Kylian Mbappe has decided to stay at Paris Saint-Germain, turning down Real Madrid in a stunning move that few saw coming.

Los Blancos made multiple bids for Mbappe in 2021, but all were turned down by PSG.

Madrid had been widely expected to sign Mbappe as a free agent, with reports earlier this month claiming the deal was all but done.

Mbappe was voted Ligue 1 player of the season for a third successive time last week, before declaring at the Union Nationale des Footballeurs Professionnels award ceremony in Paris that he would resolve his future before France's Nations League fixtures in June.

However, in an extraordinary twist, reports circulated that Mbappe had in fact decided to take up PSG's offer of a new contract and remain in the French capital.

His mother and agent confirmed on Friday that agreements had been reached with both clubs and, on Saturday before PSG's season-ending game against Metz, it was confirmed Mbappe would be staying put. He has signed a three-year deal.

Mbappe was paraded on the pitch before the game at Parc des Princes, with a "2025" shirt.

The 23-year-old has enjoyed another stellar campaign, scoring 36 goals and providing 21 assists across all competitions for PSG.

Mbappe is the club's second-highest goalscorer, behind Edinson Cavani, having overtaken Zlatan Ibrahimovic when he netted for the 157th time in a PSG shirt earlier this season.

Despite their wealth, PSG keeping hold of Mbappe is a huge coup for the Ligue 1 champions.

PSG's efforts to win the Champions League again fell short this term, despite Mbappe's sensational performance over two legs against Madrid, but with the forward still on board, alongside Lionel Messi and Neymar, European success will again be the priority target in 2022-23.

 

LaLiga chief Javier Tebas took a swipe at Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi as it emerged Real Madrid have missed out on Kylian Mbappe, claiming the Qatari was "as dangerous as the Super League". 

The Spanish league did not have sufficient appeal to persuade Mbappe to give up the riches on offer at PSG, as reports on Saturday said the 23-year-old has picked Paris over Madrid. 

Al-Khelaifi has been president at PSG since October 2011, with Qatar Sports Investments orchestrating dramatic change at the French club, bringing a host of global superstars to the Parc des Princes. 

He resisted pushing PSG into the controversial European Super League project, but the enormous investment in the club has not gone unquestioned. They have been able to attract the likes of Neymar, Lionel Messi and Sergio Ramos away from LaLiga. 

LaLiga president Tebas has now questioned how PSG can afford to offer World Cup winner Mbappe what is expected to be one of the biggest deals in the history of football. 

Cadena Cope radio show Tiempo de Juego has claimed LaLiga could launch a complaint against PSG over the renewal of Mbappe, questioning whether the Ligue 1 champions are operating within financial fair play limits. 

Tebas wrote on Twitter: "What PSG are going to do by renewing Mbappe with large amounts of money (namely where and how they pay him) after giving losses of €700m in recent seasons and having more than €600m of salary bill, is an INSULT to football. Al-Khelaifi is as dangerous as the Super League." 

Kylian Mbappe looks set to stay at Paris Saint-Germain, and reports of his decision to turn down a move to Real Madrid have been welcomed by the mayor of the French capital.

Anne Hidalgo, who has been serving as the mayor of Paris since 2014, was quick to react to news that the superstar striker is seemingly poised to extend his contract.

The saga that had seen PSG and Madrid in a tug-of-war over the France international's services looks to have been won by the Ligue 1 champions.

Widespread reports in France and Spain on Saturday assured that the decision has been made, and that 23-year-old World Cup winner Mbappe has picked his home city club over the Spanish champions.

Reacting to a report by RMC Sport, Hidalgo wrote on Twitter, "Que bien!!!!", which translates as "How good!!!!", accompanied by red and blue hearts – the colours of PSG.

Assuming it is confirmed, the coup of PSG keeping Mbappe will be widely seen as a major fillip for the city of Paris, which will host the 2024 Olympic Games and Paralympics.

Kylian Mbappe has decided to stay at Paris Saint-Germain instead of joining Real Madrid, according to multiple reports.

Real Madrid were widely expected to sign Mbappe as a free agent following the expiration of his contract.

However, PSG were determined to keep the 23-year-old forward – who has been in sensational form this season – and they now seem to have won that battle.

Earlier this week the pendulum seemed to have swung firmly in Madrid's direction, with reports suggesting talks between Mbappe and PSG's Qatari owners had not swayed the striker, and that he wanted to join Los Blancos.

