The most promising talent in world football, the French forward Kylian Mbappe, is of such value to the French champions Paris Saint Germain that they paid more than they would have needed to secure a Picasso or a Rembrandt to sign him; but they came close to losing out on his signature to the Spanish giants Real Madrid, it has been revealed.
A precocious talent from the Parisian Banlieues, Mbappe’s performances in the youthful, title-winning Monaco team of Leonardo Jardim left the biggest wallets in European football opened wide in the summer of 2017.
In the end it would be the Qatari-financed club of the French capital that would secure the scrawl of Mbappe, then just 18 years of age, for a fee of €180m.
The Parc des Princes would prove to be an aptly-named home for the second most expensive footballer in history, who has since won three domestic titles and the World Cup with his national team last summer and outshone the only player to ever demand a higher fee than him, his teammate the Brazilian forward Neymar.
It all could have been different for him, and them, though, according to reports from Der Spiegel this morning. The German outlet has been working in collaboration with other international media groups to publish the key stories contained in documents given to them by Football Leaks, the game’s self-avowed whistleblower.
They claim that Madrid, whose president Florentino Perez has publically fawned over Mbappe, had agreed to pay the same €180m fee that PSG eventually secured his prized signature with that summer.
The youngster has long idolised the then Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo, as evidenced by the widely-viewed poster of a smiling Mbappe sitting on his boyhood bed with a poster of the Portuguese star looming behind him on the wall.
But the Merengues’ squad was well-stocked with striking talent at that time and his father Wilfried, a de-facto agent to his son, was, it’s claimed, “worried about possibly unbeatable competition up front”.
So it wasn’t to be, and the Parisians got there man that August.
The presence of the superagent Jorge Mendes on the contract - a presence that will secure him at least €7.25m in fees - that was agreed between the two parties is another kernel of intriguing information contained in today’s reports.
Mbappe does not have an agent, as such, and so his name on the document is something of a mystery. Der Spiegel claims that some of the information at their hands “hint a conclusion” that he was brought in into proceedings to whip up speculation about a potential move to Madrid and drive his value up yet further.
Neither Mbappe or his club have responded to requests for comments, it’s reported.