Real Madrid favourites, but where else could Kylian Mbappe go if he leaves PSG?

Matt Jones 20/05/2019
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Kylian Mbappe has put football fans – well Real Madrid ones, anyway – on high alert after he hinted at a move away from Paris Saint-Germain.

Named Ligue 1’s player of the season at the UNFP (French Professional Footballers Association) Awards on Sunday night, the 20-year-old revealed during his acceptance speech that he wanted to be given “more responsibility”, either at PSG or “elsewhere with a new project”.

“I have discovered a lot here, and I feel it is maybe the moment to have more responsibility,” said the World Cup-winner, who has long been linked with a move to Los Blancos.

“I hope that can perhaps be at Paris Saint-Germain, that would be a great pleasure. Or maybe elsewhere with a new project.”

The Santiago Bernabeu appears to be the only realistic destination for the brightest young star in the game, but where else could his ambition take him?

Here we assess five possible clubs who might be in with a shout of landing Mbappe.

REAL MADRID

0401 Zidane

Well, you said you wanted a new project, Kylian? And here it is: revive a Real Madrid side sliding into the doldrums. Though they may have lifted three-straight Champions League trophies under Zinedine Zidane during his initial tenure, this period has masked horrible deficiencies off the field.

The club is decaying on it – Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure 12 months ago exposing the magnitude of their issues, from aging and under-performing players to a lack of clear transfer strategy. While Real have thrived on the continent in recent years, Barcelona have ruled Spain – winning eight of the last 11 La Liga crowns. And they are far from the imperious force Pep Guardiola moulded them into.

But they’ve been more than enough to hold Real at bay – Los Blancos alarmingly went through three managers this season and there was a 19-point chasm between them, in third, and champions Barca.

In truth, this is Mbappe’s only real likely landing spot should he actually be thinking about engineering a move away from the French capital.

We’re not exactly heading back to a ‘Galacticos’ era in the Spanish capital but, following a woefully below par campaign, rejuvenation is required.

A world-record £240million deal for Mbappe is believed to be in the offing, according to France Football, and that would be just the first piece for a Madrid rebuild, in a summer where they hope to secure Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Manchester United’s Paul Pogba to link up with Mbappe and spark Zidane’s French revolution.

BARCELONA

Lionel Messi (L) , Neymar (R)

They couldn’t, could they? Highly unlikely, but you just never know. After all, as stated above, Barca are far from their best – but they’re still light years ahead of the Madrid duo.

Apart from the brinkmanship any move for Mbappe would cause with Real – who have poked the Barca beast in recent years following their courting of former Blaugrana striker Neymar, a current Mbappe team-mate – Barca have their own needs in the forward department.

Domestic kings, sure, but it is the continental competition which they most covet – as Lionel Messi so passionately professed in pre-season. They have floundered in the Champions League since last lifting the trophy in 2014/15, failing to breach the semi-finals in any of the ensuing four years.

Philippe Coutinho simply hasn’t worked out, the jury remains out on Ousmane Dembele, while Luis Suarez’s form and body are rapidly eroding – so Mbappe would be welcomed.

The main issue remains Messi – whom there is an upside and downside to playing alongside. He IS Barcelona – as Neymar found out to his cost during his brief Catalonia career. Mbappe is a star and would be the jewel in the crown at any club, apart from maybe Barca.

MANCHESTER CITY

Manchester City (1)

Since leaving the Camp Nou, Barca simply haven’t been the all-conquering juggernaut that Guardiola transformed them into. Following a successful, if continentally deficient stint at Bayern Munich, the Spaniard is now shaping Manchester City into a European colossus.

They have just retained their Premier League title and appear a team on the cusp of creating a dynasty. The depth of Guardiola’s squad is ridiculous, except in attack where there is room for improvement.

Sergio Aguero is a phenom and has extended his career under Guardiola, who has transformed the 30-year-old into a polished, all-round striker. The prolific Argentine is signed up until 2021 but is 31 next month and unlikely to stay beyond the next two years, at which point City will need a new spearhead.

Gabriel Jesus has not quite cut it so far – he was supposed to supplant Aguero this season, yet has regressed. The 22-year-old Brazilian has 21 goals in 46 appearances although that is not truly indicative of progress. A four-goal haul in January’s 9-0 League Cup semi-final second leg thrashing off Burton Albion, for example, skewing his stats.

If Mbappe seeks a new project, at City he’ll have one that provides silverware, as well as a challenge.

JUVENTUS

Ronaldo

Serie A isn’t the sprawling metropolis of energy and industry it once was. But it’s still more of a challenge than pitching up against teams who are beaten before kick-off.

Ligue 1 has been christened a ‘farmer’s league’ by critics and for good reason. PSG scored nine more goals (104) than any other team in Europe’s top five leagues in 2018/19 and 37 more than next highest domestic scorers Lille and Lyon (67). Their dominance of France has been aided by increasing wealth and opposition largely inferior in an environment nowhere near as competitive as England, Spain, Italy or Germany.