 

Mbappe's mother and agent confirmed on Friday that agreements had been reached with both clubs and a decision would be made over the weekend.

On Saturday, multiple major publications in France, including L'Equipe and Le Parisien, as well as ESPN, reported the former Monaco striker will be staying put.

No details were put forward as to the length of Mbappe's new contract, though it was suggested the France star could confirm his decision at the Parc des Princes following PSG's season-ending match against Metz on Saturday.

Mbappe is the club's second-highest goalscorer in their history, behind Edinson Cavani, having overtaken Zlatan Ibrahimovic when he netted for the 157th time in a PSG shirt earlier this season.

The news will come as a blow to Madrid, who face Liverpool in the Champions League final next week.

Los Blancos had also been linked with Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, but he has decided to join Manchester City, and it appears as though Madrid president Florentino Perez will be made to wait for his next Galactico.

Xavi has insisted Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland were never realistic targets for Barcelona, though he is confident he will have money to invest in the squad. 

Barca wrap up what has been a turbulent season against Villarreal on Sunday. 

The Blaugrana will finish second in LaLiga, a testament to the work done by Xavi since he replaced the much-maligned Ronald Koeman earlier in the campaign. 

However, they were knocked out of the Champions League in the group stage and fell to a defeat to eventual winners Eintracht Frankfurt in the Europa League quarter-finals, while there was no success in the Copa del Rey either. 

The 2021-22 season came on the back of Lionel Messi's shock departure, as Barca grappled with financial issues that saw the superstar leave for Paris Saint-Germain. 

Ferran Torres, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Adama Traore arrived to bolster the squad in January, though the latter two were on a free transfer and a loan respectively. 

Barca were linked with moves for Mbappe and Haaland. However, Mbappe is weighing up offers from Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid while Haaland is joining Manchester City, and Xavi has claimed there was never any chance of the Blaugrana having the financial capability to sign such players. 

 

"Ask me another question," he told a news conference on Saturday. "Mbappe, let him do what he wants, let him be happy.  

"We do not enter into this equation. I do not understand the question. 

"We cannot put a lot of money in. The economic situation is what it is. We did not enter the bidding of Haaland or Mbappe but that is what we have inherited. 

"There is no need to look back. You have to carry on. We have to compete and win titles again, we need to be competitive from now on. 

"The president transmits confidence to me and that we will be able to invest in our squad. We have made a plan and we will try to execute it.  

"The economic situation is serious but it is not my turn to talk about money. I'm here to talk about football. The economic problems are what they are, but let's talk about football." 

One player who has been heavily linked is Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski, who plundered 50 goals in all competitions in the 2021-22 campaign. 

 

No player across Europe's top five leagues has scored more goals than the Poland striker this season, but he has told Bayern he wishes to leave and will not be signing a new contract, with his deal ending in June 2023. 

However, LaLiga president Javier Tebas on Friday cast doubt on Barca's ability to be able to afford the 34-year-old. 

Asked about Lewandowski, Xavi said: "It is one of the possibilities that may come. He has said it himself.  

"There are some negotiations involved. It will not be easy with Bayern involved." 

One possible outgoing at Barca who could free up funds would be Frenkie de Jong. Both Manchester clubs are credited with an interest in the Netherlands international who joined from Ajax in 2019, though it has been reported the 25-year-old is in no rush to leave the Camp Nou. 

"Here we go back to talking about the economic situation," replied Xavi when pressed on the De Jong speculation.  

"He is, for me, a great player who is very capable and very dominating, he can help us a lot, but we go back to talking about money and I don't want to do that." 

Diego Simeone is targeting some new signings to reinvigorate an Atletico Madrid squad that "needs new energy". 

Atletico were disappointing in the defence of their LaLiga title and have lost nine games and conceded 42 goals – both their worst totals since the 2011-12 campaign, when they appointed Simeone midway through the season. 

A strong finish to this term, in which they went on a run of nine wins in 12 outings, enabled them to secure a top-four finish and a place in next season's Champions League. 

Simeone still has faith in the ability of his squad but feels it would be wise for Atleti to try to conduct some galvanising transfers. 

"We have a strong squad. In almost all areas, we have players who can give us what we want. We don't need many players, but we do need some to reinforce a team that needs new energy," said Simeone. 

