Catalan daily Sport yesterday revealed that, with Antoine Griezmann’s prospects of joining Barcelona fading, Paris Saint-Germain are now in pole position to sign the forward, who has announced he is to leave Atlético Madrid this summer.
Griezmann at PSG would push Mbappé towards Real Madrid
With France’s other chief footballing star in their ranks, the Parisians might just be persuaded to part with Mbappé, who recently raised eyebrows with comments that cast doubt on his future at the Ligue 1 champions: “Maybe it’s the time to take on more responsibilities,” the 20-year-old declared late last month. “Maybe at PSG, of course, or maybe elsewhere with a new project.”
Mbappé’s relationship with PSG strike partner Neymar has grown increasingly tense in recent months, with the Frenchman unhappy with his colleague’s prima donna-like antics, the preferential treatment he is given by PSG president Nasser Al Khelaifi, and the significantly higher wage that he pockets. Indeed, the Brazilian earns a full 27 million euros more than the 10 million paid to Mbappé, who Madrid would be in a position to hand a much improved salary.
It’s a state of affairs that has contributed to the PSG dressing room splitting down the middle into two factions. What’s more, the French capital club’s expected appointment of Neymar’s countryman Leonardo in place of sporting director Antero Henrique is a move that further weakens Mbappé’s position.
That Mbappé wants to play for Madrid is without question. It is something that ex-PSG boss Unai Emery confirmed last month, telling an interview about the club’s efforts to dissuade the player from seeking a switch to Spain in 2018. “Among everybody we convinced him about the project in France and made him stay – we had to set money over the table,” Emery said, adding: “He wanted Madrid eyes closed.” Now, Griezmann could help to make that happen…
Pérez was planning to sign Mbappé in two years’ time…
A summer Mbappé arrival would in fact be ahead of schedule. In his pursuit of the striker, Madrid chief Florentino Pérez had devised a strategy similar to that used to sign Eden Hazard – a two-year plan that saw the Belgian stall on a Chelsea renewal and, in the process, allow Pérez to buy him for a relatively affordable fee. With Mbappé’s deal expiring in 2023, there has been confidence at Madrid that PSG would sell in 2021 if they felt he was unlikely to extend. Should Mbappé agree improved PSG terms, meanwhile, Madrid want him to negotiate a release clause– the lack of which has proved a major obstacle towards signing Neymar.
As has been revealed in documents uncovered by Football Leaks and published by Der Spiegel, Madrid were close to signing Mbappé two years ago, having agreed a fee of 180m euros plus add-ons with Monaco at the end of the 2016/17 season. However, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema all still among the LaLiga giants’ striking options at the time, Mbappé was not sure of his chances of earning a regular place in the team… and chose PSG instead.