Football’s biggest transfer saga has taken a massive twist with a bombshell report claiming Real Madrid has pulled out of the race for French superstar Kylian Mbappe.
The 24-year-old, who finished third in the voting for the Ballon d’Or – football’s highest individual honour – has long been linked with a move to the Santiago Bernabeau.
But CadenaSER reports that the Spanish giants have now ruled out a bid for the talismanic Paris Saint-Germain forward at the end of the season – even if he is available on a free transfer.
That would put Premier League clubs on red alert over a bombshell transfer swoop for one of the world’s finest players.
Mbappe has been Madrid’s number one transfer target for the last two seasons, and appeared close to a move in 2022 and again this year.
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The Paris star had a monumental fallout with the French champions in the off-season after refusing to sign a contract extension on his current deal, which expires at the end of the present season and would see PSG lose the star player in June 2024 without receiving a transfer fee.
Mbappe’s refusal to extend his contract was widely seen as the player pushing for a move to Madrid. Indeed, PSG insiders revealed that the club believed he already had an agreement in place to move to the Spanish club on a free transfer in 2024.
PSG responded by dropping him from all first-team duties – forcing him to train with other unwanted players or juniors, leaving him out of the pre-season trip to Japan, and exiling him from the senior squad’s dressing room. He was also removed from the list of first-team players on the club website and banners featuring his face taken down from the exterior of the stadium.
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They were suddenly willing to sell their star man (rather than lose him for free 12 months later) – and even accepted a world-record fee of £259m from Saudi Arabian club Al-Hilal. Mbappe rejected that move, seemingly hoping Madrid would move up their timeline and sign him immediately.
Madrid were unwilling to make a move – though they had a figure around £100 million set aside – unless the player publicly declared his intention to leave PSG for Madrid.
Mbappe refused, and his icy standoff with PSG thawed when Neymar left for Saudi Arabia and Mbappe’s good friend Ousmane Dembele signed from Barcelona.
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Madrid – and particularly manager Carlo Ancelotti – were reportedly furious at what they viewed as a backflip from the French superstar.
Nevertheless, Mbappe moving to Madrid in 2024 was viewed as a near-certainty.
The player was expected to sign a one-year contract extension with PSG with a guarantee that he would be sold in 2024. Other reports stated that Mbappe would not sign a new contract, but would instead waive a massive loyalty bonus included in his PSG contract.
90min claimed that Mbappe would give up an €80 million (£68m) bonus he is owed over the course of the season (before tax, that would be a saving of €100m (£85m) for PSG).
In the past fortnight, there were widespread reports that Madrid were already in negotiations over a contract with Mbappe.
But Madrid shut down those reports in a strongly-worded statement that read: “Given information in the media about negotiations between the player Kylian Mbappe and our club, Real Madrid state that this information is categorically false. Negotiations have not taken place with a player who belongs to PSG.”
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And today, a bombshell report from CadenaSER claimed that Madrid have totally ruled out a move for Mbappe due to three main reasons.
The first is Mbappe’s massive wage demands, with the Frenchman demanding a reported salary of €20 million per year – more than double the €9m per season that Madrid’s new star signing Jude Bellingham earns (per the report).
With Mbappe turning 25 next month, he would also be a departure from their transfer policy that priorities younger signings.
That includes an already-finalised deal for Brazil’s superstar teenager Endrick, who will sign in June 2024 for a reported transfer fee of 35 million euros plus another 25 million euros in add-ons.
Look at the major transfers Real Madrid has landed recently: 20-year-old Jude Bellingham and 19-year-old Arda Guler this transfer window, Aurelien Tchouameni (then 22) last year, and Eduardo Camavinga (then 18) the season before.
Mbappe – who turn 26 midway through next season – would be a major departure from a clear long-term squad-building approach.
The third reason that Madrid has walked away from a move, per CadenaSER, is that signing Mbappe would cause division with fans and inside the club, given the controversy and drama that has surrounded his drawn-out transfer saga – particularly his perceived backflips on a move to Madrid in both 2022 and this recently-closed transfer window.
While Mbappe’s frosty relationship with the PSG hierarchy has thawed in recent months, for the star to commit his long-term future to the Parisians would still come as a major shock.
His stats this season are typically outstanding: 10 goals and an assist in 10 league games so far, on the back of a stellar 2022 World Cup showing as he led France to the final, where he scored a hat-trick in the defeat to then-PSG-teammate Lionel Messi’s Argentina.
It seems likely Mbappe will still look for a fresh challenge at season’s end – and Premier League clubs are now in pole position to swoop.
According to Italian outlet La Gazzetta dello Sport, Chelsea and Liverpool are keenly interested. Cashed-up Chelsea have embarked on a remarkable spending spree in the last year but could finance a move by offloading talent, while Liverpool could look to cash in on Mohamed Salah, who is a top target of Saudi clubs and would fetch a hefty transfer fee.
The biggest issue will be Mbappe’s monster wage demands, with only Saudi Pro League teams able to comfortably match his desired salary given they operate without financial fair play restrictions.
With Barcelona strapped for cash and unlikely to make an attempt for his services given his Madrid links, and Bayern Munich having gone all-out to sign Harry Kane, it looks like Premier League heavyweights are the most likely destination – unless Mbappe pulls yet another U-turn and remains at PSG after all.
While the Madrid transfer saga appears to be over, Mbappe’s future will almost certainly be one of the biggest storylines of the season and the transfer window that follows.