Liverpool, Real Madrid or Manchester City: Where will Kylian Mbappe end up?
French superstar Mbappe seems destined to end up leaving PSG one day - but where will he go?
There's barely a transfer window that goes by without Kylian Mbappe being linked with one of Europe's big guns. The French striker has captivated the world since he burst onto the scene with Monaco and his stock has only risen since then.
The consensus was always that either Neymar or Mbappe would have to leave Paris Saint-Germain sometime - this town ain't big enough for the both of them, or something like that. With the Brazilian rumoured to be putting pen to paper on a new deal imminently, there are going to be rumours of Mbappe catching the crosshairs of the elite once more. Could this be the year that he departs his home country?
Mbappe is obviously phenomenally talented in a number of positions and still likely to improve. After coming so close to a Champions League title last summer, there are clubs on the continent who would love to give him a chance at bagging that particular medal - to add to that World Cup he won, aged 19.
But who's in the race to sign him?
The favourites are obvious. Real Madrid have long been admirers of Mbappe's, reportedly missing out on signing the starlet the first time he was the centre of a bidding war. Nothing's changed.
Kylian himself has apparently always dreamed of becoming a Galactico like his hero Cristiano Ronaldo. After three years in the French capital, the time could well be right this summer for a switch to Spain; Los Blancos lack firepower and the opportunity to have Karim Benzema as a mentor - not to mention French legend, Zinedine Zidane, as your manager - must be a big pull for the 22-year-old.
According to reports though, this could be ambitious for the La Liga champions, given the state of their finances. Real Madrid haven't signed anyone for three windows and apparently couldn't afford the nine-figure sum that it would take to prise the jewel in French football's crown away from Ligue 1.
Real will probably remain odds-on to land Mbappe until he actually decides to leave PSG - whether that's this summer, next summer or in five years' time. There are definitely creases to be ironed out before then.
A surprise name who entered the fray last season were Liverpool, when they became linked with the French talent out of nowhere. Naturally, Trent Alexander-Arnold's arms-folded celebration after scoring against Leicester City last season set tongues wagging - while Mbappe himself has complimented the Reds.
Liverpool hold an ace card over Real Madrid when it comes to courting Mbappe: they have a sponsorship deal with Nike. Mbappe is a poster-boy of the manufacturer, who would welcome him moving to Anfield, probably making the deal a little more lucrative for all involved - not that it ever harmed CR7's brand, having Nike and Real contracts in his pocket.
Injecting Mbappe into Jurgen Klopp's side is a mouthwatering prospect. That iconic front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino would no doubt have to be split up or tinkered with - but then Diogo Jota should join the party again soon, anyway. Mbappe has the ability to play in either Salah or Mane's role - perhaps after a good three years of this frontline though, Klopp would be willing to sell one to fund the Frenchman's purchase. Maybe even to Madrid, to fend them off from Mbappe.
Would Liverpool go out and sign such a superstar though? It's uncharted territory and the club have seemed unwilling to shell out big money of late. Fans might just hope that they're saving the pennies for this big marquee buy...
Speaking of big Nike clients...
Barcelona have a history of signing Frenchmen for hundreds of millions of Euros - why hello there, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele - so this wouldn't be out of the ordinary for the club, despite the mixed success of those transfers. Mbappe would stretch the play for Barca, he seems like a good successor to Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi would probably approve of the signing. All good so far.
Barcelona, like Real, are rumoured to be cash-strapped, however. The presidential elections and uncertainty over Ronald Koeman's long-term credentials are stumbling blocks, while the development of Ansu Fati and Pedri seem like good things to prioritise over another monopoly-money risk that might not pay off.
Kylian Mbappe seems like the exact kind of signing that Barcelona should really avoid, as they look to recover from the last few years of excess and poor decision-making in the transfer market. Considering that though, it's best not to rule them out from signing him.
When is a big-money signing ever not linked with Manchester City? Once upon a time, Pep Guardiola was heavily linked with the teen who made his name tearing City apart in Europe for Monaco and it's likely that City would be in the frame again, should Mbappe become available.
Mbappe would be a suitable replacement for Sergio Aguero - out of contract this summer - but could also play in Raheem Sterling's role. Guardiola's work with Sterling has shown how he can refine a winger's game and improve their output too, which Mbappe would surely benefit from. The Frenchman would be guaranteed goals and assists while playing in the most lucrative league in the world. It's a win-win.
Whether or not City would want to break the bank for the forward remains to be seen, though. The club rarely target such high-profile big names and Mbappe is the kind of player who seems less of a perfect profile for the system and more like someone who would have to be built around. This signing would take a lot of money - Pep would perhaps prefer to spend less on a player like Lautaro Martinez who feels more like a more natural fit.
It would be a phenomenally exciting transfer that would send City into the stratosphere. Don't rule them out from the race.
