Real Madrid should be in no rush to sign Kylian Mbappe - watching PSG implode will only benefit Los Blancos

Kylian Mbappe PSG
PSG now seem set to sell Kylian Mbappe, and Real Madrid have a whole summer to wait to make their move.

On Saturday, an interview recorded in June emerged in which Kylian Mbappe spoke extensively on the pressures of life at Paris Saint-Germain. He suggested that he was underappreciated, that his performances were taken for granted. He asserted that he wanted to win the Champions League, and questioned whether PSG could ever achieve that feat. Finally, he labelled the club 'divisive'.

The fallout has been predictably explosive. Shortly after, six current PSG players allegedly complained to club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi about the interview. Former sporting director Leonardo also weighed in, calling on Mbappe to leave. The France captain has pushed his luck with his loose tongue in the past, but this was the closest the disgruntled forward has come to open revolt.

And while PSG have reassumed the honorary title of 'crisis club', prospective buyers Real Madrid are in a dream situation. Los Blancos have known for some time that Mbappe wants to play for them. He hasn't said it outright - not yet - but it has been widely reported that his plan is to be in the famous white as soon as possible.

In slamming his club and aggravating his owner, Mbappe has effectively made things easier for Real, publicly signalling that he is ready for a new challenge in the Spanish capital; with every tweet, facial expression, or comment from the player, PSG's negotiating position weakens and Madrid's grows stronger and stronger.

  1. The state of play

    The state of play

    This scenario isn't necessarily new; players refuse to pen new deals in order to force transfers all the time. But it's Mbappe's power that is novel. When he signed a massive contract extension before the 2022-23 season, Mbappe ensured that he would have control of his future, while also becoming the highest-paid player in football history.

    He was perhaps always planning this, setting up the agreement so that he would always have the option to force a move - before presumptively asking for even more money to stay put. All Mbappe has done now is simply accelerate the timeline.

    PSG probably knew that they would end up here, too, but a look at the deal they offered him suggested they were quietly hopeful that he might stick around. His gaudy annual "loyalty bonus", a perfectly reasonable €70 million (£60m/$75m) payout in exchange for agreeing to stay at the club, hinted that they felt that they could keep their star player by throwing even more cash at him. Make him rich enough, assemble a very good but flawed team, and the captain might just be inclined to stick around.

    But the opposite has happened. The Parisians have given Mbappe unprecedented financial and footballing power, allowing Mbappe the sporting entity, brand, and shirt seller, to become bigger than the stadium he scampers around. And that money, appetising as it might be for their star man, has started to lose its value. No yearly bonus, ad campaign, or Parc des Princes chant can beat the allure of playing in white, it seems.

  2. PSG's position weakened
    Getty Images

    PSG's position weakened

    What PSG have not planned for, though, is the speed at which Mbappe has forced a move. When it was revealed that Mbappe would not be picking up the option on his contract to stay until 2025, the club were reportedly angry - not an unreasonable reaction from a side seeing its best player publicly wanting to leave. But, at that point, they still had some negotiating power. Indeed, as long as Mbappe didn't comment further on the issue, they could effectively set their price.

    Any public movement can impact the delicate balance of usually-secretive transfer negotiations, and it's Mbappe's repeated comments - and most recent interview - that have tipped the scales. PSG reportedly set their initial asking price at €200m (£171m/$217m), but they were never going to get that much - not from the shrewd negotiators that are Madrid. They did have a chance at getting close to it - Madrid needed a striker, and might have been forced to pay up.

    There was perhaps even the outside hope that Mbappe could stay, especially if the player remained quiet enough for contract negotiations to take place. Now, though, with Mbappe's public statements floating around social media, the Parisians are seeing their influence crumble even further. This was once a situation that could be deliberated over. Now, they'll need to move it along as quickly as possible.

  3. Real Madrid's summer so far

    Real Madrid's summer so far

    And this all suits Madrid rather well. Club president Florentino Perez is known for being a hardline but patient negotiator - such was the case with Jude Bellingham, who Perez and his team steadily worked on for months before sealing the deal for a club-friendly initial €103m (£89m/$112m). There is also the opportunistic side of Perez, reflected in him knowing he would beat Barcelona to the signing of Arda Guler by paying slightly over Fenerbahce's release clause.

    The rest of their summer has been similarly sensible. They exercised a buy-back option on promising full-back Fran Garcia. And while signing the ageing Joselu seemed to make little sense, the paltry loan payment sent to Espanyol for his services will have minimal impact on their handsome transfer budget.

    But not everything has been so easy. Karim Benzema's short-notice departure to the Saudi Pro League has left them in need of a striker, while Marco Asensio's exit could prove to be a headache of sorts at right wing. Had Benzema stuck around, this would be a non-event; there would be no need for Los Blancos to spend on a world-class striker when they already had one around.

    Now, though, they have been forced to the table. And it is there that PSG thought they might have had an advantage of sorts. Madrid, to some extent, need what they are selling, but the Spanish giants can now afford to be patient and bide their time.

  4. Could he go anywhere else?
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    Could he go anywhere else?

    If they do end up selling, PSG will hope there are alternatives here. Fabrizio Romano has reported that they are willing to listen to other offers, and there have been sporadic rumours that both Liverpool and Arsenal could make a surprise bid for the attacker. And if there ever was a player who could spark a continental bidding war, it's Mbappe. A dream turn of events for the Parisians would be to not only deny Mbappe a Madrid future, but also see him go somewhere else for more money than Los Blancos were offering.

    And there are some wealthy clubs out there. But Madrid's most obvious monetary competitor, Manchester City, are in possession of perhaps the only player in the world who can claim, on reasonable grounds, to be better than Mbappe. That he is also a striker makes a City swoop near-impossible. Manchester United are working on a limited budget and have multiple areas to address - blowing everything on one player is the kind of error that they can't afford to make. The same goes for Bayern Munich, who need a striker, but seem to have their eyes firmly set on Harry Kane, who could turn out to be a sneakily cheap investment.

    It is always a possibility that a club could drive the price up. Man City proved earlier this month with their offers for West Ham's Declan Rice that a surprise bid can certainly increase a club's profit. A Saudi Pro League offer, although unlikely to be accepted by the player himself, should also not be ruled out.

    All of these seem to be fanciful alternatives, though. PSG may do their due diligence by entering discussions elsewhere, but Mbappe wants to play in the Spanish capital.

  5. What happens now
    (C)Getty images

    What happens now

    So, the French side likely have to sell quickly. It has been reported for the last three weeks that PSG are only giving Mbappe one more week to make a sensational U-turn and pen an even-more-expensive and influential deal to extend his stay in Paris. This time, they really mean it. But with every day that passes, the club are seeing their chances at maximising their profit wane.

    And by now, Madrid don't have to do anything - they are in a position of blissful comfort. Los Blancos can be almost certain that Mbappe wants to play for them, while also counting on the fact that he won't accept a deal elsewhere. This transfer, once a lengthy negotiation that seemed to require great care, can be coasted to.

    A few weeks ago, Madrid had reason to panic. Benzema was gone, while the litany of striking options certain to be on the market didn't quite seem to fit. And although Mbappe could someday be theirs, there was a real possibility that Los Blancos could have gone into the 2023-24 season without a top-quality striker. Now, they can wait for the one they want, sitting back and watching PSG implode before they snatch their prized asset for far less than he is worth.