Real Madrid has not forgotten Kylian Mbappe and Mbappe certainly has not forgotten Real Madrid.
From the outside, things seem quite different. Madrid have talked about the possibility of signing the 24-year-old striker – both publicly and privately – because they do not want the topic to appear in the media. After what happened with failed attempts to sign Mbappe last summer, they are proceeding with caution.
But they still open more separate channels of communication with the player and his entourage, and since the 2022 World Cup, there has been movement.
When asked by sportMbappe’s representative replied that they did not wish to comment on the subject. And a senior source in Madrid, who also asked to speak anonymously to defend their views, insisted they had not heard from Mbappe since last summer.
The situation is far from clear. If we learned anything from last summer’s story, it’s to expect more twists, turns, and versions of the truth.
What we do know is that it’s a far-fetched story, and we’ll try to keep you informed as things progress.
Mbappe’s story to Real Madrid is entering a new phase. To build a picture of what might happen next, we need to get back to Paris before the summer of 2022…
On May 21, a week before the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool in Paris, Mbappe announced what those closest to him described as the most difficult decision he had made in his career. .
In a message that left him “heartbroken”, according to the same sources, Mbappe explained to Madrid president Florentino Perez that his desire to move to the Spanish giants was impossible. He chose to renew with Paris Saint-Germain.
Mbappe’s decision was influenced by political pressure. Senior Qatari officials and French president Emmanuel Macron have been involved in negotiations over his new contract. Money also plays a role and there is some controversy surrounding the subject.
People close to the striker, as well as the player himself in public, assert and still insist that he will make more money at the Bernabeu. They say that Real Madrid, in a historic and unprecedented concession, offered Mbappe 100% ownership of his image rights, which PSG did not do. For their part, Real Madrid say they can never match anything that PSG has to offer.
In Paris, there were celebrations as Mbappe posed with the number 2025 shirt. But in reality, his contract was only extended until 2024, with the option to extend for another season that only Mbappe has. can only be activated.
The 2018 World Cup winner with France then tried to limit the damage caused to the Madrid fans. He was unsuccessful, with supporters reacting angrily when he posted on Instagram: “I will be the first Real Madrid supporter in the Champions League final.”
The relationship between Perez and Fayza Lamari, Mbappe’s mother and agent, has practically broken down. Perez feels betrayed, as he believes he has agreed to the terms of Mbappe’s future contract as a Madrid player. Lamari had previously said that they had made it clear they were still talking to PSG and blamed Perez for revealing to the Spanish media that the signing was done.
But there are other people involved in the negotiations, who have always maintained the relationship is still alive. The goal is clear: if Mbappe decides to leave PSG, Real Madrid will be ready to negotiate.
In fact, that has been the club’s plan since Mbappe decided to stay with the French champions in May. And what happened in July reinforced this strategy.
Almost a month and a half after Mbappe extended his contract, he expressed his displeasure with the management over the direction PSG are heading, as confirmed to sport by sources from both the player’s entourage and the French club, who requested anonymity to protect their positions.
Mbappe wants PSG to assemble a squad good enough to seriously compete for the Champions League. The Parc des Princes board responded by appointing sporting director Luis Campos, who worked with Mbappe at Monaco and has been described as his “father of football”. In addition, Campos has brought in Christophe Galtier, a coach with whom Mbappe can work easily and is willing to make recommendations – both on transfer market strategy and football decisions.
The target is midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni, who wants to join Real Madrid; a striker, Robert Lewandowski, who joined Barcelona; and midfielder Milan Skriniar stayed at Inter Milan.
While rumors swirled around Lionel Messi and Neymar’s contract renewals, the signings did not materialize and relations began to strain. In particular, the dynamic between Neymar and Mbappe has generated much discussion.
For example, Mbappe has complained on Instagram and told the media about being placed in the center striker position of the club (he prefers a more creative role on the left). He also made some gestures on the field when not receiving the ball. The tension was so intense that when asked about their relationship after playing for Brazil in a friendly against Ghana in Le Havre in September, Neymar replied “Pfff” and left the mixed zone.
In August, the two argued over which of them would be the designated penalty taker for PSG, although Galtier chose Mbappe. Then, in mid-October, sources close to Mbappe confirmed he had decided to leave during the January transfer window.
They also explained that in July, Antero Henrique, who is working as a consultant at PSG, asked him to leave but did not go to Real Madrid. Any exit must come to Liverpool, with PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi and Henrique himself demanding 400 million euros ($431 million; £352 million). Mbappe rejected that option.
Campos, the most solid link between Mbappe and PSG, knows Mbappe is not at ease. The forward is still directing all his efforts into continuing to perform on the pitch, but has told Campos he feels cheated.
Several voices within PSG say that since returning from the World Cup – where he showed his outstanding talent by winning the Golden Boot and scoring a stunning hat-trick as France lost to Argentina in the final on penalties – Mbappe is motivated and excited about the team. direction. The fact that he is playing more on the left and less in the center has contributed to that.
A January departure will not happen. And not necessarily next summer either – PSG have shown in the past that they don’t need to cash in on their prized possessions.
But PSG know that Mbappe never forgot his dream of playing for Real Madrid and there have been tensions between club and player.
“The only club that can get him out of here is Real Madrid,” said a source from PSG. sport on condition of anonymity to protect their position.
“Nothing is impossible in football, but we can ask for 400 million euros ($431 million; £352 million), or even offer him no price,” the source told the BBC. know.
Madrid, for their part, remains tight-lipped about any possible transfers. Of course, their reasoning is tied to last summer’s experience, but that doesn’t fully explain their thinking.
The Spanish club believe Mbappe’s current deal, and his influence on PSG’s decision-making, means he is essentially unattainable for any other team. But if the situation changes, if Mbappe returns to being a normal player, Real Madrid already has a plan and money ready.
They’ve worked hard to keep costs down as much as possible and have been operating profitably for the past few years, thanks to pay cuts since the COVID-19 pandemic, income from Champions League success, and smart transfer work. their good. market.
According to Transfermarkt, Real Madrid made 12.15 million euros ($13.1 million; £10.7 million) after buying and selling players in the summer of 2022. They collected 47 million euros (50, $7 million; £42.9 million) during the 2021-22 season and €104.2 million ($112.2 million; £91.5 million) during 2020-21. You have to go back to the 2019-20 season to find a negative balance: 218.7 million euros ($235.4 million; £191.9 million).
There are no guarantees in this story. How is that possible when we often see how complicated and unpredictable the world of football transfers can be? Add a player like Mbappe, clubs like PSG and Real Madrid, and that mix becomes harder to control.
Madrid, perhaps wisely, are proceeding cautiously – but they are. And however it ends, it will be entertaining along the way.
(Top photo: Antonio Borga/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images)
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