How will Mbappe fit in Real Madrid’s attack?

Jude Bellingham slipped in Vinicius Jr to score and Real Madrid’s key forward pair had done it. A Champions League trophy delivered without a recognised, world-class No 9 in the team.

All the talk before, during and after Saturday’s win over Borussia Dortmund at Wembley surrounded how Carlo Ancelotti has masterminded another Real success having lost Karim Benzema last summer to Saudi Arabia. Now the talk is about how another French forward can take them to another level.

Kylian Mbappe will arrive at Real Madrid having snubbed the Spanish giants three times. Once after a trial with Real’s U12 team, then twice to favour PSG in 2017 and 2022. Now he will arrive at the Bernabeu when his new side need him most.

“The only thing we’re missing is that clinical nine,” said Bellingham after Saturday’s Champions League final.

“If he was to come and give us that, we would be in a really great place to go and take us to another level. One of the best players in the world!”

Real will now have their world-class No 9 – arguably one of the best out there. The problem is, what happens to players like Vinicius and Bellingham following their heroics not just at Wembley, but all through the season?

Ancelotti reacted to the loss of Benzema by not directly replacing him, instead adopting a 4-3-1-2 formation, using Vinicius and Rodrygo as ‘split forwards’ who adopt wide areas – allowing new signing Bellingham to venture in a free role behind them at the tip of a midfield diamond.

It is a front three that will not be broken up in terms of transfer sales. Vinicius and Bellingham – with 24 and 23 goals respectively this season – were the two most important players for Real this season. Rodrygo, despite rumours linking him with a move, has vowed to stay in the Spanish capital next season.

But Mbappe is now set to be the jewel in Real’s shining crown, following his 256 goals in 308 games in the French capital. Yet how does PSG’s old No 7 become Real Madrid’s main man, and not take anything away from current Real No 7 Vinicius, who is arguably one of the best players in the world?

An issue could arise given Mbappe and Vinicius both played in the same position this season – and the Brazilian is not going to budge.

“Vinicius has really made the left-hand side his. That is his best position,” Spanish football journalist Semra Hunter told Sky Sports News.

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Mbappe and Vinicius’ heatmap in the Champions League this season

“Let’s work under the premise that Ancelotti is going to stick with a 4-4-2 next season, with Jude Bellingham at the top of the midfield diamond.

“That means Vinicius and Mbappe can start in a two-pronged attack, like what Vinicius and Rodrygo have been doing this season.”

Replacing Rodrygo will not be an easy decision for Ancelotti, given the Brazilian forward’s key role in Real’s recent Champions League successes.

The Italian manager would be omitting the player who scored in both legs of this season’s quarter-final victory over Manchester City, one that all but made the Champions League Real’s to lose. And will Mbappe even accept Rodrygo’s current role as ‘right forward’ to accommodate Vinicius?

There is the argument that Rodrygo barely plays on the right wing, despite being the ‘right forward’. Two seasons ago, Ancelotti said the 23-year-old has “so much potential as a centre forward or a second striker”, implying his role in Real’s 4-3-1-2 is as central as it looks – making it perfect for Mbappe, who always preferred the No 9 role to a wide one at PSG.

Or could all four – Mbappe, Vinicius, Rodrygo and Bellingham – play together in an ultra-attacking Ancelotti plan? He adopted a 4-3-3 formation at Real Madrid for years before Benzema’s departure, so it would not be an alien move.

“Rodrygo is more tactically flexible – he can play on the right, left or as a No 10,” added Hunter.

“He could play 4-3-3, with Mbappe in the middle and Vinicius and Rodrygo on the wings. But that means he would have to sacrifice a midfielder and they are so stacked in that area. I don’t see that happening too often.”

Mbappe is not the only new arrival at Real this summer, with Brazilian starlet Endrick also putting another dazzling option among the ranks. Given the 17-year-old’s heroics to date for club and country, do not be surprised if he has something to say in this debate.

But the teenager will develop in his own time while the world watches Mbappe. He is the man Real Madrid are bringing in to dominate Europe.