The Atleti boss took responsibility for the team's shortcomings because he felt he did not do enough to solve the issues they faced. 

"I'm not happy with this season at all. After winning LaLiga, I always had the hope of being closer to defending it. It's a good lesson in life to keep learning," said Simeone. 

"The 4-4-2 and 5-3-2 that we were using – that also made me feel a bit dizzy. There is not much difference between the two but I could have done more than I did. 

"We have to refine things. We suffered with the absence of [Kieran] Trippier and were not able to solve it as I would have liked. [Marcos] Llorente played a whole year in a position where he couldn't show what he showed last season. 

"We suffered a lot with the central defenders – [Stefan] Savic and [Jose] Gimenez have had injuries and setbacks. They seem like excuses, but they are realities. I couldn't solve it in the best way. 

"There's always a lot of self-criticism and it's harsher than what the media says. We want to win. The club's goal is to get in the Champions League, but ours is to win. 

"It was an unusual season. We're not used to conceding so many goals and we lost many games. But with all the difficulties we qualified for the Champions League with two games to spare." 

Atleti will hope to finish the season by defeating Real Sociedad on Sunday and claiming back-to-back away LaLiga wins for the first time since June 2022. 

Los Colchoneros have won six of their 10 away games against Sociedad under Simeone, having won only six of the previous 28 such encounters.

Xavi hailed Barcelona for saving a season that "could have been worse" but wants improvements next term from the Blaugrana, who Ousmane Dembele could play his last game for on Sunday.

Blaugrana great Xavi was appointed in November as the successor to Ronald Koeman, with Barca languishing in ninth in LaLiga after an underwhelming start to their 2021-22 campaign.

However, Xavi has reinvigorated Barca as the Catalan giants have climbed up to second in the league, albeit 13 points behind champions Real Madrid with one game left to play.

Barca conclude their campaign at home to Villarreal, and with second place already secured Xavi praised the recovery his side has made, but urged them to improve to compete with Madrid next season.

"We have saved a situation that could have been worse," he told reporters at a pre-match news conference on Saturday. "We have gone from less to more. We have competed but it has not given us any reward. We have to win titles. 

"I don't give myself a grade because whatever is said will be criticised. We have improved a lot. I am the first to demand more from myself. From now on, we will look to improve further.

"We have to improve in every way – psychologically, physically, which we have already improved, and reinforce the squad with two players per position. And also tactically, so everyone understands our ideas."

The game against Villarreal could prove to be Dembele's last at Camp Nou as contract negotiations remain ongoing.

Bayern Munich and Chelsea are reported to be keen on the World Cup-winning winger, whose 11 LaLiga assists in 2022 is more than any other player has registered across Europe's top five leagues.

Blaugrana president Joan Laporta has reiterated his desire to keep the France international at Barca, and Xavi hailed Dembele for his efforts in the second half of the season.

"It could be the last. You have to be optimistic. He has played excellent games and when he has not been involved we have noticed," he said of the former Borussia Dortmund player.

Barca have won their last five games against Villarreal in LaLiga, and could register six wins in a row against them for the first time in the competition.

However, Xavi expects a tough task when his team host Unai Emery's side, who made it to the Champions League semi-finals this season, where they were defeated by Liverpool.

"The result will be important. I would like to see a team with good feelings, bravery and finish with the best feelings," he continued.

"Villarreal is the best team we have faced. They have a lot at stake, and are a difficult opponent. You have to have a personality that the fans come to enjoy. There will be chances and it will be a good show."

Barca have confirmed Ronald Araujo will return to the squad after recovering from a head injury that caused him to spend a night in hospital following the game against Celta Vigo on May 10.

Title races are the best, aren't they?

Months of games, so many ups and downs, goals scored and conceded, and yet it can all still come down to the finest margins in the closing minutes of the last day.

To paraphrase Homer Simpson, the winner is showered with praise; the loser is taunted and booed until my throat is sore.

With one matchday left, the title races in both Serie A and the Premier League are going to the final 90 minutes. Milan and Manchester City have their destinies in their own hands, but Inter and Liverpool are looking to respectively pounce on any stumble.

There is the potential for exceptional drama in Italy and England, but can the Nerazzurri and the Reds have much hope of pulling off the improbable and wrestling the respective title from their rivals?

Stats Perform has taken a look at some of the more dramatic title races from recent history that show anything is possible.

