Florentino Perez doesn’t enjoy when someone else is receiving attention. This is part of the reason the Real Madrid president does the kind of business he does.
By spending the most money on the most en vogue players, Perez ensures that fans, media and peers are looking intently upon him and his club, out of either intrigue or investment. It’s why the bullies from the capital always prefer the earthshaking move to the sensemaking one. It’s why they bought Luis Figo and David Beckham and Kaka and Gareth Bale. It’s why, according to reports, they’re about to break the transfer world record to buy Kylian Mbappe.
Mbappe-Madrid, in all honesty, is a marriage made in football heaven. At least going on what we know. What do we know? Well, we know that Mbappe set France ablaze during AS Monaco’s 2016-17 title-winning campaign. The 18-year-old scored 15 goals in 29 Ligue 1 appearances last season, with 12 of those appearances as a substitute.
Per this Sky Sports piece, Mbappe was “directly involved in a league goal every 65 minutes,” putting his efficiency amongst the best in European football. Yes, with Messi and Ronaldo.
The young Frenchman also contributed six goals in Monaco’s Champions League semifinal run last year against the likes of Juventus, Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City. We also know that Madrid is a club well-versed on employing prolific, world-class forwards, no matter the cost. Mbappe just so happens to be a certified Cristiano Ronaldo “Stan,” as well. As I said: match, heaven.
Still, Mbappe is very much a dubious commodity. While his recent goal-haul is undeniable in a vacuum, it’s a loogie in the ocean when broadly judging a player’s true potential. Having less than a single season of full-fledged, top-flight league starts is a meaningful deduction to make.
What happens when he is surrounded by a different set of players than his Monaco teammates? How will he react to falling out of form? What happens to him toward the end months of a grueling season? These are all pertinent questions with answers that will tell us whether or not Mbappe will become an all-time great. After all, €150 million implies that he will be.
It’d be insincere to suggest that Mbappe doesn’t look to be the real deal, however. Even with the minute pieces of data to pull from, one glance at the 18-year-old in action settles any qualms. While clearly blessed with blistering pace, Mbappe’s intelligence and ingenuity ultimately set him apart from other forwards his age and beyond. His calm, measured way of performing ultimately results in elite productivity, as well as enormous value.
The timing of the Mbappe news is certainly peculiar, considering how entrenched in the Neymar-to-PSG transfer saga European soccer media have been. But this was always going to be a major story of the 2017 summer window. Mbappe’s evergrowing stature among the continent’s elite youngsters has been calcified, at least in terms of Things That Currently Matter.
Forget about the minimal sample size of data everyone’s working with regarding the Frenchman, because it’s irrelevant. All that matters is that a hot — the hottest — prospect is out there and Florentino Perez is lurking with his checkbook.
But there’s more to this story. Sport reported on Friday that Barcelona held a meeting with Mbappe’s agents to open a line of communication between the parties.
This is obviously far from agreeing terms, or even getting the two clubs to acknowledge each other. More importantly, though, it means that this whole ordeal is far from over.
Neymar might be plastered all over the transfer window at the moment, but Mbappe — or better yet, Perez — is preparing to smash the window altogether.