And if they are winning Champions League titles without him, what are the Spanish giants going to achieve with him?

Real Madrid sign Mbappe

Real Madrid have announced the signing of Kylian Mbappe on a free transfer after the France captain left Paris Saint-Germain.

The 25-year-old, who is PSG’s record goalscorer with 256 goals in 308 appearances, has signed a five-year contract at the Bernabeu worth €15m (£12.8m) a year after tax.

He will receive a signing-on bonus of just over £85m from Real, who will pay the fee in instalments over the duration of his contract.

The 2018 World Cup winner joins just two days after Carlo Ancelotti’s side won their 15th Champions League title to clinch the double, having also been crowned LaLiga champions.

A one-line statement from the European champions announcing Mbappe’s arrival said: “Real Madrid CF and Kylian Mbappe have reached an agreement whereby he will be a Real Madrid player for the next five seasons.”

Mbappe then posted on social media with pictures of himself as a kid wearing a Real Madrid kit to express his joy at the move.

He said: “A dream come true. So happy and proud to join the club of my dreams, Real Madrid.

“Nobody can understand how excited I am right now. Can’t wait to see you, Madridistas, and thanks for your unbelievable support. Hala Madrid!”

The Spanish giants have been long-term admirers of Mbappe and tried to sign him in 2022, but the forward committed to a new two-year deal at the Parc des Princes.

Kylian Mbappe stats - June 3rd, 2024

But Mbappe refused to activate a one-year extension in his PSG contract which allowed him to move for nothing this summer, just six years after costing the French club £166m from Monaco.

Mbappe’s departure, which he announced last month, has freed up at least €220m (£187.5m) of gross cost to PSG.

The view from Spain: Mbappe to Real was inevitable

Spanish football journalist Semra Hunter:

“There’s a bit of a collective sigh of relief that finally it’s over. They are finally coming together and hopefully it will be a harmonious union between Mbappe and Real Madrid.

“This saga has rumbled on for so long now that every single summer it was all about: ‘Here we go again, is this finally the summer he is going to come?’

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Kylian Mbappe appeared to tell French president Emmanuel Macron that his move to Real Madrid was imminent

“Everybody knew it was inevitable that Mbappe was coming to Real Madrid. It was just a matter of when.

“Real Madrid have been trying for so many years, it even began when he was 11 years old when he went to the club for a trial with the U12s side. He decided not to stay because his parents felt he was better off staying in France to grow and develop.

“In 2017, that was the real first time they came in for him when he was at Monaco. It didn’t work out as PSG came in and hijacked the deal. It’s been on and off again for the last seven years. It really is happening this time.

“But there is also a little bit of apprehension about this deal because it was such a big blow in 2022, when Real really thought he was coming, but he decided to snub them and stay in Paris.

“It left a lot of Madridistas very broken-hearted, disappointed and angry – even people at the club as well.”

‘Real Madrid’s dominance may not be ending soon’

French football journalist Jonathan Johnson speaking to Sky Sports News:

“I don’t think it gets much better for Real Madrid at this moment in time. LaLiga champions, Champions League winners for a record 15th time and now just a casual Monday flex of being able to announce the signing of Kylian Mbappe. A really big few days for the Spanish giants.

“It’s quite a terrifying prospect for the rest of Europe and clubs who want to challenge the supremacy of Los Blancos. Certainly from a French point of view, it was coming for some time. There had to be a conclusion to this saga, it had dragged on when people thought it couldn’t drag on any more.

“There was disappointment at PSG initially when Mbappe revealed he wanted to move to Real Madrid. But at the same time, there is a recognition that it was the best thing for the player, potentially for the club and even the league as well. Ligue 1 can step out of Mbappe’s shadow and strike out on its own. We will see what the next couple of years have in store.

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PSG forward Kylian Mbappe has released an announcement video where the Frenchman revealed he’ll be leaving the club in the summer

“Mbappe, generally speaking, leaves France with doing as much as he could do in the club game. Not just at PSG, it was at Monaco where he burst onto the scene and enjoyed a good Champions League run with them. What he’s achieved for himself, at PSG, the records he’s broken, it’s difficult for anyone to live up to. There are people who see him going and give him their blessing, as well as those who are disappointed with how it ended, especially the PSG leadership.

