Real Madrid: Did Kylian Mbappe’s performance help or hurt their chances?

PSG, Kylian Mbappe (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
PSG, Kylian Mbappe (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images) /

There are two players whom Real Madrid have identified as potentially “galactic” additions in the 2021 summer transfer market, Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe. But we all know that Mbappe is the man Florentino Perez covets signing the most, as has been the case for years. On Tuesday night at the Camp Nou, Mbappe delivered a clinical performance for the ages.

With Neymar and Angel Di Maria out, the onus was on Mbappe to produce in a head-to-head matchup. And goodness, did he deliver. In a performance that was clinical, ruthless, and absolutely genius, Mbappe accomplished the rare feat of a hat trick at the vaunted La Liga venue.

His first and third goals were sublime – a tricky dribble with a hard-hitting, left-footed finish and then a first-time peach of a curler. And if that weren’t enough, he could’ve added an assist had Mauro Icardi took the chance on, instead of going for a not-so-clever flick.

Mbappe’s performance in a White Kit at the Camp Nou had Real Madrid fans buzzing about him possibly doing the same, albeit in the Royal White kit. He has long been the dream target for Madridistas, who likely share the same zeal as Perez when it comes to acquiring this game-changing signing.

Kylian Mbappe’s price will rise further

The French international has long been the world’s most valuable player in the transfer market. Coming into this match, Cuatro reported that if PSG were knocked out of the competition in the Round of 16 against Barcelona, Mbappe would not renew. Barring another “remontada”, this report is out the window. PSG are in front by a three-goal margin with four away goals.

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MARCA’s Juan Ignacio Garcia-Ochoa brings up another point in his opinion column following the Champions League game, and it’s an incredibly important one for Madridistas to consider. He wonders if Mbappe’s hat-trick at the Camp Nou could hurt Real’s chances, noting two things. Firstly, that PSG have no reason to pick Lionel Messi over Mbappe. And secondly, Mbappe’s price just went up.

It most certainly did. Both PSG and Mbappe have known that the 22-year-old’s value will only rise over time. It’s why PSG have been so adamant on extending him now, since this player’s salary demands will only rise as his profile does. And Mbappe has rejected an extension in order to keep his options open. He can either get a bigger contract from PSG, or he can get what he wants in the form of a new contract AND project with the legendary Real Madrid.

So on the surface, Mbappe’s stock rising does seem to hurt Real. They were already going to have issues affording both his salary and PSG’s transfer demands. Real may even have to trade a valuable player for the star forward.

The key issue for Real Madrid is a matter of Kylian Mbappe’s choice

But I actually don’t think Mbappe’s incredible, defining hat-trick performance at the Camp Nou hurts Real’s chances. That’s even while acknowledging the increased difficulty of the operation financially. Signing Mbappe was always going to be a Herculean task, though. The real key issue to me, is what does Mbappe want?

PSG won’t hold Mbappe against his will. They can’t. He will be a free agent after the 2021-2022 season, so he will either sign their lucrative contract or leave Paris in 2022 without a move to the White House. The fear has been that he won’t wait for a free transfer to materialize anyway and will only move in 2021 or stay with PSG and Mauricio Pochettino.

That fear does not change with this performance. Yes, this performance makes him more expensive to Real Madrid, but by how much? Maybe a magnitude of 20 million euros, but it surely cannot be that much more, right?

At the end of the day, the questions can only be answered by Mbappe, specifically this one: Does Mbappe want to be the superstar of a new project and lead Real Madrid to glory like his idol Cristiano Ronaldo once did, or does he want to lead his childhood city of Paris to glory?

Which project appeals to him the most? Does he prefer continuity or a new challenge?

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Real Madrid fans have Mbappe on their minds after the hat-trick, and it is natural to fear the worst with him. But remember, he has waited to sign his deal. That is partially a calculated means of keeping his options open and the possibility of reaping the rewards of betting on his ability to improve his stock. It is also a means of keeping the door to Madrid open. Even after this performance, the door remains open for Perez.