Every goal matters

The Eredivisie provided about as tense a finish as you could imagine in 2006-07, with PSV Eindhoven and Ajax unsurprisingly the main characters.

A strong title defence from Ronald Koeman's PSV began with 18 wins from 21 games, and just one defeat.

However, losing four and drawing four of their next 12 games coupled with Ajax winning five of six leading into the final day meant they were neck and neck on points heading into the last game.

Despite being behind on goal difference, a tremendous effort from PSV saw them pip their rivals after an emphatic 5-1 win over Vitesse, while Ajax could only muster a 2-0 victory over Willem II, losing the title by a single goal.

When goals made no difference in LaLiga

In the same season, Real Madrid made a disappointing start in LaLiga, drawing their first game 0-0 with Villarreal at home before going on to lose seven of their first 21 league matches.

After drawing four games in a row between mid-February and mid-March, title hopes seemed to be over for Fabio Capello's men, only for nine wins in 11 games to send them into the final day level on points with Barcelona.

Barca thrashed Gimnastic 5-1 away from home to do their bit, but Madrid eased to a 3-1 win against Real Mallorca at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The Blaugrana had a significantly better goal difference of +45 compared to Madrid's +26, but that mattered not as the tie-breaker came down to head-to-head record, which was in Los Blancos' favour having beaten Barca 2-0 at home and drawn 3-3 at Camp Nou.

"Agueroooooo!"

Following Sheikh Mansour's takeover of Manchester City in 2008, the club had grown year-on-year and by the 2011-12 season, felt they were ready to mount a challenge at the top of the Premier League.

Roberto Mancini's side started well enough, winning 11 of their first 12 games, but three defeats across December and January dented hopes, while two losses and two draws in a five-game period in March and April all but killed them.

That was until five wins in a row coincided with Manchester United losing to Wigan Athletic and dramatically drawing 4-4 with Everton at Old Trafford.

City beating United on matchday 36 swung things in the Sky Blues' favour, and they went into the last day needing only a win against lowly QPR to seal it.

In typical fashion, they made it hard work for themselves, finding themselves 2-1 down heading towards the 90th minute. United had won 1-0 at Sunderland, which meant City needed two goals or they would have lost the title in agonising fashion.

An Edin Dzeko header made it 2-2, before Mario Balotelli slid in Sergio Aguero for one of the most famous goals in English football history, giving City their first top-flight title since 1969.

 

The ultimate last day head-to-head

It was like something out of a Hollywood film. All the previous nine LaLiga titles had been won by Clasico giants Barcelona and Real Madrid, but in 2013-14, Atletico Madrid believed they could spoil the party.

Barca were the pacesetters, winning 13 of their first 14 games, while Real Madrid were struggling after losing to both Atletico and Barca.

Diego Simeone led his team to an incredible 16 wins from their first 18 games, but a 0-0 draw with Barca made it look like it would be the tightest of run-ins.

Indeed it was, with Real coming back to the party after an 18-match unbeaten run, though back-to-back defeats to Barca and Sevilla stopped them in their tracks.

Gerardo Martino's Barca were wobbling too, losing three out of seven games between February and March, and then drawing with Getafe and Elche to give Atletico their chance on the final day.

As if it could not have been more dramatic, Atletico went into the last game three points clear, but needing a point to clinch the title, away at Barcelona.

Alexis Sanchez opened the scoring for the Blaugrana, but Diego Godin's header handed the crown to Atletico.

When six were not on the beach

You may not be as familiar with this final day, but it stands as one of the most remarkable in the history of the game.

Never mind two or three, there were six clubs that could still claim the Ligue 2 title going into the final round of matches in 2016-17.

Strasbourg, Amiens, Troyes, Lens, Brest and Nimes all in with a shout with one game remaining, all separated by three points at most.

Technically, the drama was not really with the winner of the title, but the other automatic promotion spot that was up for grabs, with Strasbourg able to hold on to top spot following a nervy 2-1 win against Bourg-Peronnas, but it was a 96th-minute strike from Emmanuel Bourgaud sealing a 2-1 win at Stade Reims for Amiens that provided unbelievable drama, taking the aptly named Unicorns from sixth to second.

I did not think I would be advising Inter and Liverpool to go into their games with an "Amiens mindset", but there we are.

Carlo Ancelotti revealed David Alaba will "100 per cent" feature for Real Madrid in the Champions League final next weekend. 

