris Johnson, Macron was quick to denounce plans for the European Super League even though no French teams were taking part in the plans.

The image of a pro-European and pro-international diplomacy is at the heart of Macron’s selling point. Having failed to convince Vladimir Putin of the abyss of war in Ukraine, Macron embarked on a much less serious, but nonetheless complicated, world of multimillion-euro football transfer negotiations, mainly the transfer saga surrounding France’s most famous sportsman, Kylian Mbappé.

Astronomical figures are quoted to keep Mbappé at Qatar-funded Paris Saint-Germain, a signing fee of £150million if he puts pen to paper on a two-year contract extension. At this point, Mbappe has refused to sign a contract to stay in Paris, with Spanish giants Real Madrid expected to top the list of suitors. Mbappé said he would remain silent on his decision until the end of the Ligue 1 season on May 21.

Opportunity

Macron, who is not one to miss an opportunity to get involved in a major talking point, took the unusual step of intervening in an attempt to persuade the Les Bleus star to stay at the Parc de Princes, contacting him personally and by making it public that he wanted Mbappé. continue to play his club football in France. It doesn’t matter that he urges the best player of his ‘beloved’ Marseille rivals to stay in Ligue 1.

“Unfortunately, we can’t talk about Kylian Mbappé who goes to OM [Marseille]. If he was willing to come, I would have fought to make it happen…but he said “not that far”. So it is better to fight for him to stay in Ligue 1,” Macron said.

<a class=French President Emmanuel Macron and French striker Kylian Mbappé. Photography: Jean Catuffe/Getty” height=”391″ data-src=”https://www.irishtimes.com/polopoly_fs/1.4865211!/image/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_620/image.jpg” width=”620″/>

French President Emmanuel Macron and French striker Kylian Mbappé. Photography: Jean Catuffe/Getty

Last year, Macron said it was important that Mbappé stay “for the club, for the French Championship”, while saying “I will never put pressure on a player, it’s an intimate, personal choice. which I respect, it’s a career development”.

On another occasion, Macron spoke highly of Mbappé, saying he “demonstrates the qualities of the greatest: lucidity, courage, resistance”.

In the searing 2019 French drama Les Misérables (unrelated to the popular musical), which is set right after France’s World Cup victory, Mbappe’s name is regularly thrown around by the black teenagers of Montfermeil, who will later be involved in a heavy police day. violence in the crucible of the suburbs. The fortunes of Mbappé, the son of an immigrant turned national hero, stand in stark contrast to the troubled, impoverished teenagers and ensuing violence in the film.

Mbappé’s stature in France among young people is seen as invaluable to the French government, his success offering hope to millions and distracting attention from government failures in deprived northern suburbs. Reports say Macron speaks to the superstar regularly without an intermediary and during the coronavirus pandemic he asked Mbappé to encourage young people to get vaccinated.

Cultural icon

Mbappé is a commercial juggernaut in France, and already a cultural icon of Paris. The boy of Cameroonian and Algerian parents from Bondy who became one of the world’s biggest stars, a trip to Paris will see Mbappé littered with billboards, TV ads for companies like Hublot and Nike, while his image is ahead of the sport’s biggest video game, EA’s Fifa Sport Soccer Series. According to the Spanish newspaper La Cuatro, the French president has offered to Mbappé’s entourage to make him the ambassador of the French delegation to the 2024 Olympics.

It had become accepted that Mbappé would leave PSG for Real Madrid to pursue his career despite not signing a new contract with PSG last summer, to test himself in a stronger league and give himself a better chance. chance to win the Champions League. Despite winning Ligue 1, this season was seen as a failure for PSG, although their star still shines with 33 goals in 42 games.

Macron is an image-driven politician (as seen when he suddenly ditched his traditional navy suit for stubble, jeans and a hoodie in leader-style ‘war room’ photos Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelenskiy), and understands that sport brings collective happiness. A happy electorate is more likely to want things to stay the same. Or so the logic goes. Just ask Charlie Haughey or Shane Ross.

Despite Mbappé’s good terms with Macron, he did not follow fellow French players Dimitri Payet and Blaise Matuidi in backing Macron in the election against Le Pen. But if Macron’s latest attempt helps keep Mbappé in Paris, it will be the perfect start to his sports-focused tenure and next five years as president.

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