Football: Real made to wait for Mbappe as PSG decide they don't need the money

Real are understood to have made two bids for Kylian Mbappe last week. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - Paris Saint-Germain got Lionel Messi but that has somehow turned out not to be the most remarkable moment of the transfer window for them.

There can hardly be a bigger statement from the Qatar-owned club than turning their noses up at an offer understood to be worth €180 million (S$286 million) from Real Madrid for Kylian Mbappe with the France striker in the final year of his contract.

Real are understood to have made two bids for Mbappe last week - and there were reports on Tuesday they were prepared to go to €200 million - but PSG decided they would rather not sell, and risk losing the France forward for free at the end of the season.

"He is one of the best, one of the most important players in the world today and for him to be with us is a gift," said PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino at the weekend.

Rejecting the money is an extraordinary decision from a club who are hardly immune to the economic impact of the pandemic, with losses of €124.9 million in the curtailed 2019/20 campaign likely to be dwarfed when the accounts for last season are filed.

Mbappe will be free to negotiate a pre-contract agreement with Real, or anyone else, in January, and PSG will not be entitled to any fee.

Yet the Qataris have already shown that money is no object with their past purchases of Mbappe and of Neymar, for a world-record €222 million, in 2017.

When Messi became available a month ago, they pounced without worrying about the impact his salary might have on their finances.

Now they will keep Mbappe to complete a dream attacking line-up they hope will deliver a first Champions League for PSG and all the prestige that brings in the year Qatar hosts the World Cup.

The French giants also added Gianluigi Donnarumma, Sergio Ramos, Georginio Wijnaldum and Achraf Hakimi in a remarkable recruitment drive.

On Tuesday they added Portuguese international Nuno Mendes on loan from Sporting Lisbon.

Their rivals among Europe's traditional elite cry foul but for now PSG cannot be stopped.

"State-owned clubs are as dangerous for football's ecosystem as the Super League was," tweeted La Liga president Javier Tebas.

"Covid losses of more than 300m, TV revenue in France down 40 percent, and yet more than 500m in salaries? Unsustainable."

Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules have been relaxed to help clubs absorb losses incurred during the pandemic. PSG president Nasser al-Khelaifi wields enormous influence with his seat on the Uefa Executive Committee and his role as president of the European Club Association.

"We always follow the FFP regulations from day one that we started," Khelaifi said when asked about his club's financial position on the day Messi was unveiled.

Whether Mbappe extends his contract or leaves for free remains to be seen, but judging by his demeanour in scoring twice against Reims last weekend, he seems happy in Paris for now.

Real, meanwhile, made their intentions clear. Their focus now must be on securing his signature for next season, by which time Karim Benzema will be 34, and Luka Modric will be nearly 37.

In the meantime the arrival of Mbappe's compatriot Eduardo Camavinga is an exciting one for Madrid fans.

Camavinga, like Mbappe, was in the final year of his contract at Rennes but Real paid a reported €31 million, plus €9 million more in bonuses, for the 18-year-old midfielder.

Having signed a six-year deal, he must be given time to fulfil his enormous potential.

Real paid a reported €31 million, plus €9 million more in bonuses, for Eduardo Camavinga. PHOTO: AFP

Real at least look in far better shape than their great rivals Barcelona, who were forced to let go of Messi as they drown in debts of over €1 billion.

Their only signings this summer have been free agents Memphis Depay, Eric Garcia and Sergio Aguero.

On Tuesday they held a fire sale of young players - Emerson Royal to Tottenham Hotspur, Ilaix Moriba to RB Leipzig - in a desperate attempt to raise funds.

When Messi became available a month ago, PSG pounced without worrying about the impact his salary might have on their finances. PHOTO: AFP

And then it emerged they were prepared to allow Antoine Griezmann, the French forward whose planned departure was originally part of the failed attempt to hold on to Messi, to return to Atletico Madrid on loan.

In comparison, Real missing out on Mbappe, if just for a year, looks like no big deal.

But PSG have won this transfer window, and can now target the Champions League.

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