Kylian Mbappe celebrates his landmark goal (Aurelien Morissard/AP) (AP)
Who doesn’t love a little transfer speculation, Kylian Mbappe, arguably the world’s most valuable footballer, finds himself yet again amidst transfer rumours worldwide. PSG miraculously managed to keep the star after it looked all but guaranteed that the speedy Frenchman would be taking his talents to Madrid. Mbappe was granted more than money in Paris as he was awarded a seat at the so-called table; given the power to help decide on manager, sporting director, and squad decisions. The Parisians believed this three-year deal would be more than enough to keep the World Cup winner happy in Paris.
A letter Mbappe recently sent to the club stating his intention not to sign a contract extension after the conclusion of the 2023-2024 season shattered any dreams that PSG ownership or fans had of the starboy prolonging his stay in Paris.
What was originally believed to be a three-year contract extension signed last summer has turned out to be a two-year deal with the option lying with Mbappe to extend after that 2023-2024 season. With Mbappe’s intentions now clear, PSG must enter scramble mode as they risk losing their prime asset, one which they bought for €180 million, for free after the conclusion of next season.
The situation presents the Parisians with two clear options for dealing with Mbappe: sell him this summer to the plethora of suitors, or convince him just as they did last summer of the advantage of staying in his home city. Here we look at the likely options for Mbappe this summer:
Real Madrid appears to be the obvious choice for a player who has long been tied to the historic club. After trying endlessly last summer to secure the rights to the star Frenchman, Madrid came out with nothing but false hope. For months it felt as though Mbappe lighting up the Bernabeu week after week would be a guarantee but Mbappe saw the Parc Des Princes as having too much to offer at that time to leave. One summer later the Madridistas believe they have found solace as they become yet again the frontrunner to sign Mbappe. Coming off a slightly disappointing season by Madrid standards that included a Copa Del Rey trophy, a second place La Liga finish, and a semi-final defeat to eventual champions Manchester City, Real Madrid are also set to lose legendary No 9 Karim Benzema. This represents a perfect transition period for Madrid as they look to bring in the hyper-talented Mbappe to replace the lost goals from Benzema’s departure.
A mere few years ago the idea that a player of Mbappe’s caliber in the prime of his career would go to a league such as the Saudi’s would seem rooted in fantasy. Yet, as we have all learned money talks and the Saudi League sure has a lot. The PIF, or Public Investment Fund, is Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund that has been largely investing in sport over the past few years. This has seen them creating LIV Golf, purchasing 80 percent of Newcastle United in the premier league, and now, purchasing four of their home nation’s 16 Saudi Pro League teams. With the wealth that these teams now possess and the high-profile names that have gone to Saudi Arabia in the past year, there seems to be at least a chance that Mbappe could venture to the Middle East.
Al Hillal, Al-Nassr, Al-Ittihad, and Al-Ahil represent the four clubs that the PIF has taken over. Cristiano Ronaldo plays for Al-Nassr, while Lionel Messi was recently connected to Al-Hillal, which reportedly offered a three-year 1.6 billion euro deal to the Argentinian. Madrid’s Benzema and Mbappe’s Les Bleus teammate N’golo Kante have signed with Al-Ittihad and Al-Ahil has just ventured up through promotion to the Pro League. If Mbappe were to venture to the Persian Gulf, Al-Hillal seems like an obvious choice with the empty spot and money left behind when Messi chose Miami over the Saudis. While the money for both PSG and Mbappe would be abundant it still seems a little far-fetched that a player of Mbappe’s level, who still is in the beginning of his prime, would sojourn to one of these clubs. Recent history has taught us not to underestimate the lure of Saudi money; yet again there always remains a chance that the Saudi’s offer a deal neither PSG nor Mbappe could refuse.
While Mbappe has made his intentions clear that he does not want to renew his contract into 2025, PSG still have the opportunity to convince their star to stay on yet again. Mbappe has enjoyed much success in Paris domestically, finishing as the league’s top goal scorer in five straight seasons as well as securing five of six Ligue 1 trophies with the club.
Yet, with PSG entering each Ligue 1 season as massive favorites, this domestic success does not seem to be enough to keep Mbappe happy. Success in the illustrious Champions League which defines Europe’s best seems to be the next step for Mbappe who has seen his club flame out in back-to-back Round of 16’s. How can PSG convince Mbappe of their future in this tournament with a jettisoned Messi and an aging Neymar must be the No 1 question in Paris. While it seems to be quite clear Mbappe has no intention of staying on, this same sentiment was echoed repeatedly just a year ago. One thing we can trust is that Mbappe will do what he sees as best for his future whether that is financially or on the pitch.
Manchester United or the Premier League?
Should a takeover of Manchester United be completed in the near future, the new owners, Sir Jim Ratcliffe or Qatar’s Sheikh Jassim, would surely be interested in a statement signing.
PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has denied any involvement in the takeover process at Old Trafford, yet an existing relationship could help any potential deal.
Chelsea would surely be interested with Todd Boehly eager to make an impact in the market once more, yet the figures involved in such a deal might prove beyond the Blues with so many other areas of the squad to address.