Mbappe’s transfer story has become tiresome for many

Sport

Finally, now, everybody can move on, can’t they? Kylian Mbappe informed Paris Saint-Germain that he will leave the club at the end of the season. But he’s been here before, we’ve been here before, so is this finally it?

Mbappe is the best player in the world, but his story has become tiresome for many. It is no secret that he is keen to play for Real Madrid, nor is it that he has been frustrated with life in Paris. The constant ‘will he, won’t he’ mystery that surrounds Mbappe jars directly with the obvious nature of his path.

In truth, he should have moved to the Santiago Bernabeu in 2022; the setting was incredibly similar to now, PSG’s grip on Mbappe was loose, he was visibly unsettled, but signed a new contract when the club offered him astronomical wages and gave him a greater status within the squad. It felt like putting a plaster on an axe wound; a year later, he was ostracised from the squad after again insintuating he would leave Paris when his contract expired, this summer. That followed a proposed world record £259m move to Saudi Arabia. Mbappe rejected it.

An uneasy truce followed and now here we are, preparing finally for Mbappe to move on. On the rare occasion that a player of his ilk becomes a free agent as he will in June, every top club in the world should be queuing up to battle for his signature, and everybody will want a chance. But the new man driving the football operations at Manchester United, Sir Dave Brailsford, summed up the situation when asked by a fan if he would try to bring Mbappe to Old Trafford. He simply replied, with a smile, saying: “He’s got his heart set on Real Madrid, hasn’t he?”

We appear to be closing in on the end of the saga that should never have been a saga at all. Real Madrid luring the best talent around is nothing new, and it will the crowning moment for president Florentino Perez’s change of transfer policy. Understanding he cannot match English clubs for transfer fees, so Madrid often pounce on younger players and develop them, while encouraging the bigger names to run their contracts down so they can compete on wages. Mbappe would showcase that Madrid is still where all the top players want to be, despite the obvious pull of the Premier League.

But for all of the talk that the deal being a certainty, how Mbappe would slot in at Madrid. He plays on the left traditionally, which is Vinicius Junior’s position, and has not been comfortable through the middle. Joselu is Carlo Ancelotti’s preferred choice as a number 9, and his position isn’t long term, and but the impact of Jude Bellingham this season has been predicated on him taking up a lot of positions in the attacking third. Mbappe’s arrival, notwithstanding his desire for a leadership role, could certainly create some headaches. But they are the headaches every club in the world would love to have.

Having such a dominant personality could also cause friction within the Madrid squad. Although glamour signings are nothing new, and Ancelotti has built his reputation on elite man-management, the humble togetherness of the team has been a common theme in recent years.

PSG can rebuild after Mbappe goes. His talent is obvious, his impact on the team is too, and it will take time and careful planning for the next stage. But if Luis Enrique can build a team with a harmonious work ethic, it would be something not seen at the club for years. The age of superstar teams may well be over after this; no player should yield the sort of power Mbappe has had at PSG. And yet, nobody can argue he justifies the hype with his talent.

Whatever happens next for Mbappe, everybody should be be relieved that this most tedious chapter is over.

Author: Mark Hayes