THE EURO FILES: Kylian Mbappe is expensive, divisive, and would disrupt the harmony at Real Madrid… but don’t believe for a second Los Blancos won’t be in for him this summer
- Recent reports claimed that Real Madrid’s interest in Kylian Mbappe has waned
- PLUS, Jose Mourinho and Maurizio Sarri are still up to their old tricks in Italy
- Man Utd are NOT good enough to have a ball-playing keeper – It’s All Coming Up
On Wednesday night at the Santiago Bernabeu Erling Haaland’s agent, Rafaela Pimenta, was among the 69,000 crowd to watch Real Madrid — playing without a centre forward as usual — beat Braga 3-0.
On the same night a prominent Spanish radio journalist had announced that Real Madrid had ‘ruled out signing Kylian Mbappe’ this summer, or ever.
And all this came 24-hours after the Spanish club went to the trouble of releasing a statement to officially deny they were negotiating with Mbappe ahead of him becoming a free agent this January.
We can take ‘Madrid ruling out ever signing Mbappe’ as seriously as the stories about them being ‘primed to announce him any day’, last summer and the summer before that.
But what does seem clear is that the Paris Saint-Germain forward, who turns 25 next month, can no longer name his price — Real Madrid cannot and will not pay what he is paid by Qatar.
Reports in Spain have claimed that Real Madrid’s interest in Kylian Mbappe have cooled… but don’t for a second believe they won’t be in for him this summer
However, Los Blancos cannot and will not pay what is paid to Mbappe by PSG’s Qatari owners
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They erred in the summer not doing more to sign Harry Kane. They failed to look beyond his 30 years and have looked on enviously ever since at the way the Bayern Munich striker has adapted to his new club every bit as quickly as Jude Bellingham.
And they also erred giving up on Haaland in 2022 because they were blinkered and could still only see Mbappe.
It is now clear that Haaland fits them better than the Frenchman, who plays in the same position as Vinicius Junior and would be far more likely to disrupt a dressing room harmony built around no one feeling superior to anyone else.
Mbappe’s arrival would disrupt the club’s pay structure. Beyond demanding a €100million signing on fee, he earns €25m net in France and Madrid’s pay ceiling is currently around €11m — it’s where the likes of Toni Kroos and David Alaba are, in the final years of their deals, and where Bellingham and Vinicius will be deeper into their current contracts.
Mbappe is not worth €14m more per season than Bellingham.
He has also lost favour in the Spanish capital over the years by never declaring an eternal love for the club. They like to sign players who publicly show that they want to play for them, and privately show that same desire in the form of financial sacrifices — Bellingham would have earned more at City but chose Real Madrid.
Mbappe has never done any of that beyond having a poster of Cristiano Ronaldo on his bedroom wall as a kid. Since then he has snubbed them to stay in Paris on several occasions.
Pimenta told reporters at the Bernabeu on Wednesday that she was not there to speak to Real Madrid president Florentino Perez about Manchester City’s centre forward.
They’re envious of how Bayern Munich have made a success of buying 30-year-old Harry Kane
Madrid like to sign players who publicly show that they want to play for them, and privately show that same desire in the form of financial sacrifices – like Jude Bellingham
Beyond having a Cristiano Ronaldo poster on his childhood bedroom wall, Mbappe has never showed any great love towards Madrid
She may well have been there to work as an intermediary for Fernando Brito who represents 20-year-old Brazilian striker Marcos Leonardo.
He is third top scorer in Brazil with 13 goals and would fit Madrid’s current modus operandi of signing youth — Palmeiras’ Endrick Felipe, aged 17, has already been signed and will arrive next summer.
What is clear from Madrid’s Haaland shuffle this week is that Mbappe — who was below par against Milan in the Champions League, adding even more weight to the narrative — is no longer Madrid’s be-all and end-all.
If he wants to come in the summer he might have to ‘do a Bellingham’ and reject bigger offers from England.
Elder statesmen Jose and Sarri still up to old tricks
Europe is overflowing with bright young coaches from Roberto De Zerbi at Brighton to Francesco Farioli at Nice and Michel at Girona. Then there’s Jose Mourinho and Maurizio Sarri doing a passable Statler and Waldorf impersonation ahead of Saturday’s Rome derby.
The Lazio coach has complained this week about having to face Roma at the end of the Champions League week: ‘I don’t think it is a particularly intelligent choice on the part of the League,’ he said.
Mourinho had already moaned: ‘Lazio will have a 48-hour advantage because they play on Tuesday and we play on Thursday’.
Jose Mourinho has moaned about Lazio having a ’48-hour advantage’ in the Rome derby due to the clubs’ respective midweek commitments – and took aim at Maurizio Sarri
‘This is the difference between a coach who won 26 titles and another that has won next to nothing,’ Mourinho said about Sarri
And they were also at each other: ‘This is the difference between a coach who won 26 titles and another that has won next to nothing,’ said Mourinho, reacting to Sarri’s quip that his team had a ‘war’ against Feyenoord to fight before the derby, while Roma had a ‘friendly’ against Slavia Prague. Neither side is playing well and that in part explains the noise from the coaches.
At least Lazio — who won both Rome derbies last year 1-0 — won their European game. Roma were ‘horrible’ in defeat at Slavia, according to Mourinho, who banned his players from talking to media afterwards.
Entertainers Betis having Isco disco
Betis are becoming La Liga’s great entertainers, with Isco playing so well it was a surprise he wasn’t handed his first Spain call up for four years on Friday.
And in wonder winger Nabil Fekir he has a new accomplice. The former France international has been out for eight months after a cruciate tear but he returned on Thursday as a late substitute in Betis’ 4-1 win over Aris Limassol.
He came on just as Betis were awarded a penalty. Isco handed him the ball so his first kick back in front of home fans would be a goal. His spot-kick was saved, of course.
Sevilla have not yet won in the league nor in Europe under new coach Diego Alonso, with their performance against Arsenal on Wednesday described as the club’s worst ever in the competition.
Isco was handed his first Spain call-up in four years on Friday after a brilliant run of form
They desperately need a break. Maybe they got one late in that Betis win. Claudio Bravo pulled his hamstring, his deputy Rui Silva is already out.
So 24-year-old Fran Vieites will have to play in goal having only ever played once in La Liga.
Fati is starting to prove Xavi right
When Brighton got out-of-sorts Ansu Fati in the summer and Barcelona replaced him with Portugal international Joao Felix it looked like Xavi was getting the better deal.
But the two loans had been against the Barca coach’s original wishes and it’s starting to look like he might have been right.
After a good start Felix hasn’t scored for 10 games and the intensity of his first few performances has been replaced by a tendency to lose possession.
Fati’s goal and assist on Thursday was a reminder to everyone at Barca that their homegrown forward is more than a match for Atletico’s all-time most expensive signing.
Ansu Fati, loaned out by Barcelona, is more than a match for Joao Felix, who they’ve loaned in
Six to watch this weekend
Bayern Munich v Heidenheim, Bundesliga. Saturday, 2.30pm, Sky Sports Football
Real Madrid v Valencia, La Liga. Saturday, 8pm, ITV4, Viaplay Sports 1
Reims v Paris Saint-Germain, Ligue 1. Saturday, 4pm
Barcelona v Alaves, La Liga. Sunday, 3.15pm, Viaplay Sports 2
Lazio v Roma, Serie A. Sunday, 5pm, TNT Sports 2
Sevilla v Real Betis, La Liga. Sunday, 5.30pm, Viaplay Sports 2
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