Dubai: The offer is extremely tempting — a whopping $332 million bid for Kylian Mbappe by Saudi Arabian football club Al Hilal. But how far will Al Hilal be successful in luring the France striker is something we’ve got to wait and watch out for.
Given the current trend on how star players from Europe are choosing money over top clubs, it’s highly likely Mbappe may be hooked by the offer, which could see him join Cristiano Ronaldo, among many other stars in the kingdom. The Saudi Pro League has seen a huge influx of top players ever since Ronaldo chose to make the move to Al Nassr earlier this year.
“The club has given permission to Al Hilal to speak with Mbappe. That’s the request of the letter and that’s been granted,” a PSG source told AFP. “In the group so far that have expressed their interest there are Manchester United, Inter Milan, Barcelona, Tottenham and obviously the Saudi club and Real Madrid.”
Currently, Mbappe is in a contract standoff with Paris Saint-Germain after deciding to not take up the option of a 12-month extension on his deal. Instead, the 2018 World Cup winner plans to walk away as a free agent at the end of the upcoming season, when he is widely expected to join Real Madrid. Reports suggest the Saudi side has offered just a one-year deal, allowing the Frenchman to join Real Madrid for free, next summer.
Left out of Asia tour
Mbappe was left out of PSG’s pre-season squad touring to Japan and South Korea. The club officially revealed the new squad on July 21, revealing the notable absence of the prolific forward. The French club is determined to sell him unless he can be convinced to sign a new contract. But a new deal looks highly unlikely given the souring bond between the 24-year-old Mbappe and PSG.
Earlier, Al Hilal’s attempt to sign Argentine star Lionel Messi didn’t materialise after the World Cup star chose instead to join Inter Miami. The bid for Mbappe would make him the most expensive football player in history, overtaking the $262 million PSG paid for Neymar, who joined from Barcelona in 2017.
After Ronaldo agreed to join Al Nassr in December, Saudi teams have gone into overdrive by targeting leading names from Europe’s top leagues. Real Madrid great and current Ballon d’Or holder Karim Benzema signed for Saudi champion Al Ittihad last month and has been joined by 2018 World Cup winner N’Golo Kante. Al Hilal has already signed central defender Kalidou Koulibaly from Chelsea and Ruben Neves from Wolves this summer.
Roberto Firmino, Kalidou Koulibaly and Marcelo Brozovic are among other big names to head to the lucrative Saudi league, which is making mega-money offers to players in a bid to raise the profile and quality of football in the country. Premier League players like Riyad Mahrez and Jordan Henderson have recently been linked with moves from Manchester City and Liverpool, respectively.
The reported salaries and commercial deals for Ronaldo, Benzema and Kante could earn them a combined figure of nearly $1 billion.
Mbappe has said he plans to see out the final year of his contract, which would leave PSG powerless to prevent him from leaving for nothing next year.
The French champions, who are owned by Qatar Sports Investments, have already seen Messi leave for nothing in return and are determined to earn a fee for a player who is widely considered one of the few capable of taking over from Messi and Ronaldo as soccer’s biggest star.
His omission from PSG’s touring squad in Japan raises the possibility that he could be benched next season if he refuses to sign a contract or agree to leave during this transfer window.
Al Hilal is said to be among a host of clubs that have been alerted to his potential availability, but it is unlikely any could match the bid that has been put forward. There has been an expectation that he would join Madrid, which had a bid of $190 million rejected by PSG in 2021. Madrid is in need of a top class forward after losing Benzema at the end of the season.
However, one can only wait and watch to know more as Mbappe has until July 31 to trigger a one-year extension on his contract. He has been at the club since 2017 after being signed from Monaco in a transfer reportedly worth $190 million.
It’s also interesting to note that Saudi Arabia has in recent years sought to buy its way into international sports. Besides Ronaldo, whose contract reportedly earns him up to $200 million a year, Saudi-funded LIV Golf has shaken up professional golf.
— With inputs from agencies