Aurelien Tchouameni has revealed that he snubbed a plea from fellow France international Kylian Mbappe to join Paris Saint-Germain prior to completing a €100 million (£85m/$107m) transfer to Real Madrid that has seen him inherit the No.18 shirt from Gareth Bale at Santiago Bernabeu.
The talented 22-year-old is linking up with the Blancos after seeing his stock soar across two-and-a-half seasons at Monaco.
His current ability and future potential have convinced the current holders of La Liga and Champions League titles to invest heavily in his ability, with a hot prospect opting to fill the jersey vacated by a Wales international in the Spanish capital rather than join an illustrious countryman in the French equivalent.
At his official unveiling at the Bernabeu, Tchoumani has explained why – after seeing Mbappe pass up the chance to join Real this summer as he committed to a new contract at PSG – he believes the best decision has been taken for his career.
He said: “Kylian decided to stay at PSG and he already knew I was going to leave Monaco and wanted to know if I could go to PSG, but I told him I wanted Madrid and he understood perfectly.
“I have been lucky enough to speak with [Karim] Benzema and [Eduardo] Camavinga. In the case of Camavinga, we have seen how he has improved in his first year and I am going to be lucky enough to play for the club with the best striker in the world. When the negotiations progressed, he wrote to me and he asked me if he could help me.
“I now want to leave a mark on football and the best club for this is Real Madrid. It’s the best decision for me. I try to be the best on the field. The price of the signing doesn’t interest me at all.”
The Blancos have confirmed that their latest big-money signing will be taking the No.18 spot in Carlo Ancelotti’s squad.
Bale was switched from 11 to 18 after returning to the Bernabeu from a loan spell at Tottenham in the 2020-21 campaign.
That jersey was free as Serbian striker Luka Jovic, the previous occupant, had moved to No.16.
Marcos Llorente, Mariano Diaz, Lucas Vazquez and Nacho Fernandez have all taken ownership of the No.18 jersey in recent times, while Raul Albiol spent four years with that shirt on his back between 2009 and 2013.
Javier Saviola and Antonio Cassano have also played that role in Real’s squad, as did shock signing Julian Faubert in 2008-09, while former England international defender Jonathan Woodgate took said jersey when moving to Spain from Newcastle in 2004.
Three-time Champions League winner and former first team coach Aitor Karanka is another to have donned 18 on his back down the years.