Now that France has crashed out of UEFA Euro 2020, Kylian Mbappé—the player primarily responsible for the early exit—must make a decision regarding his footballing future.
The 22-year-old Frenchman has one year left on his contract at Paris Saint-Germain and has said very little about his intention to sign an extension (or his desire to leave for that matter). So, the media is doing the talk for him. This week, L’Equipe (via Managing Madrid) reported that Mbappé has told PSG that he won’t sign a new deal and presumably play one final season for Les Parisiens before departing for Real Madrid as Fabrizio Romano told PSG Talk recently.
Kylian Mbappe has told individuals at PSG that he WON'T sign a new deal and will see out his current contract, reports L'Equipe 🇫🇷 pic.twitter.com/QSIBucAl28
— Goal (@goal) June 30, 2021
Breaking | Kylian Mbappé has told certain individuals at PSG that, as it stands, he will not sign a contract extension, but he will see out the final year of his contract, according to tomorrow's L'Équipe. More follows.
— Get French Football News (@GFFN) June 30, 2021
This is certainly not the news PSG supporters wanted to hear. Not only would the club lose a generational talent like Mbappé, but they would receive absolutely nothing in return for a player valued at more than €150 million. A catastrophic proposition for any club.
Why Would Mbappé Want to Leave PSG?
This is the question I keep asking myself. Some might point to the inferiority of Ligue 1, and while that might be the case compared to La Liga, the Premier League, etc., Lille OSC did beat PSG to the title last season.
Could it be that PSG hasn’t built a squad around him capable of winning the UEFA Champions League? Well, last season, PSG reached the semi-finals and the season before, the finals. The capital club is as close to winning the trophy as anyone else in Europe and they’ve already added Georginio Wijnaldum this summer and expected to sign Gianluigi Donnarumma, Achraf Hakimi, and Sergio Ramos in the coming weeks.
The only rational reason Mbappé wants to run down his contract and leave his hometown club empty-handed is due to some kind of falling out with Leonardo, PSG’s sporting director, combined with a strong desire to join Real Madrid, the club he idolized as a young football prodigy.
Leonardo has created tension with Mbappé 🇫🇷 to the point that the board is concerned he has done irreparable damage to the situation, per @lequipe 🔴🔵
— PSGhub (@PSGhub) June 30, 2021
Kylian Mbappe used to have a few Cristiano Ronaldo posters on his wall as a kid… pic.twitter.com/0wKRB4Xdpk
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 22, 2017
Even if Mbappé signed a one or two-year deal with PSG, it wouldn’t include a buyout clause due to French regulations and after major renovations to its stadium, Real Madrid likely couldn’t afford PSG’s asking price next summer.
Also pushing Mbappé away from PSG and French football could be the media, as journalist Robin Bairner writes. After missing the penalty for France, Bairner expects criticism of the superstar to reach a boiling point and that he could find some reprieve in Spain where he would be welcomed with much fanfare. Of course, one poor performance against FC Barcelona, and I’m sure the Spanish press would tear him apart.
Is Mbappé Making the Right Decision?
Only time will tell. If I were Mbappé, I might be a bit nervous about a move to Real Madrid when examining the career trajectory of Eden Hazard and Gareth Bale. Both were global superstars before joining Los Blancos and now, they’re kind of a joke.
Looking at the rest of the squad, they do have a world-class defender in Raphaël Varane, but it’s been reported that he could be on the move this summer. Karim Benzema is still banging in goals but he’s on the wrong side of 30, as is Luka Modric, and Toni Kroos. This summer, they’ve only added David Alaba on a free transfer from Bayern Munich, and at the moment, it’s not expected that they’ll do much more.
Then there’s Zinedine Zidane, who curiously departed Real Madrid at the end of the season and is likely going to be named the next manager of the France national team. Real Madrid replaced Zidane with Carlo Ancelotti, who is a fine manager and once led PSG, but Mbappé didn’t idolize him growing up like he did Zizou.
In the short term, this is a head-scratching move from Mbappé. PSG is clearly on an upward trajectory while Real Madrid is dealing with financial issues while trying to turn over an aging squad. Mbappé would be a great start to that process, especially if they can get him on a free, and with Erling Haaland likely to be on the move next summer with a reasonable buyout (compared to his open-market value) at Borussia Dortmund, Madrid could be playing the long-game here.
Is There Anything PSG Can Do to Keep Mbappé?
Unfortunately, PSG has zero leverage in this situation. The only thing they can do is continue to sign world-class players and prove their project is the best in Europe. They still have Mbappé for another season and you could argue the upcoming edition of PSG is the best in the history of the club. Winning the Champions League would be a nice parting gift.
PSG could also go on the offensive this summer and shop Mbappé to clubs who might be interested. It’s a long shot, but if PSG can convince other clubs to make an offer and leak that to the media, Real Madrid might feel they need to act this summer and offer PSG a transfer fee or package of players to secure his signature. Mbappé has spoken highly of Liverpool FC in the past, so perhaps the Premier League club would be willing to make a bid and steal him away from the La Liga side.
Can PSG Survive Without Mbappé?
Absolutely. If the reported transfers are confirmed this summer, PSG’s squad will be one of the best in Europe even without Mbappé. Let’s take a look at what a starting XI could look like without him:
Goalkeeper: Keylor Navas or Gianluigi Donnarumma
Defense: Juan Bernat, Marquinhos, Presnel Kimpembe or Sergio Ramos, Achraf Hakimi
Midfield: Marco Verratti, Georginio Wijnaldum, Leandro Paredes
Attack: Neymar Jr., Angel Di Maria, Mauro Icardi
The point is, while Mbappé is a fantastic player, PSG is well on its way to replacing much of what he does on the pitch while also adding key players to build a well-rounded and deep squad.
Losing Mbappé on a free transfer to a European rival would sting, but the future is bright for PSG nonetheless.
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