Will Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappé join Real Madrid this summer?
Real Madrid’s line is that their incoming summer transfer business is now done, but PSG are open to selling Mbappé in the current window.
For the sixth off-season in a row, a potential Kylian Mbappé move to Real Madrid is dominating Spain’s talk shows, sports pages and bar room conversations. Football fans across the country are asking: “Will Mbappé join the club this summer?”
As this newspaper has previously reported, the line at Real Madrid is that there will be no more incoming business in the wake of the arrivals of Fran García, Brahim Díaz, Jude Bellingham and Joselu Mato.
But this is football we’re talking about, and the summer has only just got started. Between now and 1 September, when the transfer window closes, the Mbappé saga could have all manner of twists and turns in store. As this game of chess continues to be played out - and as Madrid’s fans debate the merits of paying a fee for the striker now or snapping him up for free in 2024 - it’s worth taking stock of where the three parties in this process are at as things stand.
In May 2022, Mbappé staged a controversial U-turn when he broke his verbal agreement with Florentino Pérez, Madrid’s club president, and opted to sign a new PSG deal instead of joining Los Blancos on a free. The striker had been persuaded to stay in Paris by phone calls from French president Emmanuel Macron, by pressure from the emir of Qatar… and by the offer of a contract worth at least €400m if he remained at the Parc des Princes until 2025.
But, two weeks ago, PSG let it be known that Mbappé had sent the club a letter informing them of his intention to waive the optional final season of his three-year contract. This would allow him to depart for free in 12 months’ time. The 24-year-old, who is hurt at the club’s attempts to put renewed public pressure on him over his future, has acknowledged that he sent the letter, but has stressed that “a lot can happen in a year”.
Were he to sign for Madrid now, Mbappé would be one of the star names on show in the inauguration of the revamped Bernabéu, which is expected to be ready in late December. But, by joining the Spaniards this summer, he also knows he would miss out on the bumper signing-on fee that he’d pocket if he moved to Madrid on a free. He would also be walking away from the €100m net - plus bonuses - that PSG are due to pay him next season.
For now, Mbappé has gone on holiday and is due to report for PSG pre-season in July; the exact date has not been confirmed, as the club waits to firm up its pursuit of Luis Enrique as their new head coach. The Spaniard, by the way, is expected to plead with club chairman Nasser Al Khelaïfi to do everything he can to keep hold of the France star.
AS has already revealed that the current position at Madrid is that they have made all their summer signings. Reliable sources have told this newspaper that Mbappé “isn’t in the club’s plans for this summer”; Los Blancos’ focus is on securing his services on a free in 2024. As he left a Madrid restaurant earlier this month, Pérez told a fan: “Mbappé will come to the club, yes… but not this year.”
Despite this seemingly categorical stance, however, the club appear to have left a window open for Mbappé's arrival ahead of the 2023/24 campaign.
Their decision not to give new striker Joselu the No. 9 shirt has inevitably aroused suspicions that they still hold out some hope of signing Mbappé this summer. It’s also possible that the club remain open to bringing in an alternative high-quality centre-forward if one becomes available at an affordable price.
At PSG, the situation has changed. The French champions are no longer hell bent on holding on to Mbappé come what may. In 2021, the club rejected a Madrid bid of €200m for the player. They didn’t even respond to the offer, a snub that Pérez hasn’t forgotten about. But now, PSG would prefer to sell Mbappé this summer rather than face the humiliation of seeing him leave for free in a year’s time.
On Thursday, the media outlet PSG Community revealed that, in a meeting between a member of Mbappé's camp and a representative of the emir, the player was told that he must commit his future to PSG before pre-season starts, or he will be put up for sale. The club’s owners are at pains to avoid him leaving for free in 2024; but, for Madrid, the prospect of saving a potential €200m transfer fee is extremely attractive.
However, should Madrid’s results not be up to scratch in pre-season, or a key member of the team suffer an injury, things could change…