“In terms of the name, this is up there in terms of impact alongside Zinedine Zidane, who won the Ballon d’Or before joining Real. Mbappe hasn’t done that so he’s going there to win that. While this is a free transfer, in terms of there being no direct transfer fee, there is a big financial aspect of what he will be paid. It has the potential to pay off for Real Madrid, there is plenty for him to sink his teeth into. It’s the place to be in club football right now.

“It’s very impressive what they have done this season, especially with the injuries they’ve had – Courtois, Militao, Alaba. To have those guys coming back to the squad, it will be like new signings. Arda Guler was out for a large chunk of the campaign. Then there’s Endrick on top of Mbappe, that’s six new signings.

“There is the tearful farewell of Toni Kroos, but Luka Modric is staying on so it keeps the technical brilliance and the experience in midfield. But it is frightening that Real Madrid’s dominance over the last five to ten years might not be ending. It might be warming up with the arrival of Mbappe.”

Where will Mbappe fit in the Real Madrid team?

Spanish football journalist Semra Hunter:

“Ultimately it will depend on what Carlo Ancelotti wants to do from a tactical point of view.

“Yes, there is a pecking order of sorts but of course you are going to go with the best players that you have available.

“Let’s work under the premise that Ancelotti is going to stick with a 4-4-2 next season, with Jude Bellingham at the top of the midfield diamond, though really Bellingham can do whatever he wants on the pitch.

“That means Vinicius and Mbappe can start in a two-pronged attack, like what Vinicius and Rodrygo have been doing this season.

“Vinicius has really made the left-hand side his. That is his best position. Rodrygo is more tactically flexible – he can play on the right, left or as a No 10.

“So there are lots of options. He could play 4-3-3, with Mbappe in the middle and Vinicius and Rodrygo on the wings. But that means he would have to sacrifice a midfielder and they are so stacked in that area. I don’t see that happening too often.”

The 2024 summer transfer window in the Premier League officially opens on Friday June 14 – the same day that Euro 2024 starts.

The window will close on August 30 at 11pm UK time.

The Premier League has brought forward Deadline Day to link up with the other major leagues in Europe. The closing dates were set following discussions with the leagues in England, Germany, Italy, Spain and France.

Real Madrid to announce Mbappe this week as he receives £85m bonus

Kylian Mbappe is expected to be announced by Real Madrid this week and receive a signing-on bonus of just over £85m (€100m).

The 25-year-old, who scored 256 goals in 308 appearances for PSG, is set to sign a five-year contract at the Santiago Bernabeu worth (£12.8m) (€15m) a year after tax.

Real will pay the signing-on bonus in installments throughout his time at the club.

Real Madrid have been long-term admirers of Mbappe, having tried to sign him in 2022, but the French forward committed to a new two-year deal at the Parc des Princes, which has now expired.

Mbappe refused to activate a one-year extension in his PSG contract, which has allowed him to move for nothing, just six years after costing the French club £166m.

The World Cup winner has taken a pay cut to move to the Santiago Bernabeu. Mbappe was on €75m (£63.9m) gross in the final year of his PSG contract, and was also getting a €30m-a-year (£25.6m) signing-on bonus.

Mbappe’s departure has freed up at least €220m (£187.5m) of gross cost to PSG.

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PSG forward Kylian Mbappe has released an announcement video where the Frenchman revealed he’ll be leaving the club in the summer

The view from Spain: Mbappe to Real was inevitable

Spanish football journalist Semra Hunter to Sky Sports News:

“There’s a bit of a collective sigh of relief that finally it’s over. They are finally coming together and hopefully it will be a harmonious union between Mbappe and Real Madrid.

“This saga has rumbled on for so long now that every single summer it was all about: ‘Here we go again, is this finally the summer he is going to come?’

