With three games played in the 2017/18 season, Monaco sit top of France’s Ligue 1 table having won all three games. This is despite the fact that their most prominent player, Kylian Mbappe, has played just 75 minutes this season, all in their opening 3-2 win over Toulouse. Against Dijon, he stayed on the bench for the whole game. Friday night in Metz, he wasn’t even in the matchday squad. According to the BBC, Monaco boss Leonardo Jardim will tell you Mbappe — still just 18 years old — is not 100 percent.
However, there is a lot more to this story than the entirely predictable ebb and flow of form that affects all young players. Mbappe, you see, is the subject of a 180 million euros ($211 million) transfer bid from Paris St. Germain, and the football world knows it is a matter of when, not if. The transfer could go through as soon as this week.
Bear in mind that before Paris’ recent acquisition of Neymar Jr, the world record transfer fee for a soccer player was the 115 million euros spent by Manchester United to acquire Paul Pogba from Juventus. Having almost doubled that once in the last month, PSG are now set on having the world’s most and second-most expensive players in the same attack.
The playing future of Kylian Mbappe has been a matter of speculation all summer. Real Madrid, Arsenal, Manchester United, and others have been linked with deals for the player who, at an age where many players would be awaiting their major-league debuts, has played sixty times for his club, scoring 27 times in the process. Recent rumours have suggested that the Riviera club, have already accepted an offer from their Ligue 1 rivals — which would be a stunning move for one reason in particular.
Not only are Monaco a rival of PSG, they’re the reigning champions of France. To sign Mbappe from their rivals would strengthen the Paris club and weaken a direct opponent in one fell swoop. It would also mark a demonstrable show of force given that the current champions don’t lack financial muscle themselves, owned as they are by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev.
Paris, for their part, are the richest club in France. For their outlay, they will expect not only to regain the title as French champions, but make serious progress in the Champions’ League — a tournament in which they have failed to progress beyond the quarter-finals since 1995, years before their coffers were swelled to the current extent. Failure to do so with this level of investment would be seen as an embarrassment.
Not that they need the funds, but selling Mbappe at the fee quoted would represent nothing but profit for Monaco, who signed him as a youth. The question remains as to who they will draft in to replace him. According to ESPN, Julien Ngoy of Stoke City has been targeted; like Mbappe, the 19-year-old has been likened to French legend Thierry Henry.
With immense wealth in French football, a new TV deal having enriched all English Premier League clubs and the Neymar money burning a hole in Barcelona’s pocket, there may be a few more big-money deals to be completed by August 31, when the deadline for transfers in the major leagues passes. Are there more surprises to come?
[Featured Image by Carlos Rodrigues/Getty Images]