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Mbappé signing: PSG is a dragon fed by UEFA


I’ll admit that up to the last moment I thought things would fall Real Madrid’s way and Mbappé would be coming to the Bernabéu. I couldn’t believe that someone who yearns to be the best player in the world, and has a real chance of being exactly that, would choose to stay in the French League and at this PSG side who inspire so little respect in me. (I can smugly say I said what was going to happen in my article in this newspaper on the day Real Madrid knocked them out of Champions League). They are a bunch of stars with no anthropological ground on which to stand. Nor does France offer anything, with football not among its favourite sports, nor PSG, a black hole which Neymar was sucked into and lost at his peak and which later absorbed Messi, and from the moment he joined his star lost some of its lustre.

When Mbappé was himself on the receiving end of the electrical storm of the Bernabéu at full frenzy, I thought he’d want to experience that on the other side. He’d taken his time, he’d done his service and banked a lot of cash at PSG. I thought he’d want to go for some authentic football, which is what Real Madrid cultivate. And I’m not talking from a point of supremacist view of Madrid, though the 13 European triumphs can’t be denied. Bayern, Juve, Milan, United, Chelsea, City… there are so many other destinations which seem more appropriate to me for someone of Mbappé's talent, starting with the leagues those clubs represent. Please don’t take this as a slur on France, a country we owe so much to, form the Enlightenment to the Olympic Games, the World Cup, the Tour de France or the European Cup itself. But its league isn’t the place for a truly great player. Kopa, Platini, Zidane, Benzema… they all left looking for greater challenges.

Mbappé and Financial Fair Play

Mbappé decided to go with something else, giving in to pressure and temptation. More money than he can count, Power, with a capital letter, putting the squeeze on him. It’s his decision to make, and I don’t know how many would have done differently in his situation, but it is, too, a defeat for the football industry, in this case represented by Real Madrid, whose income is what they can earn from what they do, set against the model of State-Clubs which have been given the blessing of UEFA in a wretched abandonment of responsibility. The concern has been there for years; years ago a set of rules was drawn up to preserve what we call Financial Fair Play; for years this has been infringed by several clubs. And PSG have done it the most and the most explicitly. They bought Neymar for 222 million, took in Messi when Barcelona couldn’t pay for him and who have now have stopped at nothing to keep Mbappé,

It’s a setback for Real Madrid and for Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez’s pride, but i think in this instance they can’t be criticised. Madrid generally acts with financial caution at the moment, always applying, of course, a little of the usual football slack to the situation (Bale, Hazard, Jovic…) But in general they’ve been following a prudent course, hunting through the outlet store of players who are out of contract (today Rüdiger, yesterday Alaba…) and looking for upcoming youngsters. For Mbappé, I think they did what they could: offered 200 million compensation to PSG for a player who was about to go out of contract. With that rejected, they waited for the fruit to ripen. But the ripe fruit is staying in Paris because PSG is backed by state money. I fear that even if Madrid hadn’t decided to renovate the Bernabéu and had had more money at their disposal even that wouldn’t have been enough to persuade the player.

PSG is a dragon

It’s an ugly moment for football, which is going to make the unhealed wound of the useless attempt at Super League fester. The aim of that, more than just a change of tournament, was the destruction of UEFA. Although the conspirators didn’t include in their rules a respect for financial fair play rather just a limit on the percentage of spending on the squad without specifying limits on sponsorship or additional income, this Mbappé affair can be used as proof the current system does not work. And it will be true. As of today, PSG is a dragon pampered by and fed by UEFA, born for the pride of sheikh who plays with a different set of cards.

Mbappé will do well, no doubt. But the decision he’s taken damages football.


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