PSG-Real Madrid Champions League tie complicates Mbappe move
The prospect of PSG forward Kylian Mbappé playing against Real Madrid in the Champions League has led the Bernabéu to alter strategy regarding move.
Real Madrid meeting PSG in the last 16 of the Champions League following the restaged draw on Monday will have repercussions beyond the purely footballing element. Madrid originally drew Benfica, while PSG were paired with Manchester United in a broadcaster-pleasing reunion between Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, before the decision was made to redo the draw due to a technical error in the original lottery. Kylian Mbappé is widely tipped for a transfer to Real Madrid next summer when his PSG contract expires, with the France forward free to negotiate with foreign clubs as of January. But logically, the vagaries of the draw will now require a different strategy from the Bernabéu board.
The double header between PSG and Madrid is scheduled for 15 February (at the Parc des Princes) and 9 March (at the Bernabéu), which throws up the unfortunate scenario that Mbappé could feasibly line up for PSG having already agreed a deal with Madrid (he is expected to sign a six-year contract with the Liga club). PSG have been attempting to persuade Mbappé to sign a new deal without success for some time but are becoming increasingly resigned to losing the France forward, who has outperformed both Messi and Neymar this season with 13 goals and 12 assists in 23 appearances.
Given the delicacy of the situation, Madrid have been forced to alter their approach. Florentino Pérez had initially promised an update on Mbappé in January - provoking a furious reaction from PSG - when the two parties will be free to sign a pre-contract agreement. Now due to the meeting of the two sides on the pitch, Madrid will make no announcement until the end of the season out of respect for PSG, and if an agreement is reached between Mbappé and the Bernabéu board, it will remain under wraps. Were Mbappé to agree to join Madrid before the Champions League encounter, he would be placed in an impossible position with the PSG ultras and it is in Madrid’s interest to ensure he has no issues at his present club.
“The important thing is Kylian’s maturity. He knows how to carry this pressure and we will help him to carry it. There is no rush to sign anything. We know he has taken a firm decision and that’s the truly important thing,” a club source said.
L’Equipe: Mbappé will sign no Madrid agreement before March
French sports daily L’Equipe, which has strong links with PSG, has reported that Mbappé will sign nothing before the Champions League tie has been concluded in March. The paper also added that negotiations between PSG and Mbappé over a new deal have been reinitiated, but with no tangible progress as yet.
While the draw has set Madrid’s plan back a couple of months, it has given PSG sporting director Leonardo and owner Nasser Al-Khelaifi a brief window of opportunity to seduce Mbappé. The last big offer made by PSG was back in August, when an offer making Mbappé the club’s highest-paid player was tabled, but that was still not enough to convince the France forward, who is seeking assurances about his place in the hierarchy and the club’s future plans.
Mbappé scored twice against Monaco at the weekend and received an ovation from the Parc des Princes, which has given Leonardo and Al Khelaifi a glimmer of hope. The PSG honchos are set to make a final offer before the end of the year, pre-empting Mbappé becoming a free agent. L’Equipe concurs that the most likely scenario is that Mbappé will leave next summer, but nothing can be ruled out until the season ends.