Alaba has been dealing with a hamstring injury sustained in the semi-final first leg against Manchester City last month and did not feature in Madrid's last LaLiga game of the season against Real Betis on Friday. 

Los Blancos came through the match unscathed with a 0-0 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu and Ancelotti confirmed afterwards that the Austria defender will play against Liverpool at the Stade de France on Saturday week. 

"Alaba is going to play the final but it wasn't necessary to take risks," Ancelotti told Movistar+. 

"He's going to play, 100 per cent. He hasn't played since April 26, it's true, but not only physical condition is taken into account for the match. Skill and experience are too." 

The Italian coach expects to have Gareth Bale available for one more time before his contract expires at the end of the season. 

Bale missed out on a place in the squad to face Betis having only recently stepped up his recovery from a back issue. 

"He wanted to say goodbye and play if he was able. Bale has one last chance because he will be fine for the final," Ancelotti added. 

Marcelo was sent on as a second-half substitute for what is anticipated to be his final outing at the Bernabeu, but Ancelotti hinted that the Brazilian could yet extend his stay. 

"He hasn't said goodbye yet, he's still our captain and will be in Paris. If he does say goodbye in the end, of the best full-backs in the world will leave. I think he's talking to the club, I don't know," said the Madrid boss. 

Real Madrid closed out their title-winning LaLiga campaign with a low-key 0-0 draw against Real Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu on Friday. 

Neither team had anything to play for and that was clear from the outset, with the match played at a sedate tempo as Madrid looked to avoid overexerting themselves ahead of next weekend's Champions League final against Liverpool. 

Carlo Ancelotti named a strong line-up for the match but Los Blancos remain winless and goalless in five home league games against Betis. 

Marcelo and Isco were sent on for their final appearances at the Bernabeu but it was not to be a triumphant farewell as Betis held on for a draw. 

Toni Kroos fired wide after Karim Benzema's shot was blocked and Willian Jose narrowly missed the target from 20 yards after an open start to the half. 

Decent openings were few and far between, but Casemiro rifled a low drive just outside the post on the stroke of half-time after charging through the middle. 

Benzema volleyed straight at Rui Silva seven minutes after the restart and Rodrygo sent his follow-up wide under pressure from Marc Bartra. 

Joaquin came off the bench in the 74th minute for his 600th LaLiga appearance, joining Andoni Zubizarreta (622) as the only players to reach the milestone. 

The 40-year-old winger was unable to mark the occasion with a goal as he lifted an effort from the edge of the six-yard box over with three minutes remaining, but the point was enough for Betis to clinch fifth place.

Barcelona are not in a position to finance a deal for Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski, according to LaLiga president Javier Tebas.

Lewandowski last week confirmed that he has informed Bayern he will not be extending his contract beyond the end of next season.

The Poland international hinted he is interested in a move away from the Allianz Arena in the upcoming transfer window, rather than departing as a free agent in a year's time.

Barca are the favourites to land Europe's most prolific striker, with head coach Xavi insisting age would not be a barrier when it comes to his rebuild project.

However, uncertainty lingers over whether Barca have the financial clout to make a move as they attempt to come through an economic crisis that has hit Camp Nou hard.

And unless certain players, such as midfielder Frenkie de Jong, are sold to bring in additional funds, Tebas does not see the Lewandowski transfer being a possibility.

"The numbers are easy: if you have more than €500million losses from the past two years, you have to recover money," Tebas is quoted as saying by Spanish publication Sport.

"Lewandowski has one year left at Bayern. Between what he wants to earn and what Bayern want to take... as of today I don't see him at Barcelona. Other things must happen.

"Selling players could be enough, depending on how much they raise and what Lewandowski costs. It could be €100m plus that is saved.

"De Jong could give them that possibility, but I don't know if they are even planning to sell. To date they have not sold him."

 

Lewandowski has scored 50 goals in 46 games for Bayern in all competitions this season, making him the top scorer among players from Europe's top five leagues.

Next on that list is Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema with 44, followed by Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe with 36 in 45 matches.

Mbappe had been widely expected to join Benzema at Madrid next season, but reports on Friday suggested the forward might decide to stay at PSG.

However, Tebas expects the France international to end up at the Santiago Bernabeu in the coming weeks.

"I think he'll be at Real Madrid, though one day he is white and another day he is black – he changes," Tebas said. "But yes, I think [he'll sign for Madrid].