Manchester United are rumoured to be besotted with the idea of signing Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund to bolster their attack in two positions. It would be very United indeed for the club to sign a bigger name who excels in both of those positions.
Kylian Mbappe would be the latest in a long line of iconic United No.7s. He'd be able to link up with countrymen Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial - assuming Pogba doesn't leave this summer - and he's exactly the kind of versatile forward that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer adores. Surely teammates old and new, in Edinson Cavani and Ander Herrera, would talk up the move to Mbappe, too? It makes sense.
Despite this though, United have never shown much of an interest in Mbappe. They were never in for him originally and they haven't been rumoured with his services in the years since. Solskjaer's never revealed a real, burning admiration for the forward - despite facing him in two Champions League campaigns - with Neymar linked with Old Trafford far more than his teammate. If we're talking PSG teammates who'll chat to Kylian about United too, by the way, perhaps best if Angel Di Maria keeps schtum.
United have moved away from signing the biggest names on the planet but Mbappe wouldn't be a disastrous move like Radamel Falcao or Alexis Sanchez. If he really does want a Ronaldo-like career, it would be a smart place to go...
Honestly, who's not linked with Chelsea? The Blues are still looking for that one striker to rule them all - Timo Werner's not proved to be it so far - and it would be a surprise to precisely no one, should Roman Abramovich cough up for Kylian Mbappe.
There's a Thomas Tuchel connection, a Nike deal and the glamour of London, for a start. Chelsea have a growing presence in the States thanks to Christian Pulisic, which may well interest Mbappe, and a striker of his calibre would be the first name on the team sheet with the likes of Ziyech, Pulisic, Werner, Havertz and Mount all supporting him.
Given how Chelsea are still trying to figure out the finer details of assembling the stars they already have though, maybe they should run before they walk. He may not wish to work with Tuchel again either - though the German only has an 18-month deal - while there isn't a natural spot in the Chelsea side that immediately stands out as the place that he would fit in.
Chelsea's current project, really, is still in its infancy. It probably has some way to go before it could accommodate a star such as Mbappe.
Arsenal were one of the shock frontrunners for Kylian Mbappe in 2018, eventually signing Alexandre Lacazette as a consolation. Arsene Wenger explained the project to Mbappe and his team in person, apparently, with the teenager said to be intrigued by the idea of moving to the North Londoners.
So much has changed since then. Arsenal are no longer Champions League regulars for a start, while the entire backroom picture has shifted with Wenger and chief exec Ivan Gazidis having left. Arsenal now have Mbappe-esque Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang captaining the side, with wonderkid Gabriel Martinelli being primed to assume Auba's mantel one day. A frugal, midtable Premier League side spending upwards of £100m on one of the biggest players in the world? Really?
The draw that Arsenal still have is impressive, though - just look at the Gunners landing Thomas Partey and Martin Odegaard. Owner Stan Kroenke proved with the Partey release clause and the Nicolas Pepe deal that he's more prepared to invest these days, while Mikel Arteta has shifted over £600,000 a week off the wage bill recently. French stars regularly talk of the allure of the club that brought Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira to the top table of football - could Mbappe follow?
In order to be in with a shot, the Gunners would probably have to secure Champions League football for next season - which seems unlikely. And even then, there are greater deficiencies in the team to address. It would have been more likely under Wenger - it probably won't happen now, under Arteta.
Juventus are another side who have never been linked with Kylian Mbappe but they offer benefits that rivals don't. The chance to play alongside Cristiano Ronaldo? Tick. Favourable tax laws? Tick. The glamour of Italy, the certainty of Champions League football every year and the club's commitment to investing in players who complement the style and vibe of those already there? Tick, tick, tick.
Juve are a supremely run football club. They would turn Mbappe into something even bigger and better and under Pirlo's current system and he could fit in nicely as a strike partner for Cristiano, for a start. Hell, the Juve board would probably be willing to bring in a new coach to revamp the entire side to bend Mbappe into it.
That doesn't mean that it necessarily makes sense right now, though. Like Chelsea and Arsenal, Juventus's current trajectory feels a little too soon to be adding such a name into the mix. They're currently in flux in Serie A and adding a big name with no clear plan - who will likely hinder the development of Dejan Kulusevski and Federico Chiesa - might be the worst possible thing they could do.
It would be sensational to see Mbappe in the stripes of the Old Lady, recalling nostalgia for a time when making the big move to Serie A was the peak of a player's development. Perhaps the club and the player are a little too different to make it work though - maybe when he's in his thirties, like Ronaldo, eh?
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Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. An encyclopedia of football shirts and boots knowledge – both past and present – Mark has also been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals for FFT and has written pieces for the mag ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career. He once saw Tyrone Mings at a petrol station in Bournemouth but felt far too short to ask for a photo.
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