Rumor has it that French superstar Kylian Mbappé wants out of Paris Saint-Germain, and this despite – or because – of the prospects of playing on the same team as both Neymar and Lionel Messi, who was brought in after an eternal run at FC Barcelona.
As a former resident of Madrid, I don’t underestimate the global goodwill that Real Madrid has not just with fans, but also, players. But how much of this has to do with Mbappé – already a World Cup winner and on a torrid pace to match if not eclipse some of Ronaldo and Messi’s many accomplishments – wanting to avoid playing in the shadows of the two South Americans?
While Messi has nothing else to prove – especially after winning a Copa America with Argentina this year, Neymar was widely seen as the heir apparent to Messi and Ronaldo… until Mbappé eclipsed the Brazilian in that regard. While PSG would be one (if not the) favorite to win the Champions league with the trio on the roster, it’s also likely that Mbappé relative value would almost decline if he were to deliver that prize alongside Messi and Neymar.
If he goes to Real Madrid, he’s certainly playing for a more legendary club, but by the same token, Real Madrid’s odds of winning the championship isn’t as good (on paper anyway) as PSG’s. Ironically, this is a genius PR move on many levels: if he stays one more year and walk without giving PSG a return on the transfer market with a move this year, he’s cast as a villain for leaving PSG empty-handed (unless PSG wins the championship, which is never a slam dunk). But, by walking away from “certain victory” to join Madrid, it actually begs the question, is Mbappé selfish or actually, selfless and putting club above all? That his countrymen Karim Benzema currently plays for Madrid and France’s all-time great Zinedine Zidane did so at one time as well only adds to the allure the club presents.