”I have seen these twists and turns so many times – it's not unexpected, because there are always twists. 

"The feeling I have is that if he had wanted to renew he would have already done so, but I could be wrong."

Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo says Antoine Griezmann is among the top three or four players in Europe and will remain with the Spanish club beyond this season.

Griezmann sealed a return to Atletico from Barcelona last August on an initial loan with an option to buy after spending just two years at Camp Nou.

He has struggled to recapture his best form with Atleti, however, having scored just eight goals in 35 appearances in all competitions.

Indeed, the France international is on a 14-game run without finding the net in LaLiga, which is one short of his longest goal drought in the competition.

Griezmann's 13 direct goal involvements in 2021-22 is the fourth most among Atletico players, meanwhile, behind Luis Suarez, Joao Felix (both 15) and Angel Correa (18).

But contrary to suggestions in the Spanish press that Atleti are reluctant to purchase the 31-year-old outright, Cerezo has made clear a deal is being worked on.

"Griezmann is our player. He has a contract with Atletico Madrid and will stay here at Atletico Madrid," he said at an event on Friday, as reported by AS.

"In my opinion, Antoine is among three or four best players in Europe."

 

Atletico last week announced that Suarez will depart Wanda Metropolitano at the end of the campaign.

They still have Alvaro Morata on their books, though, with the Spain international's two-year loan at Juventus coming to an end after Saturday's Serie A clash with Fiorentina.

Unlike with Griezmann, Cerezo was less assertive when it came to discussing Morata's future in the Spanish capital.

"The truth is that I don't know what will happen to him," he said. "He's our player, but I don't know what will happen. I don't know if Juve will keep him or not. We don't know."

Atleti have conceded 42 goals in 37 LaLiga games this term, which is their worst record in a single campaign since 2011-12 when Diego Simeone took over midway through.

Jan Oblak in particular has endured a difficult campaign, though Cerezo rejected suggestions that the goalkeeper could move on in the upcoming transfer window.

"There are always rumours about everything," he said. "Jan is a goalkeeper for Atletico de Madrid, and he has a contract. He may yet renew for another 10 years."

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti suggested Italy are falling behind in international football due to an inability to find a new generation of footballers and a failing Serie A system.

Italy lifted the Euro 2020 title last July with a penalty shoot-out victory over England in the final, the Azzurri's first European Championship since 1968, but followed that up with failure to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar.

A play-off defeat to North Macedonia in March condemned Italy to a second successive absence from the global competition, having also missed out on qualification for Russia 2018.

Roberto Mancini and the Italian football system were met with widespread criticism for their reluctance to utilise younger players, instead relying on the experience of the likes of Giorgio Chiellini and Ciro Immobile.

There were also suggestions the problems were more deep-rooted in the Italian game, with a lack of opportunities granted for homegrown talents in Serie A that failed to establish a clear path to the national team.

Ancelotti, who featured for Italy as a player and has managed five Italian clubs, echoed those sentiments as he reflected on the improvements needed in his home country.

"I believe that Italian football must seek an improvement in the spectacle it offers," Ancelotti said at a forum to discuss Italian football, as quoted by Tuttomercatoweb. "It is not attractive for several reasons.

"There is the technical aspect, in the sense that there is a lack of figures to look up to in a generation of footballers that has had difficulty producing great champions after the 2006 World Cup, where there were the likes of [Francesco] Totti, [Alessandro] Del Piero, [Andrea] Pirlo, [Gennaro] Gattuso.

"Italy struggled to find a generation of new talents. It is true that the unexpected success at the European Championships arrived, but the individual quality of Italian players at the moment is not that of 15 years ago."

As for how Italy can improve, Ancelotti pointed towards the development opportunities in Serie A as a vital factor.

"In my opinion, right now young people are struggling to find chances in Serie A," he added. "Especially with the new rules, which benefit foreign players and do not allow Italians the time they need.

"In 2019 there was a youth final between Italy and Portugal: the Portuguese players included the likes of [Rafael] Leao, now they play in the top Portuguese or English leagues.

"If you look at the squad, the Italian players are much less active."

Italy will look to get back on track when they face South American champions Argentina in a match billed 'Finalissima' at Wembley on June 1.

Mauricio Pochettino has appealed to Kylian Mbappe to stay at Paris Saint-Germain and resist the temptation of Real Madrid, as a decision looms.