The Bianconeri have similarly ruled Italy’s top-flight – lifting eight successive Scudettos – but the standard of opposition is infinitely higher. For all their control domestically, PSG have showed constant fragility in Europe, but Juve are more battle-hardened.

They recruited Ronaldo last summer in their fight for a first Champions League crown in 23 years. It didn’t have the desired effect as they fell in the quarter-finals to Ajax – but you feel the Old Lady have more stomach for the latter stages than the Parisians.

Like with Messi in Barcelona, the presence of Ronaldo in Turin comes with its own inherent obstacles. But again, it feels like a test to be relished.

BAYERN MUNICH

BeFunky-collage (92)

Speaking of totemic players, Munich have just waved goodbye to two following a seventh straight Bundesliga title. Club stalwarts Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben bid farewell to the Allianz Arena in fitting style on Saturday, scoring the fourth and fifth goals respectively as Eintracht Frankfurt were flattened 5-1 and the title secured.

Robert Lewandowski remains but, even so, has his detractors and appears on the decline. And despite their reign, the club is in need of new blood. Niko Kovac could lead the Bavarian behemoths to a domestic double but his future is not secure.

Intrepid Ajax manager Erik ten Hag and former Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho are two names being linked with overseeing a Munich remodelling project – and what better statement of intent could they make than bringing in Mbappe?

Like Juve and PSG it is Bayern’s continental aspirations that need addressing following a sub-par season in the Champions League – exiting meekly, 3-1, at the hands of finalists Liverpool in the last 16.

As with his current situation, or should he want to try Turin, in Bavaria Mbappe could continue to lift silverware domestically, while also driving his and Bayern’s European ambition.

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Barcelona losing hope in Matthijs de Ligt pursuit amid PSG, Juventus, Bayern Munich links

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Matthijs de Ligt's future continues to be a source of speculation.

Barcelona have reportedly lost the optimism that underlined the initial stages of their pursuit of Ajax star Matthijs de Ligt, with growing concern that Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, and Bayern Munich are all ahead of them in the chase.

According to ESPN, the demands of De Ligt’s agent, Mino Raiola, may end up pricing the Catalan club out of a move, despite looking like the favourites for his signature for most of the past year.

The La Liga champions reportedly have an agreement in place with Ajax, similar to the one they finalised in January for De Light’s team-mate Frenkie de Jong – a £75 million initial transfer fee, plus add-ons. But they have yet to come to an agreement with the player and his agent, allowing other clubs to enter negotiations with the hope of making a better offer – with La Blaugrana unable to increase their current bid.

They still harbour hopes that the 19-year-old’s reported desire to play for Barcelona will give them an edge, but are increasingly unsure of De Ligt’s intentions.

“We can’t move any more on what we’ve offered,” a Barcelona source told ESPN. “One of the things that could benefit us is the player’s desire to come here, but we will see if that really is what he wants in the end.”

De Ligt captained Ajax to a domestic double, and the club also produced a magical run to the Champions League semi-final before being knocked out by Tottenham in heartbreaking fashion.

The Dutchman’s excellent form to end the season has reportedly led Raiola to increase his demands, both for the fee due to him as well as the wages being offered to his client.

Barcelona are unwilling to change their offer from one that was reportedly agreed in principle in March.

Meanwhile, the Liverpool Echo revealed on Monday that Premier League runners-up Liverpool, who will face Tottenham in next week’s Champions League final, are not in the running for De Ligt, despite having been previously linked with a move.

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Manchester United prepare to trigger Thomas Partey release clause at Atletico Madrid

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Fallen Premier League heavyweights Manchester United are prepared to activate the €50 million release clause in defensive midfielder Thomas Partey’s Atletico Madrid contract, according to Footballghana.com.

Partey, 25, has grown into an impressive performer for Los Rojiblancos since the start of 2017/18. The Ghana international’s progress has not gone unnoticed elsewhere, with the Red Devils viewing him as an ideal replacement for Paris Saint-Germain- bound Ander Herrera.

Inter Milan and Arsenal are set to provide competition for the signature of a player who netted three times in 32 La Liga run-outs in 2018/19.

Any move has been eased by the existence of a termination fee that agent Jose Daniel Jimenez Pozanco confirmed earlier in the week.

“Inter is a top club, but I haven’t talked to anyone yet,” the Spaniard told passioneinter.com.

“The termination clause in Thomas’s contract is €50m, and that’s a cheap figure for a player like him.

“Let the season end and then we’ll see what happens “

Partey linked up with Atleti as a teenager in 2011. He played on loan at Mallorca and Almeria from 2013-15, before breaking into Diego Simeone’s first-team squad.

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