Kylian Mbappe to Real Madrid – Will it happen this time or will the capital club look like fools again? 

Kylian Mbappe is once again linked with a move to Real Madrid.

When the news broke last summer that not only was Kylian Mbappe staying put at Paris Saint-Germain but extending his contract, Real Madrid and their fans were made to look like fools. A fiasco that lasted years but peaked last summer had supposedly concluded – Mbappe was not going to be the next Galactico signing. Instead, he is staying put at PSG for eye-watering amounts of money, numbers never seen before (at that point) in football.

However, fast forward an entire year, and we are right back to where we were last summer. Kylian Mbappe is once again linked with a move to Real Madrid after PSG failed to beat Bayern Munich in the Round-of-16 in the UEFA Champions League, and winning Ligue 1 by a mere point. But more importantly, Los Blancos were handed a reality check by treble winners Manchester City. The second-leg defeat to Pep Guardiola’s men sent out a resounding message to the rest of Europe that there is a new sheriff in town. This has led to Madrid President Florentino Perez initiating Galacticos 4.0 as the capital club has signed highly coveted Jude Bellingham and brought back the likes of Fran Garcia and Brahim Diaz while being linked with the likes of Harry Kane and Kylian Mbappe.

Mbappe’s extension with PSG has not gone according to plan. The trio of Neymar, Lionel Messi and Mbappe has been a colossal failure. Time and time again, Messi and Neymar have gone missing in the most crucial Champions League games. Mbappe was hardly influential in this year’s tie against Bayern Munich. But even before this, Mbappe wanted Neymar out, according to reports. This is largely down to Mbappe wanting to play on the flanks as opposed to being the main man through the middle. His days with AS Monaco saw the Frenchman play on both the flanks while his time with his national team has seen him play across the frontline and not being restricted to playing down the middle. Even at PSG, in his early days and with Edinson Cavani still in the starting eleven, Mbappe was deployed off the right wing, something he cannot do with Messi and Neymar in the lineup.

However, at Madrid, he could play off the right wing. Vinícius Jùnior has locked down the left wing spot, but Mbappe and him could easily swap flanks in-game much like Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale did during their heyday. Alternatively, Mbappe could be deployed centrally but drifts out wide to the left whenever possible and combines with Vinícius as illustrated in the image below. Essentially, the front three would be Mbappe, Vinícius and Rodrygo with Valverde starting the right side of the midfield and having the right flank locked with a back 3 being formed by David Alaba, Antonio Rudiger and Éder Militāo.

The negative side of things would be that this sounds all well and good in theory. Executing this on the field is a completely different thing than preaching it. Another caveat would be that Mbappe would want the #7 jersey as his admiration and adoration for Cristiano Ronaldo has been well-documented. The #7 jersey has just been handed to Vinícius Jùnior. However, the #9 shirt is up for grabs and like Ronaldo, Mbappe could don that jersey in his first season with the club.

While the on-field bits and bobs can be worked out, it’s the contractual situation that needs to be talked more about. Like last year, Mbappe has one year left in his contract. However, he does have the option to extend that to 2025 and has declined that, according to reports. French newspaper L’Équipe reported that Mbappe doesn’t intend to sign the extension. This has led to PSG offering him an ultimatum – either sign the extension or be sold this summer. Mbappe is their golden goose and could easily fetch €200 million in the market. So, losing him on a free transfer would be a formidable blow even to the riches of Nasser Al-Khelaifi.

Madrid certainly doesn’t have much help in this situation as the relationship between both clubs has completely broken down after last year’s fiasco. So, it’s hard to see PSG negotiating with Real Madrid unless Mbappe forces the issue and tells them that he will only leave for the Los Blancos this summer. It was even rumoured that the Spanish giants made two more offers last summer that were worth excess of €200 million, something that PSG didn’t even respond to.

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The likes of French President Emmanuel Macron got involved in trying to convince the 23-year-old to stay in Paris. There was even the image rights fiasco earlier this year when PSG used an excerpt from an interview with Mbappe to persuade season-ticket holders into renewing with the club. Mbappe called this out by saying, “PSG is a big club and a big family, but it is certainly not Kylian Saint-Germain.” Coincidentally, Real Madrid was willing to offer Mbappe 100% control over his image rights, something PSG were never willing to do.

It was also rumoured that Mbappe had significant control within the organisation after his extension last summer. He wanted a competent sporting director in charge and PSG brought in Luis Campos, his former mentor at AS Monaco. It was also rumoured that Mbappe wanted Robert Lewandowski and Aurélien Tchouaméni, but the former sealed a move to Barcelona and the latter moved to Real Madrid.

With all that said, it has been three years running now of how Mbappe has been linked with a move to Real Madrid and it nearly came to fruition last summer. He recently apologised to Florentino Perez for the perceived betrayal of last summer. Make of all this what you will but Kylian Mbappe and Real Madrid seem to be a match made in heaven even if it takes a little bit longer.

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