An announcement is thought to be imminent and the PSG head coach said it was important that it comes directly from Mbappe, whose contract expires at the end of June.

PSG, who hold a 15-point lead at the top of Ligue 1, face Metz on Saturday evening in their final game of the season.

Title celebrations are due to follow that game but could be overshadowed by news from Mbappe, who said he would confirm his intentions before the coming international break. Reports on Friday suggested clarity would come this weekend, and Pochettino hopes Mbappe decides to stay "for many more years".

It has been reported PSG have offered him a staggering financial package to remain with the French champions, but there remains little consensus on what Mbappe's decision will be.

"I don't know what it is. I don't walk to talk about it," Pochettino told a news conference on Friday. "I don't know what his decision is.

"It's a personal decision, for Kylian Mbappe linked with the club. There's a lot of information, a lot of rumours. We always respect the club and Kylian Mbappe's position. The club and the player have to speak about such topics.

"I do get information as the coach, but I'm not the right person to make a statement which isn't my responsibility. In this case, that lies with the player."

Pochettino said he had spoken to sporting director Leonardo "about many topics" and said he had "some information about what is happening" regarding player movement.

But he stressed that did not amount to being sure about what Mbappe's future would hold.

"As for what I want, I want Kylian Mbappe to be here for many years at Paris Saint-Germain," Pochettino said. "I don't know the information, I don't know what is going to happen. I am the coach of PSG and I would like him to stay here for many more years."

France striker Mbappe has been strongly linked with Madrid over the past year, with the Spanish giants making an attempt to sign him last August that was repelled by PSG.

The 23-year-old scored home and away against Madrid in the Champions League as PSG took a 2-0 aggregate lead in their last-16 tie, only for Karim Benzema's hat-trick in the final half-hour of the second leg on March 9 to guide Carlo Ancelotti's side to a comeback victory.

With 168 goals and 77 assists in 216 games for PSG, since arriving from Monaco five years ago, reigning Ligue 1 player of the season Mbappe would be sorely missed in Paris.

Pochettino's own future at PSG has been widely considered in doubt, despite delivering a landslide Ligue 1 title success.

Given the remarkable resources at his disposal, Pochettino had been expected by many to carry PSG deeper into the Champions League knockout rounds. He was linked with Manchester United recently, before Erik ten Hag was appointed boss of the Red Devils, and has also been touted in media reports as a possible candidate to coach Athletic Bilbao next season.

PSG's owners have not been shy in moving on coaches who have not met their high expectations in the past.

However, Pochettino declared he was keen to carry on working in Paris, saying on Friday: "I don't see any reason why I won't be here next season. I think the best is yet to come, hopefully.

"Everyone at Paris Saint-Germain wants to win the Champions League. That has become an obsession for the club. I hope we can achieve that."

Tick-tock, tick-tock. It appears time will finally run out on Sunday and the Kylian Mbappe transfer saga will finally be at its end.

Paris Saint-Germain have experienced another monumental blow this season with another cruel elimination in the Champions League and Real Madrid are waiting in the wings.

According to reports, the 23-year-old will finally announce his decision on Sunday.

TOP STORY – MBAPPE TO CONFIRM DECISION ON SUNDAY  

Kylian Mbappe will announce whether he will play for Paris Saint-Germain or Real Madrid on Sunday, according to L'Equipe.

The Parisian has never hidden his admiration for LeBron James and appears set to mimic his 'The Decision' announcement from 2010.

What is for certain according to reports, Mbappe is intent on announcing the decision before the France national team meets up for camp in Clairefontaine on May 28.

While it has been recently reported a move to Real Madrid seems likelier, talks are still ongoing according to the L'Equipe report, with PSG aiming to scupper a potential move at the last minute.

ROUND-UP

– Meanwhile, France team-mate and Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba had agreed personal terms with Manchester City, according to the Times, but backed out in fear of fan backlash and now appears likely to move abroad.

– Along with Pogba, Juventus are also hoping to further bolster their midfield stocks and sign Chelsea midfielder Jorginho, the Gazzetta dello Sport reports.

– Diario AS is reporting Paulo Dybala has ruled out a move to Tottenham once his contract with Juve expires at the end of the season.

– Kalidou Koulibaly has emerged as a target for Barcelona, who would be willing to add Miralem Pjanic as part of a package deal for Napoli, per Fichajes.

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