“Everybody knew it was inevitable that Mbappe was coming to Real Madrid. It was just a matter of when.

“Real Madrid have been trying for so many years, it even began when he was 11 years old when he went to the club for a trial with the Under-12s side. He decided not to stay because his parents felt he was better off staying in France to grow and develop.

“In 2017, that was the real first time they came in for him when he was at Monaco. It didn’t work out as PSG came in and hijacked the deal. It’s been on and off again for the last seven years. It really is happening this time.

“But there is also a little bit of apprehension about this deal because it was such a big blow in 2022 when Real really thought he was coming but he decided to snub them and stay in Paris. It left a lot of Madridistas very broken-hearted disappointed and angry – even people at the club as well.”

Where will Mbappe fit in the Real Madrid team?

Spanish football journalist Semra Hunter to Sky Sports News:

“Ultimately it will depend on what Carlo Ancelotti wants to do from a tactical point of view.

“Yes, there is a pecking order of sorts but of course you are going to go with the best players that you have available too.

“Let’s work under the premise that Ancelotti is going to stick with a 4-4-2 next season, with Jude Bellingham at the top of the midfield diamond, though really Bellingham can do whatever he wants on the pitch.

“That means Vinicius and Mbappe can start in a two-pronged attack, like what Vinicius and Rodrygo have been doing this season. Vinicius has really made the left hand side his. That is his best position. Rodrygo is more tactically flexible – he can play on the right, left or as a No 10.

“So there are lots of options. He could play 4-3-3 with Mbappe in the middle with Vinicius and Rodrygo on the wings. But that means he would have to sacrifice a midfielder and they are so stacked in that area, I don’t see that happening too often.”

The 2024 summer transfer window in the Premier League officially opens on Friday June 14 – the same day that Euro 2024 starts.

The window will close on August 30 at 11pm UK time.

The Premier League has brought forward Deadline Day to link up with the other major leagues in Europe. The closing dates were set following discussions with the leagues in England, Germany, Italy, Spain and France.

Real crowned European kings for 15th time

Real Madrid were crowned champions of Europe for a 15th time at Wembley, with second-half goals from Dani Carvajal and Vinicius Jr seeing off a brave Borussia Dortmund for a 2-0 Champions League final victory.

The German side hit a post and created two more big chances in the first half as they threatened a big upset but Real have a unique relationship with this competition and, with an improved display after the interval, they finally came to life.

Toni Kroos – in his final game for the club – set up the opener with a corner for Carvajal to head home with 16 minutes to play, before England’s Jude Bellingham rolled in Vinicius Jr to punish a stretched Dortmund side soon after.

Niclas Fullkrug, who had struck the inside of an upright earlier in the game when Dortmund were breaking through the Real backline at will, thought he’d created a big finish with a powerful header but was flagged offside and Dortmund’s hopes of an unlikely comeback all but ended there.

Real, the Kings of Europe, were crowned again.

For the first time, it is with an unbeaten European campaign. They have needed four comebacks along the way, including their last-gasp turnaround against Bayern Munich in the semi-finals and a penalty shootout victory over last season’s winners Manchester City in the quarter-finals, but the Spanish champions wouldn’t be denied.

For Carvajal, Kroos and team-mates Nacho and Luka Modric it is a remarkable sixth Champions League win with Real Madrid. Boss Carlo Ancelotti has now won the coveted prize five times as a head coach. For Bellingham, the first of more to come?

Bellingham: The best night of my life!

Jude Bellingham speaking to TNT Sports:

“I’ve always dreamt of playing in these games. You go through life with people telling you that you can’t do things. Days like this remind you. It gets hard sometimes and you wonder whether it’s worth it but nights like this make you realise.

“I was alright until I saw my mum and dad. Nights like where they could have been at home by 7 o’clock but they’re out until 12 on trips to take me to football. And my little brother who I’m trying to be a role model for. The best night of my life.”

