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'Operación Mbappé': tensions rise between Real Madrid and PSG

'Operation Mbappé' is now on hold until 2021 but PSG would rather lose the French star on a free in 2022 than be forced to sell him to Real Madrid next summer.

Mbappé, en el Bernabéu, el 26 de noviembre.
Quality Sport ImagesGetty Images

‘Operation Mbappé’ is once again heating up. The young PSG star remains the dream signing for Real Madrid, where president Florentino Peréz and coach Zinedine Zidane both see him as the missing jewel in the Bernabéu crown.

The 21-year-old forward was set to be the grand objective this summer, but the operation will now be postponed until 2021 due to the coronavirus crisis. Mbappé’s current contract ends in 2022 and PSG are aware that Madrid trusts that the Frenchman will not accept a contract extension, a scenario which could inevitably push the Parisian club to sit down to talks with Bernabéu representatives.

However, as reported by AS earlier on Wednesday, PSG’s position remains iron-clad: they will not be forced to sell their prized striker, with sporting director, Leonardo, preferring to let him leave for free in 2022 rather than accepting an offer in the summer of 2021, regardless of the figure.

Tensions rise between Real Madrid and PSG

Relations between PSG and Real Madrid have been excellent and Peréz has tried to keep it that way by previously denying rumours of Madrid’s interest in both Neymar and Mbappé. However, Zidane’s words in November went some way in upsetting the ties between the clubs.

"At the moment he plays for Paris Saint-Germain, we'll see in the future if that changes. I know he always said his dream is to play for Real Madrid,” said the French coach in what was a clear bat of the eyelids towards his young compatriot.

PSG’s frustrations after Zidane’s comments were summed up by Leonardo. “Honestly, it bothers me a little. This is not the time to talk about dreams and all that. Stop it. Mbappé is very important to us and this is not the time to destabilize him,” said the PSG director.

“He is the best young French player, a world champion, and one of the best in the world. This is not the time to try to unsettle him. It is time to stop. He still has two and a half years on his contract with us.”

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However, not long after the Zidane could not help but express his “love” for Mbappé, once again raising tensions between the club on the eve of their Champions League meeting on November 26. “You know that I have known him for a long time. I am already in love with him, firstly as a person, because he came to do a trial here a long time ago,” Zidane told reporters.

This time, it was PSG coach Thomas Tuchel who responded to Zidane, saying: “I do not know how much infatuation Zidane has regarding Mbappé... Sometimes you love players that you can't have." Two days later, Leonardo returned to the scene to deliver a short and resounding declaration: "Mbappé is going to stay, one hundred percent."

Mbappé: the man in the middle

And so where does the player stand amid the rising tension between PSG and Real Madrid? Mbappé himself contributed to intensifying the Madrid links in January when he proclaimed that Zidane was “was my first idol”.

And while Zidane and Mbappé expressed their admiration another, tensions rose between the latter and his PSG coach. On more than one occasion, Mbappé has expressed his frustrations over being taken off this season, most notably during the 5-0 win over Montpellier in February, where footage of his heated touchline exchange with Tuchel inevitably went viral.

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“I explained to him why we did this, and it will stay that way. I will always decide the technical aspects. We don't play tennis, we play soccer and we have to respect everyone,” said Tuchel in the post-match press conference after a clearly upset Mbappé was seen pushing the coach away as he tried to explain his motives for taking him off.

Following that touchline altercation, Leonardo arranged a meeting with Mbappé to try to smooth things over – an encounter revealed by Le Parisien that suggested that the relationship between player and coach was indeed at a critical point.

The situation had undoubtedly left Madrid rubbing their hands before football came to a standstill due to coronavirus, the financial impact of which will force Madrid to postpone ‘Operation Mbappé’ for the time being. But while Peréz yearns for the French superstar, PSG will remain steadfast on not selling him, preferring to risk losing him on a free in 2022 rather than folding to their Spanish rivals. In the meantime, Mbappé will continue to dream about one day wearing the white of Madrid.


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