Would Real Madrid miss out on Kylian Mbappe if they lose to PSG?

PSG, Kylian Mbappe (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)
PSG, Kylian Mbappe (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images) /

In less than one week, Real Madrid will face PSG in the first leg of the Champions League Round of 16. This is the biggest matchup of the first round of games in the knockout stages. There are so many marquee names on both sides, including a number of former Madrid players within the PSG ranks. But it is a potential future Madrid player, Kylian Mbappe, who is taking up most of the spotlight – and for good reason.

Aside from the fact that Mbappe is having an outrageous season, adding another sensational gaol to his tally in the weekend’s blowout win over last season’s Ligue 1 champions Lille, the Frenchman has more than just flirted with Real Madrid. He was so close to making his dream switch to the Spanish capital, embarking on the next adventure in his already-illustrious career, this summer. However, PSG decided to turn down 200 million euros from Florentino Perez, creating a situation where he can indeed move to Madrid for free in the summer.

To this point, Mbappe has avoided signing a pre-contract with Real Madrid and is careful not to make any messages towards the Santiago Bernabeu. Perhaps he would have been more upfront if Real and PSG did not draw each other in the re-drawn Champions League knockouts, but we also know Mbappe was very respectful to PSG in the summer – even when they did not show the same grace as an organization. 

It is that love for the city of Paris that has kept Mbappe from making strong statements about his future, and it is that same love that keeps giving Qatar hope he will remain a PSG player through the 2022 World Cup. They still have this belief that they can keep Mbappe if they 1) pay him and 2) prove they have the best sporting project.

PSG, Kylian Mbappe
PSG, Kylian Mbappe (Photo by John Berry/Getty Images) /

PSG believe beating Real Madrid will help them keep Kylian Mbappe

Further, Rubin Canizares of ABC Deportes writes that PSG think Kylian Mbappe’s chances of extending with them will increase markedly if the Ligue 1 giants were to eliminate Real Madrid from the Champions League. They feel that they already have 1) covered. They can pay Mbappe more than Real can. And by knocking out Madrid, PSG believe they will then prove that they are the better side for sporting success – and thus Mbappe’s legacy – than Madrid.

But I have a hard time believing Mbappe sees it that way. Not that it is impossible for this logic to hold true and certainly not that I know what Mbappe is thinking. However, Mbappe was adamant about leaving this past summer, and he has never wavered over the years no matter how much money PSG have thrown at him. So the idea of him going for more money is automatically out of the equation. Beyond that, we don’t know all the money Mbappe stands to gain from moving to Madrid. Perez and the club have the resources to pay Mbappe sufficiently, and none of this accounts for endorsement money, which usually outweighs salaries paid by clubs.

Of course, in the context of PSG vs. Real Madrid in the Champions League knockouts, it is the sporting factor that means more. Mbappe still wanted to leave PSG even though the club signed Lionel Messi, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Achraf Hakimi, Sergio Ramos, Nuno Mendes, and Georginio Wijnaldum in an active transfer window that was basically a giant middle finger to Financial Fair Play.

For Mbappe, the “sporting project” is more about doing what his idol Cristiano Ronaldo did and being the top star at a club with a footballing legacy. Mbappe wants to write his own chapter out of the shadow of Qatar, Messi, Neymar, and the bureaucracy that comes with PSG. And maybe he has seen how Neymar’s career has faltered in Paris, not wanting to become a blip on the radar for the next decade at a club that only has money going for it.

Real Madrid
Real Madrid (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images) /

Real Madrid will be more worried about advancing in the Champions League

Real Madrid should not worry much about the threat of Mbappe changing his mind. What they should be more worried about is the agony of defeat and the inability to progress in a competition they value more than any other. The Champions League means everything to Madrid, regardless of who their first opponent is. A loss to PSG, though, would be personally humiliating. It shouldn’t change Mbappe’s plans, because his principles for leaving still seem clear.

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Conversely, this transitioning Real Madrid defeating a PSG that rejected 200 million euros for Mbappe after making a handful of major summer signings would be quite the statement. That isn’t the main incentive for winning, but it would be a sweetener for Los Blancos. So in defeat, Real most likely would not lose ground in signing Mbappe. Especially if two important starters, Karim Benzema and Ferland Mendy, cannot play. However, by beating PSG, they could effectively seal their biggest signing since Cristiano Ronaldo.