Real’s remarkable Champions League numbers

  • 15 European Cup/Champions League wins – more than twice as many as next-best AC Milan (seven)
  • 5 Champions League wins for Carlo Ancelotti – more than any other manager
  • 6 Champions League wins with Real Madrid for Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Dani Carvajal and Nacho

How Real became champions again

The odds were always stacked against Dortmund. They had beaten them against Atletico Madrid and Paris St-Germain on the way to the final but missed moments in the first half came back to cost them here. Those chances may well have played on their minds as they stood in front of their supporters who had urged them on so loudly throughout. In the end it was Wembley heartache again, just as in their 2013 final defeat to Bayern Munich.

A series of pitch invaders may have disrupted the start to the match but Dortmund were quickly up to speed, picking passes in behind the Real backline for Julian Brandt to skew beyond the far post and Karim Adeyemi to run the ball too far wide of Thibaut Courtois.

Team news

  • Real Madrid were unchanged from their final La Liga game of the season, with Thibaut Courtois in goal, Toni Kroos starting his final game for the club and Luka Modric among the subs.
  • Marco Reus dropped to the bench for his final game as a Dortmund player, with Julian Brandt stepping into midfield. On-loan Man Utd man Jadon Sancho started on the wing for the German side.

Real couldn’t plug the gaps and Chelsea loanee Ian Maatsen, who was celebrating winning the Championship with Burnley this time last year, rolled in Fullkrug to slide a shot against the inside of the post midway through the half.

The big striker was agonisingly close again soon after, this time unable to stretch enough to angle in his header from Adeyemi’s parried shot. The left winger was proving too hot to handle. Jadon Sancho on the other side was enjoying success, too. Even Marcel Sabitzer was able to step forwards from midfield and force Courtois to save as Dortmund finished the half on top.

Shot map comparison for the Champions League final between Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid
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Shot map comparison for the Champions League final between Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid

Real Madrid’s best moment in that first 45 had been a speculative effort from the edge of the box from Vinicius Jr. They finally made Gregor Kobel work through a Kroos free-kick from an angle before Carvajal went close from the follow-up corner. The right-back’s eyes lit up again moments later when his shot at the back post was deflected kindly for the keeper.

Real were finally getting into gear. Courtois had to push away a Fullkrug header but the action was now around the Dortmund goalmouth. Bellingham was inches away from flicking in Vinicius Jr’s lofted cross, with the Brazilian laughing to himself after some trickery won Real a corner. It was the set-piece that brought the breakthrough and Carvajal’s second Champions League goal nine years on from his first. A good time to add to his tally.

Vinicius Junior doubled Real Madrid's lead at Wembley
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Vinicius Junior doubled Real Madrid’s lead at Wembley

Bellingham again went close with a deflected shot from inside the box as Real suddenly oozed confidence. Kobel had to save from Kroos and then Eduardo Camavinga and then Nacho. He couldn’t stop Vinicius Jr’s strike though – a clinical finish to seal it after Bellingham found him in space.

Fullkrug thought he had grabbed his side a lifeline but there was no stopping Real’s procession to the throne once more.

When does the 2024/25 Premier League season start?

The 2023/24 season has reached its conclusion but planning has already started for the new campaign.

Several Premier League sides have confirmed pre-season friendlies ahead of the 2024/25 term, which kicks off on the weekend of August 17/18, while others have given fresh kits an early airing.

The Premier League fixtures – all 380 of them – will be released at 9am on Tuesday, June 18, with full coverage on Sky Sports News and Sky Sports’ digital platforms.

The new EFL season starts on the weekend of August 10/11 and marks the launch of Sky Sports+, giving more choice to sports fans via live streams and a new dedicated channel, at no extra cost. In a broadcasting first, every EFL game across all three divisions – the Championship, League One and League Two – will be streamed live on the opening weekend.

Stand by for another busy summer in the transfer window – clubs can do business from June 14 until August 30 and the Sky Sports Transfer Centre will keep you posted with all the latest news and rumours.

Euro 2024 is just weeks away, too. Keep track of England’s Euro fixtures, check out the full tournament schedule in Germany and join us on skysports.com or the Sky Sports app to follow every game with our live match blogs.