Not too long ago, spending €100 million in one transfer window was considered ‘breaking the bank’ but that’s around about the going rate for just one world class player in today’s market.
In fact, the likes of Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid could be set to dwarf that nine-figure mark with a signing each.
The Ligue 1 champions have made an audacious approach for Neymar, willing to trigger his €220 million release clause to wrestle him away from Barcelona.
Meanwhile, Real Madrid have reportedly placed a bid of €180 million for AS Monaco’s 18-year-old sensation Kylian Mbappe.
If both transfers were to go through, who would be getting the better deal?
Here’s an in-depth analysis of each proposed transfer.
NEYMAR TO PSG
HOW HE WOULD FIT IN
One of the best things about joining PSG in terms of his duties on the pitch, is that his role would remain largely the same. Neymar would once again be part of an attacking triumvirate in an almost identical 4-3-3 system to the one Barcelona employ.
The Brazilian would occupy his favoured left-wing position with Edinson Cavani leading the line as his Uruguayan team-mate Luis Suarez does for Barcelona and Angel Di Maria cutting in from the right side, similar to his compatriot from Camp Nou, Lionel Messi.
The only real difference as far as Neymar is concerned is that his role would be far more prominent with the onus which normally rests on Messi at Barcelona, shifting onto him as the main man in Paris.
In Marco Verratti, Neymar would benefit from linking up with the very same playmaker the Catalans are after in order to replace an aging Andres Iniesta while Blaise Matuidi provides the industry and bursts forward that Ivan Rakitic prides himself on and Adrian Rabiot sweeping up behind the duo and focusing on distribution.
FUTURE AT THE CLUB
PSG will reportedly offer Neymar a six-year deal, keeping him at the club until the age of 31. It would be quite the commitment, even if he doesn’t fulfill the entirety of his contract. There’s plenty of scope for improvement at the club in their quest for their first Champions League crown but they do have a group of young stars in their squad.
Neymar’s compatriot and friend Lucas Moura seems like he’s been around for ages, much like Verratti, but both players are only 24. A few more players following within that age bracket are Jese (24), Julian Draxler (23) and Adrian Rabiot (22).
PSG will want to keep that core group of players together to usher in the next era, with Neymar at the forefront of it. The likes of Matuidi and Di Maria won’t be around forever but there are players lined up to replace them.
Neymar could well go on to be the face of PSG’s most successful era, laden with European honours.
The biggest concern for Neymar would be the fact that PSG operate in a far weaker league than La Liga. One of his reasons to move away from Barcelona is the opportunity step out of Messi’s shadow and lay a claim to win his first Ballon d’Or.
While winning the Champions League and a good display with Brazil in the World Cup may well get him there, a lot would ride on those competitions as securing the Ligue 1 title may not carry as much weight, nor would the goals he piles up in the process.
A player of Neymar’s calibre should be testing himself against the best week in and week out. He will have to ask himself if the French league is the standard he should be playing at.
WILL IT HAPPEN?
It’s becoming harder and harder to brush this one off despite Barcelona’s resistance to PSG’s approach. The fact is, the player himself hasn’t come out and denied the reports when he so easily could.
Given that he only signed a new deal with the Catalans last year, he has no angle to work so his silence is suspicious. Despite the vulgar sums of money being thrown about this summer, Paul Pogba’s world record fee of £89 million from last year still reigns supreme. Who better to smash it than Neymar?
Rating – 7/10
The French league has been on it’s way up. The likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic helped raise its status. Neymar could be the star they need to move on to the next level. He would thrive in the spotlight. It’s a monstrous fee but the Brazilian is hugely marketable and PSG have deep pockets.
MBAPPE TO REAL MADRID
HOW HE WOULD FIT IN
How does an 18-year-old, with one season under his belt, show up at arguably the biggest club in the world, in sheer size and expectation, and simply ‘fit in’?
It’s a difficult one, but then again, a certain Wayne Rooney did just that when he arrived at Manchester United 13 years ago, instantly not only establishing himself in the first team but proving to be one of its key players.
Mbappe is capable of doing the same but tactically, his task is far more complex than Neymar’s. First of all, he would be moving to a league that’s a few notches higher in terms of standard.
If Zinedine Zidane decides to stick with the 4-4-2 formation that served Madrid so well towards the end of last season, he’ll have the unenviable task of competing with Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema for a place in the team.
However, it would be a system that he’s more accustomed to and would most likely give the Portuguese star a rest in certain games, operating as a roaming forward playing off Benzema like he did alongside Radamel Falcao last season.
Meanwhile, a 4-3-3 would need him to operate on either flank, challenging Isco, Marco Asensio or Gareth Bale on the right and occasionally relieving Ronaldo on the left. It may take some getting used to but he did feature in a wide role at Monaco on a few occasions albeit usually from the bench.
FUTURE AT THE CLUB
Bale has been struggling to make an impact of late due to his injury record while Ronaldo and Benzema are pushing on. Spots will definitely open up in the next couple of years and Mbappe will be primed to take centre stage along with Asensio and perhaps even Vinicius Junior breaking through, if all goes to plan.
The Frenchman already fits the bill as a marquee player and could go easily become a global brand at Madrid, something a club of suck marketing muscle would certainly encourage. It also helps that he’s known to be a Madrid fan and idolises Ronaldo.
If he were to settle at the Bernabeu, it would make for a perfect passing-the-baton scenario in two or three years’ time.
Too much too soon? If Mbappe is pragmatic – or as pragmatic as a teenager can be anyway – he’ll stay put, hone his skills, gather a little more experience and wait for his dream move.
There’s always the risk of a young player bursting onto the scene and then suffering second season syndrome. A talent like Mbappe should be afforded a dip in form but at a club like Madrid, the environment can be ruthless. A poor start there could break him or at least set him back.
WILL IT HAPPEN?
Monaco have swiftly come out and denied that a deal for Mbappe has been agreed with Madrid, according to Sky Sports. However, having gotten rid of Alvaro Morata and Danilo for a combined fee of around €110m, that money will be burning a hole in Madrid’s pocket.
Given that they’ve also loaned James Rodriguez to Bayern Munich for two seasons, they are a bit short in attack. If Mbappe leaves Monaco, whether this summer or in the future, it’s hard to see him end up anywhere other than Madrid.
The advantage of signing him this summer for the Spanis giants though is having the opportunity to ease him into a starring role while the likes of Ronaldo and Benzema are still able to shoulder the bulk of the responsibility.
Rating – 8/10
Mbappe is very much a Madrid kind of player and it’s hard to imagine him not being a hit in the Spanish capital. At only 18, he has seven years on Neymar and is already doing it in Europe. Despite lacking the experience the Brazilian boasts, the Monaco forward could prove to be a better investment in the long run.