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Real Madrid ready to offer Mbappe something even PSG’s millions can’t buy

19:00 BST 25/08/2021
Kylian Mbappe Real Madrid GFX
The World Cup winner could be drawn to Santiago Bernabeu by the promise of becoming an icon at one of the game's most legendary clubs

When Real Madrid return to Santiago Bernabeu for the first time in 559 days for their La Liga meeting with Celta Vigo on September 11, they may well have a new star in their ranks to show off in the form of Kylian Mbappe.

Los Blancos have already had a €160 million (£130m/$188m) offer for the World Cup winner rejected by Paris Saint-Germain, but with a little under a week remaining in the summer transfer window, they could yet return with a larger offer.

PSG sporting director Leonardo has admitted that Mbappe wants to go, but the Brazilian is digging his heels in over the matter, indicating that the club’s intention is to extend the player’s contract, with runs out in June 2022.

They will not, Leonardo has promised, accept an offer lower than the €180m including bonuses that brought Mbappe from Monaco to Parc des Princes.

Crucially, too, Leonardo says he has the France international's word that he will not depart on a free transfer.

“Kylian Mbappe wants to leave, that seems clear to me,” he explained to RMC. “If he wants to leave, we won't hold him back, but it's on our terms.

“Our goal is to give him a contract extension and to keep him. That's always been our goal and it still is.”

This promises, then, to be the pivotal week in Mbappe’s already extraordinary career.

On the field, he has cut a carefree figure so far this season, despite knowing that this transfer issue was going to come to a head sooner or later.

He has been the instrumental figure in PSG securing three wins from three matches thus far in Ligue 1, returning one goal and two assists, plus contributing massively to another strike with a shot that was deflected into the net.

If he looked heavy legged at times last season, the Mbappe that has shown up this season is the thrilling, direct one of his earlier years.

Perhaps he feels he has a point to prove to the club’s management and Leonardo, in particular, with whom he has a frosty relationship.

With Neymar still on his way back following his summer exertions at the Copa America and Lionel Messi not yet fit enough to play, Mbappe has been PSG’s focus. It is a role in which he has thrived, but it is not one that he can become accustomed to.

Flanked by the two other PSG superstars, his own influence will be stifled. Instantly, he will go from being team leader to just another player.

What Mbappe has experienced in the three opening matches of Ligue 1, though, could be a tantalising taste of things to come for the 22-year-old should he make the move to Madrid.

In the Spanish capital, he would become not just ‘a star’ but ‘the star’.

And Real Madrid is not just any club. This is the side that has won 13 European Cups, more than any other in history; whose iconic white shirt has been worn by all-time greats from Alfredo Di Stefano and Ferenc Puskas through to Zinedine Zidane and, of course, Cristiano Ronaldo. This is a club that has inspired the dreams of millions of children around the world, among them a young Mbappe.

Those pictures of a 14-year-old Mbappe sitting on his bed at Monaco’s academy with the walls plastered in images of Madrid-era Ronaldo are testimony to his long-held aspiration to one day follow in the five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s footsteps and move to Los Blancos.

What is more, Mbappe has a unique opportunity to define a whole new era for Real Madrid.

Ronaldo’s 2018 departure to Juventus was a bookend to a period of unprecedented success in the modern game, as Madrid won three successive Champions League titles and four in five seasons.

The Covid-19 pandemic almost seemed to push the club into a state of hibernation as they shied away from spending in the transfer market, and instead shrewdly brought the renovation of the Bernabeu forward while decamping to the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano and preparing themselves for a glorious return.

They now want Mbappe to be the manifestation of their patience. At the Bernabeu, he would be emblematic of a new era, a figure to construct a team around as ageing stars such as Karim Benzema, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos are fazed out over the months and years ahead.

Real Madrid have not just offered Mbappe the opportunity to realise his teenage dreams, but to surpass them. It is a draw that even PSG’s millions cannot match.