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Can Mbappe or PSG resist Real Madrid’s interest? Unpacking the latest transfer saga

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On Friday evening, after PSG beat Brest (4-2) in Ligue 1 and Kylian Mbappe scored his first goal of the season during another really good performance, the France star didn’t travel to Paris with the rest of the team. Instead, he had a private jet waiting for him and went away to enjoy the weekend off that Mauricio Pochettino gave his squad. Oh, by the way: he didn’t fly to Madrid, either.

On Monday, he was at back at training with his teammates with a smile on his face ready for a big week for the club: on Sunday, Lionel Messi will make his first-team debut for PSG, away at Reims, with Mbappé and Neymar alongside him for the start of a new era in Paris. Or will he?

On Tuesday, the Spanish giants offered €160m for the Paris-born prodigy, and it was swiftly rejected by PSG. The club don’t want him to leave this summer, regardless of the money offered. Sources have told ESPN that even if the giants from LaLiga increase their proposal, it will still be a no from Paris. Then, on Wednesday, PSG’s sporting director, Leonardo, said that Mbappe wants to leave for Real Madrid if the two clubs could agree a transfer.

– Sources: Real Madrid’s Mbappe offer rejected by PSG
– PSG’s Leonardo: Mbappe wants to leave

“Mbappe wants to leave, that seems clear,” Leonardo told French outlet RMC on Wednesday. “If he wants to leave, we are not going to keep him but it will be done under our conditions. We have spoken a lot with Kylian and he always tells us the same thing: he has always promised us that he would never leave the club on a free transfer.”

Sources have told ESPN it would take an offer of around €200m to make PSG consider accepting a deal, which, in light of Harry Kane’s re-commitment to Tottenham over Manchester City, makes this the newest and biggest transfer saga to watch over the final days of the most unpredictable summer window in recent memory.

It’s interesting to go back four years, to August of 2017, and see how different the situation was for Mbappe then. Having starred for Monaco that season, scoring 26 goals in 44 games, he wanted to join PSG. To make sure the move happened, he first displayed his discontent with a visible sulk during the Trophee des Champions, which Monaco lost on July 29… to PSG. Then he started against Toulouse in Monaco’s first game of the new Ligue 1 season, before being sidelined for the rest of August until the transfer was agreed at 6:30 p.m. on August 31.

This is in stark contrast with the vibes we’re seeing so far from Mbappe this summer. He is enjoying his life, his football and his team. He has no problems with Messi’s arrival, either; in fact, it’s the complete opposite. When people close to Mbappe ask him about the Barcelona star joining his team, he can’t hide his amazement. “It is Messi we are talking about!” he always repeats.

Mbappe’s also building an amazing friendship with another new PSG signing, defender Achraf Hakimi, on and off the pitch. They didn’t know each other before, but have hit it off since Hakimi joined on July 6. They’ve formed a strong partnership already on the field and they spend a lot of time off it together, listening to music, playing video games or board games when not training.

Nevertheless, this is football and anything can happen.

The fact that Mbappe only has one year (actually, just 10 months) left on his contract leaves PSG in a vulnerable position. Everyone knows the attraction of Real Madrid in Mbappe’s mind: it’s no secret that he has a dream of wearing the famous white shirt and playing at the Santiago Bernabeu. Since he was 11 years old and first trained there with the youth team, with Los Blancos already keen on signing him then, Mbappe has wanted to go there.

One day, he’ll go there and he will be amazing in LaLiga, just like his idol, Cristiano Ronaldo, was from 2009-2018. But will Mbappe go as early as this week? Or is it more likely in a year’s time?

Sources still insist that PSG doesn’t want to let him leave this summer. The whole club — especially the owner, the Emir of Qatar — also want to preserve that front three of Neymar, Mbappe and Messi even if it is just for one year, especially as they chase that elusive first Champions League title.

There is also some skepticism over the logic of Real Madrid spending close to €200m in 2021, when Mbappe could join them in a year without a massive transfer fee, and so PSG aren’t willing to be flexible in the remaining days of the summer window, even if it means watching Mbappe leave as a free agent in July, 2022.

At the moment, he has not agreed a new deal at the club, nor has he rejected any new offers; the original contract proposal of a five-year deal with a 50 percent pay increase (which would earn him €30m net per year) is still on the table if he wants to sign it. The club would likely accept a shorter extension — two years, for example — if that’s what Mbappe wanted. However, it’s increasingly likely that he will not extend his deal, even if Al-Khelaifi keeps trying.

Could PSG really say no to an improved offer if Real Madrid came back with a revised bid? They repeat they will not do business and that they don’t need the money, even after the Messi deal and even with the eventual resumption of Financial Fair Play after the coronavirus pandemic. However, sources have told ESPN that a new €200m bid could tempt the Parisian hierarchy to allow his transfer to Spain.

Will Real Madrid do it? Can they increase their offer? Right now, the ball is in Florentino Perez’s court. PSG still have the upper hand — especially with Leonardo’s remarks showing that his side would like to handle this on their teams — but Perez can force that hand.

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