REAL MADRID have made a € 160 million bid for Kylian Mbappé of Paris Saint-Germain, arguably the most coveted player in world football today. This is the same Real Madrid that was impacted by the pandemic to the tune of € 300 million, the same club that has around £ 900 million of gross debt. At the same time, Real managed to generate a profit of just under a million euros in 2020-21, making then one of the few major clubs to avoid an annual loss during the crisis.
One could argue that football clubs spending seven figure sums on players seems inappropriate and a little insensitive in a time of hardship for many people. Furthermore, despite the reassuring financial figures, the pandemic’s economic consequences was one of the drivers of the European Super League. The project hasn’t fully gone away, as Real, along with Barcelona and Juventus, are desperately clinging to the idea like a life raft.
Apparently, Real Madrid have been making way for a bid for Mbappé as they are obsessed with luring the French striker to Spain. Mbappé has hinted this would be his country of choice, so if it’s Spain, it has to be either Real or Barca. It cannot be the latter as they are deep in crisis at the moment, so Real it will probably be – eventually. Some people have forgotten that Mbappé, when signing for PSG in 2017, had an agreement he could negotiate a move if Real Madrid ever came hunting for him.
Mbappé’s contract runs out in June 2022, so the Paris Saint-Germain management have to tie him down or maximise his transfer fee. If PSG were a normal, conventional club, this is precisely what they would do, but they are not. Given their riches, a transfer fee is almost irrelevant, but having such a talent in your squad is of paramount importance. So, the usual negotiatory path does not apply here. PSG badly want that UEFA Champions League title to anoint their position in the game – why let Mbappé go when they could, albeit for a short spell, field Mbappé, Neymar and Lionel Messi?
Real and Mbappé could play a game of bluff for the next few months, neither one committing fully as PSG throw more money at the problem. The longer this goes on, the more beneficial it will be for Real Madrid and Mbappé. In June 2022, Real could, in theory, get him for nothing, while Mbappé could also benefit from a great personal deal that hasn’t included a transfer fee.
Real, meanwhile, have been trying to trim their cost base and have been relatively inactive in the transfer market. They sold Raphael Varane and Martin Ødegaard to Manchester United and Arsenal respectively, raising € 75 million in the process. Other players, such as Isco, Marceloa and Gareth Bale, may also be on their way soon. Simultaneously, Real have secured the core of their squad, aware that if they do manage to prise Mbappé away from the French capital, PSG may attempt reprisals.
As it stands, PSG have rejected the bid from Real Madrid and their sporting director, Leandro called the action “disrespectful, incorrect, illegal and unacceptable”, adding that Real have contacted the player directly. Interesting that they should feel so aggrieved when their own approach to player acquisition has been one of dogged determination. PSG know Mbappé wants to leave, but they have been quite adamant that in cases where a player is looking to depart, it has to be on the club’s terms. “Our objective is to protect the club and keep Kylian and extend his deal,” they said. Le Parisien newspaper reported that PSG want € 220 million for Mbappe. Is that beyond Real’s appetite? The story will run, but probably only until August 31.