Real Madrid free to make another run for Mbappe after disappointment from several years ago

AP , Friday 16 Feb 2024

Real Madrid and Kylian Mbappé may get a second chance to make it work.

Mbappe
Paris Saint-Germain s French forward #07 Kylian Mbappe celebrates the victory at the end of the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Real Sociedad at the Parc des Princes Stadium in Paris, on February 14, 2024. AFP

 

Less than two years after what seemed to be a done deal fell apart, the Spanish powerhouse and the France star could have another opportunity to join forces.

Mbappé told Paris Saint-Germain on Thursday that he will leave the club at the end of the season, opening the way for another run by Madrid to sign one of the world's best soccer players. There could be a bidding war among several clubs to sign the former World Cup winner, but Madrid is widely considered to be in the front seat.

Mbappé's arrival would give Madrid one of the top attacks in soccer, with Mbappé joining Jude Bellingham, Vinícius Júnior and Rodrygo. It would also give Europe’s most successful club a great outlook for the future, as Mbappé would be the oldest of the four at just 25 years old.

Madrid made a big push to sign Mbappé in 2022, with one of its offers rejected by PSG reportedly reaching 200 million euros ($215 million).

Mbappé never hid his dream of one day playing for Madrid, but decided at the time that it was best to continue his “adventure” in Paris.

It would be a much cheaper deal for Madrid now, as Mbappé will be a free agent after seven years with PSG. He informed the French club last year that he would not trigger an extension to the contract he signed in 2022.

Madrid had failed to secure Mbappé even before that debacle a few years ago, when the player visited the club’s facilities at age 14 but instead decided to join Monaco’s youth academy.

The most-recent failure was a big blow to Madrid fans, who felt it was only a matter of time for the transfer to happen. The only doubts then were about where the young Frenchman would fit in the squad. Madrid supporters had even “welcomed” Mbappé by applauding him at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium when he played with PSG in a Champions League match.

The inability to close the deal led to criticism toward Madrid president Florentino Pérez, and even prompted some backlash against Mbappé. Midfielder Federico Valverde said at the time that to be a Madrid player was “a privilege that not everyone can have.”

Mbappé would have arrived to play alongside Karim Benzema, who left a year later and was never replaced by a top-level forward.

Mbappé could be that replacement, finally giving Madrid a star who could possibly be on a similar level to former Portugal great Cristiano Ronaldo.

Mbappé perhaps could also bring the club back to the “galacticos” era that it enjoyed in the 2000s with players such as Luís Figo, Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham and former Brazil great Ronaldo.

It would be an attack that could potentially rival the success of Barcelona’s trio of Neymar, Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez, who helped the Catalan club thrive in the late 2010s.

Mbappé’s arrival could also create a lineup challenge for Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, who has been using a 4-4-2 formation with Vinícius and Rodrygo up front and Bellingham — the England player who is Madrid's leading scorer this season — playing just behind them.

Rodrygo has been playing well but would theoretically be the one giving up his place to Mbappé if the Frenchman is signed. Ancelotti could also sacrifice one of the regular starting midfielders — Eduardo Camavinga, Aurélien Tchouaméni or Toni Kroos — and play with an attacking trio including Mbappé, Vinícius and Rodrygo.

Mbappé, one of only two players in soccer history to score a hat trick in a World Cup final, won five French league titles with PSG but so far failed to lead it to success in the Champions League. Madrid is that tournament's most successful club, with 14 European trophies in total.

And the Spanish club will likely increase its chances of adding to its trophy case if it can finally bring Mbappé.

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