Real Madrid: PSG efforts to keep hold of Mbappé proving fruitless
With Kylian Mbappé free to talk to other clubs on 1 January, Paris Saint-Germain are getting nowhere in their attempts to persuade the Real Madrid target to stay.
As Paris Saint-Germain’s hopes of persuading Kylian Mbappé to extend his contract continue to fade, Real Madrid are watching on with increasing confidence that they will get their man. Madrid’s plan for signing Mbappé is clear, albeit it has changed slightly in the wake of the Champions League draw.
Mbappé won't sign Real Madrid pre-contract until after Champions League tie
The striker, whose PSG deal runs out at the end of the season, will be free to agree a pre-contract with Madrid from 1 January. However, with the two clubs now scheduled to meet in the Champions League last 16 in mid-February and early March, nothing will be signed until after then, in a bid to avoid suggestions of divided loyalties.
At the Bernabéu, there is total belief in Mbappé’s desire to move to the Spanish capital. And events at PSG are only serving to reinforce that belief.
Amid reports in the French media of multiple conflicts in the PSG dressing room, there is a growing sense of pessimism among PSG bosses, led by chairman Nasser Al Khelaïfi and sporting director Leonardo, over Mbappé’s future. The prestigious newspaper L’Équipe explains that talks over a new contract for the 23-year-old are at a complete impasse, just over a week before he will be able to speak to Madrid or any other club.
L’Équipe has revealed details of several episodes that speak of a dysfunctional club, and a chaotic dressing room that head coach Mauricio Pochettino is struggling to keep under control: players missing training after going out partying, a Ballon d’Or celebration for Lionel Messi that ends up in a sudden bout of gastroenteritis for many of those involved, the Wanda Nara-Mauro Icardi saga, the poor relationship between goalkeepers Keylor Navas and Gianluigi Donnarumma, threats of a heavy fine for Neymar after the Brazilian arrived late at the signing of a contract with a sponsor…
In terms of on-the-field results, PSG’s season is progressing according to plan, with the Parisians 13 points clear at the top of Ligue 1 and through to the Champions League knockout stages. Yet there is widespread criticism of the team’s play, its defensive frailties and its ongoing inability to win silverware in Europe. If PSG don’t lift the Champions League trophy this season, the project will again be considered to have failed to deliver.
PSG players lampoon club's failing attempts to tie Mbappé down
It’s against this backdrop that PSG are out to convince Mbappé to stay in Paris - and that the club is the best place for him to reach the status achieved by Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, and win the Ballon d’Or. The player remains publicly loyal to his club, though he’s also dropped hints as to his plans for the future. “Human bonds are more interesting than money,” he told an interview with Paris Match recently. PSG’s attempts to make Mbappé the highest-paid player in the squad remain unsuccessful.
Indeed, PSG’s vain attempts to prevent Mbappé’s departure for Madrid have even become the subject of dressing-room humour. One only has to look at the birthday present the player received recently from his team-mates: a PSG shirt with his name and the year 2050 on the back, in imitation of the prop traditionally used in a contract-signing photo session. The PSG players are only too aware of the progress, or lack of it, in Mbappé’s contract negotiations with the club. PSG are desperately trying to persuade him not to leave, while Madrid watch with optimism. Their plan is right on course.