It wasn't supposed to be like this for Real Madrid; they were going to wait patiently for Kylian Mbappe to be exiled this summer, readying themselves for a last-minute bid, coaxing the France captain to the Santiago Bernabeu at a cut price. Mbappe, they assumed, would diligently wait for his long-anticipated Madrid move.
Instead, the striker has tentatively agreed to stay in Paris for at least one more year. The specifics of his deal are clouded, but it seems that the winger will make some kind of concession in order to stick around — and ensure that PSG will get an agreeable fee for him when he inevitably leaves next summer. This is a very kind thing for a player who has spent six years holding his club hostage.
Meanwhile, Madrid are left with a conundrum. Although they scored twice against Athletic Club to open their season, chances came at a premium. They were, as perhaps expected, worryingly lacking a central striking presence. It always figured that Mbappe would fill that void for the 2023-24 season. But now, Madrid are left with 33-year-old Joselu as their sole striking option — which hardly inspires confidence for a side hoping to compete for the league title.
So, Madrid might have to make a foray into the transfer market. And who to get? It's a suddenly dwindling talent pool, with some of the big names already making moves. Still, there are some options out there. GOAL takes a look at who Madrid might be able to sign with Mbappe out of the question...