Unai Emery: Mbappe came for sporting reasons, not money

Under seemingly never ending pressure and constantly surrounded by speculation about his future, Unai Emery (Hondarribia, 1971) showed no sign of concern as he sat down for an interview.Sitting pretty at the top of Ligue 1, Champions League success is what is really being demanded by those in charge in Paris.Speaking exclusively to MARCA, he discussed his time at Paris Saint-Germain and the upcoming clash with reigning Champions League winners Real Madrid.Do you agree with what Kylian Mbappe said in January (and what was on the front page of MARCA) , “we are going to Madrid to send a message to the world of football”?”Yes, we are going to be the focus of the world that day. This game will be, calmly, a possible final. The message is that we believe in ourselves, we are prepared to play games like this. It’s making us excited to play against Madrid, winner of three of the last four Champions Leagues. It’s a challenge and naturally I’m facing up to it.”It will be a knock out tie of great players, but especially in midfield. Marco Verratti for example. Have you made him the ‘modern Xavi’ as you once said?”Marco has personality and we want to improve him, but we won’t go against nature. He will never be a player who creates a lot of goals but he will be a box to box player who gives the last or penultimate pass to find play in tight spaces. He’s a player with a lot of heart, he needs to keep maturing at a mental level to evolve his play. He’s getting closer to the box but he’ll never be a midfielder who scores a lot.”How will face a Real Madrid with your unbeatable front three and a midfield with players so offensive like Julian Draxler and Angel Di Maria?”After Ibrahimovic left, the team tried to evolve. I have always listened to president Florentino Perez and his phrase that to be the best team you have to sign the best player in the world. It’s a good example for clubs with that economic capacity. Real Madrid did it, for example with [Luis] Figo, when I read that day that Figo was going to Madrid in MARCA by paying the release clause, I couldn’t believe it, it was incredible. In Spain I have always lived through that with Madrid: the signing of Zidane, Cristiano [Ronaldo], James [Rodriguez], and Barcelona too, paying Rivaldo’s release clause, for example.”All of that economic power we are seeing now in France and I think that it’s positive for the country, who should be thankful to the investment from Qatar which makes the best players come here. The last step for the president Nasser Al Khelaifi was to bring one of the three best players in the world, Neymar. This team has improved offensively with these signings, and it’s down to my ability to put all these talents in order and find a balance. It’s an attractive challenge.”How will you play? You are one of the Spaniards who has succeeded abroad although you don’t use the ‘tikitaka’ style.”‘Tikitaka’ is a concept created by journalists. PSG is one of the European teams who make the most passes in a game, between 700 and 800, and there aren’t many teams who do that. I don’t put labels on myself and I don’t read what others put on me, I only analyse the games and see that we are, based on the combinations, one of the best in attack.”

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