A World Cup winner at age 19, the second teenager – after Pelé – to score in a World Cup final, and the Ligue 1 top scorer for four consecutive seasons, Mbappé is a single generation footballer.
The 23-year-old star striker has long been associated with Real Madrid. He was invited to the Spanish club’s academy as an 11-year-old, had posters of Real’s Cristiano Ronaldo on the walls of his nursery and had said last year that he wanted to join the now 14-times European Cup winners.
The Spanish giants made a $188 million bid for Mbappe in August. The deal was almost done and the striker even admitted that he wanted to leave PSG.
“I was honest. I gave a feeling, I gave what I have in my heart,” Mbappe told DailyExpertNews’s Becky Anderson in December.
So when the Frenchman extended his contract with PSG instead of signing with Los Merengues, it was a shock to say the least.
‘The project is to always win’
Mbappe explained his decision to stay in Paris by repeatedly referring to the “project” being built at PSG.
Despite using seemingly unlimited cash reserves, PSG have so far failed to win a Champions League title and have the unfortunate gift of imploding in the knockout stages.
Now it looks like the club is changing its approach.
“If I change all the things I want to change in the club,” Mbappe said before pausing and recalibrating. “If the club grows up with me, if I can write the history of the club together with the Champions League or also individually, I will be happy with this contract.
“When they showed me this project, I thought, okay, it’s interesting. And I want to try it. I want to try it again,” he said.
Following Mbappé’s decision to stay, other changes appear to be on the way at the Parc des Princes.
“A lot is definitely going to change,” club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi told DailyExpertNews’s Amanda Davies.
“We want to create a new era of Paris Saint-Germain, a new project, fresh air. I think it is very important that everyone is motivated again.”
However, in a press conference announcing his contract extension, Mbappe denied that his new contract would give him more influence on or off the pitch.
“As for the project here, you don’t need any special responsibility to invest,” he told reporters.
Macron gave me good advice
Mbappé was born and raised in Bondy, a suburb of Paris 11 kilometers from the city center and, apart from playing for Monaco for two years, has lived all his life in the French capital.
“He’s a Parisian. He’s a Frenchman. He loves his country. He loves his club,” Al-Khelaifi told DailyExpertNews. “So he plays for the club for five years [and] there is a relationship. There is love between him, the club, the fans and his country.”
Murals dedicated to him are scattered throughout his former neighborhood, where he has become a hero to young footballers there.
On the side of a building is a painting of a young Mbappé sleeping and dreaming about representing France. “Love your dream and he will love you too,” reads a small caption.
As the figurehead of the French team, from a banlieue north of Paris, Mbappé’s worth extends beyond just his achievements on the pitch, but also in the political arena.
On the television program Chez Jordan, the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, exuberantly praised the young striker.
“Above all, I think that next to football and results, he is so important, so useful to give hope to our young people… That’s why I want him to stay,” she said.
Even French President Emmanuel Macron intervened to beg the young star to stay at PSG and in France.
“He gave me good advice,” said Mbappe, “but with all the respect I have for him, it was my decision. I took this advice but then I made my decision.”
“I’m staying and I want to do my best for the history of the club and my country.”
New money against old money
Qatar Sports Investments (QSi) — the owner of PSG — is a subsidiary of Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), Qatar’s state-run sovereign wealth fund.
Since the Qatari group – led by the emir of Qatar himself – took control of PSG in 2011, the club has spent an estimated $1.5 billion on transfers, won Ligue 1 10 times, even if the Champions League title has proved elusive.
Just six months before Qatar hosts the World Cup, keeping the likely star of that tournament at the emir’s club is seen as a massive coup d’état.
According to DailyExpertNews, Real Madrid offered Mbappé a signing bonus of nearly $140 million, a net annual salary of more than $26 million and full control over his image rights.
Backed by huge reserves of state money, PSG responded with a similar signing fee but a much higher annual salary of $65 million, according to Sky Sports.
It marked a rare occasion when Real Madrid could not match a rival’s financial offer, and a victory for the ‘new money’ clubs funded by the deep pockets of the nation-states over the more established ‘legacy’ clubs with a vast history behind it. †
“What PSG are doing by renewing with Mbappe for a huge sum (who knows where and how it will be paid) after announcing losses of €700million in recent seasons and having a payroll of €600million is an insult for football. Al-Khelafi is as dangerous as the Super League,” La Liga president Javier Tebas tweeted.
Tebas’s tweet echoed the views of his organization which issued an incendiary statement when it became clear that Mbappé would remain in France.
“La Liga will file a complaint against PSG with UEFA, the French Administrative Court and the tax authorities and the European Union authorities to continue to defend the economic ecosystem of European football and its sustainability,” the statement said.
“We know we’re doing everything legally, everything the right way,” Al-Khelaifi told DailyExpertNews. “And we are very happy. No one will destroy our celebration of Kylian Mbappe’s re-signing.”