PETE JENSON: Kylian Mbappe is ‘imprisoned’ by the richest club in the world… but Real Madrid are convinced the young PSG superstar is plotting his own jailbreak, even if he still has 12 months in prison
- Paris Saint-Germain adamant Kylian Mbappe won’t be sold
- The attacker does not expire at the end of next season with the French club
- Real Madrid think he will reject a new deal and sign for them
- The opinion in Spain is that the 22-year-old is being ‘imprisoned’ by PSG
When Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi declared on Monday that Kylian Mbappe would ‘never be sold’ and ‘never go away for free’, it only reinforced the club’s perception of Spanish football as the ‘golden cage’ of football.
Not long after Al-Khelaifi’s interview appeared on the front page of L’Equipe, Real Madrid supporters had a #freeMbappe campaign trending on social media in Spain in response to the comments.
The 22-year-old, like Neymar before him, is being ‘imprisoned’ by the richest club in the world and there’s nothing Real Madrid, or previously Barcelona, can do about it. That is the Spanish view.
The view from Spain is that Kylian Mbappé is locked up by the richest club in the world
The difference, however, is that Madrid believe their target wants to move to Spain enough not to sign a new contract and leave at large – and for all he says will ‘never’ happen, there would be nothing Al-Khelaifi could do about it. could do to stop that.
Real Madrid’s response on Monday, or at least that of the media closest to the club, has been one of resistance. Privately, however, there is an acceptance now that the 22-year-old will not be coming to the club this summer at least.
Mbappe in 2021 was already a longshot. Carlo Ancelotti’s first press conference back in charge of Real Madrid last week was filled with references to returning loaners and improving players already at the club.
PSG chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi (left) insisted the attacker would never be sold or left for free, but Real Madrid believe Mbappe will reject a new PSG deal and sign for them.
Al-Khelaifi previously stopped Neymar from leaving the French club to rejoin Barcelona
The Italian coach knows that reinforcements will probably not come. Mbappe remains the main target, but the only way it would have been possible this year is if the club’s wage bill had been spaced out and PSG agreed to negotiate.
There are doubts whether enough high earners can be evicted from the club to meet the former requirement, while the latter requires PSG to fold and they never do.
The first part of Monday’s Al-Khelaifi statement confirms what has already been suspected that PSG is not Barcelona. When Barca’s then sporting vice-president Jordi Mestre said in 2017 that Neymar would ‘stay 200 per cent’, it was a vow that lasted as long as it took PSG to pay the breakout clause.
At PSG, Mbappe has no resignation clause and the club’s financial situation is so strong that they won’t have to cash in on him if it looks like he won’t sign a new deal. They can show him the last year of his contract without blinking financially.
The second part of Al-Khelaifi’s statement was taken a little less seriously in Madrid. Whether Mbappé never leaves for free is beyond the president’s control. If he wants to end his current deal, he will become a free agent in 2022.
Both clubs want to recruit Luis Campos, who was Mbappe’s sporting director at Monaco
Real Madrid still believe he has no intention of signing a new contract. PSG are sure he will. The tug-of-war can ultimately be about more than just money.
Mbappe could follow Lionel Messi’s lead and delay a decision until next summer. And just as Barcelona did when Messi brought in Sergio Aguero in hopes it would help him stay, PSG are looking to recruit Luis Campos, who was sporting director at Monaco when Mbappe was there, and who was also sporting director at the previous one. French champion Lille of the season.
Real Madrid also want Campos. They know they’ve lost some of their appeal now that Zinedine Zidane is gone, though they’re convinced his departure wasn’t a deal breaker for Mbappe. Campos still feels like a strategic signing to them that would increase their chances.
Playing the wait-and-see game as both clubs strive to impress him more will only benefit Mbappe.
He knows PSG will be more keen than ever to keep him next summer, just a few months before the World Cup in Qatar. And Real Madrid will be in better shape economically a year from now, after what they hope will be a season of supporters back in the stadium.
Mbappe’s contract with PSG expires in 12 months and Real are confident he will turn down an extension
He is now preparing for the European Championship with world champion France
Madrid still believes it is a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ they sign Mbappe. If that’s the case, PSG looks set to make sure “when” is at least 12 months away.
They continue to frustrate Barca by keeping Neymar away from them and they appear to have jumped the Catalan club in line to sign Georginio Wijnaldum.
Now it’s Real Madrid’s turn to be rejected. The difference – if there is any difference at all – is that Neymar has always opted for the extra money from PSG. Madrid hopes and believes that Mbappe has a football dream that cannot be bought.
He wants to play for Real Madrid, they say. If he continues to refuse to sign with the French club, he will be able to realize that dream in 12 months, regardless of what Al-Khelaifi says.