Kylian Mbappe PSG Real Madrid GFXGetty/Goal

PSG win the battle for Mbappe but war with Real Madrid looms on the horizon

When the clock struck midnight to signal the end of the transfer window in Spain, Kylian Mbappe remained a Paris Saint-Germain player much to the consternation of Real Madrid.

Amid Lionel Messi’s tears as he departed Barcelona, and the exultation of Cristiano Ronaldo as he moved back to Manchester United after more than a decade away, Mbappe was the story that gripped over the course of the summer, running until time finally ran out on the side from the Spanish capital.

Of course, the expectation was that PSG would buckle. Spanish television show El Chiringuito even had a countdown clock plastered with Mbappe’s image, with the seconds ticking down to what they felt was his inevitable arrival.

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It was amidst such a background of overblown drama that the saga between Europe’s oldest footballing heavyweight and the continent’s newest played out.

PSG have regularly flexed the financial strength of owners QSI over the 10 years since they were taken over by the Qatari group, yet never has that been more evident than over the past few days.

While signing Neymar for €222 million (£190m/$262m) marked a new age for football transfers, rejecting a €200m (£172m/$236m) offer for a player out of contract in 10 months is an even more remarkable feat, though unlikely to be one remembered as long.

By the end of the window, PSG were not even responding to Madrid’s approaches, echoing Tottenham’s belligerent approach to Manchester City’s short-lived pursuit of Harry Kane. But while Spurs have a lengthy contract to protect their interests, the Parisian side are aware that time is their enemy.

Indeed, this arm wrestle was ultimately futile. Mbappe will wind up at Real Madrid eventually – and there’s a fair chance that they will sign him for nothing at the end of the season, assuming their finances stay in reasonable order.

Kylian Mbappe Neymar Lionel Messi PSG GFXGetty Images

PSG, though, have highlighted their pugnacity in the transfer market. These are confrontations that they do not back down from – for a matter of pride if nothing else.

Money, as so often has been amply demonstrated both this summer and in the past, is little object to the Parc des Princes side, perhaps this season more than ever.

The 2022 World Cup holds much significance for QSI and Qatar. As the tiny Arab state prepares to host Earth’s greatest sporting occasion, it desperately wants to own the greatest club in the world. In order to stake this claim, it needs PSG to win the Champions League this season.

Mbappe, of course, is central to this plan and, as has been shown, no amount of money was likely to prise him from a PSG side disgruntled with an attitude from Real Madrid that they deigned disrespectful.

Asked to react to Real Madrid’s behaviour in their chase for Mbappe, PSG sporting director Leonardo launched into a rant on  RMC.

“It’s incorrect, illegal even because they contacted the player,” he complained. “It’s unacceptable to us because it is not correct.

“This offer is the very proof of their strategy: it has arrived one year from the end of his contract and seven days before the end of the transfer window.

“They want us to refuse to show Kylian that they’ve tried everything and will start negotiating for next year.”

Kylian Mbappe Lionel Messi PSG GFXGetty Images

PSG’s stance is that Madrid failed to meet their asking price at a suitable moment, though it remains to be seen how Mbappe will react to such posturing.

The early suggestions are not positive from a Parisian standpoint. On the player’s Instagram stories on Deadline Day, a post from a relative briefly flashed up before being quickly deleted.

“Respect, my brother, for your professionalism. Reprogramme your dreams, it will be any time now. Life is beautiful. You are the best,” the mysterious message read.

On the field, Mbappe has shown few signs of unhappiness. Indeed, he has put together his most consistent string of performances for months, doing his best to overshadow Lionel Messi on his debut when he scored both goals in a 2-0 win over Reims.

He has been smiling, bubbly and impressive. Away from the field, meanwhile, PSG are preparing another astronomical contract offer for Mbappe, which Le Parisien believes will make him the best-paid player in the world.

The French side, though, know that they have simply won a skirmish in the fight for Mbappe’s future. A far greater challenge will arise in January when he is able to open talks with rival clubs – and not just Real Madrid either, for teams in the Premier League will surely try to tempt him.

The transfer window is over, but the clock is still ticking on Mbappe’s future.