Liverpool, Arsenal & Man Utd have been linked with Kylian Mbappé - this is where he'll go

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Reports suggest that Kylian Mbappé is considering a transfer to the Premier League as Real Madrid negotiations stall

Death. Taxes. Rumours about Kylian Mbappé’s future. We may as well update the stock list of inevitabilities at this point, because once again a transfer window is being headlined by reports that one of the biggest stars of the global game will be leaving Paris Saint-Germain to sign for Real Madrid. Or Liverpool. Or Arsenal. Or indeed any club with a certain historical depth of pocket.

The latest alleged twist in the tale of one of the best and, let’s face it, financially motivated players of the century centres on the claim that Real have offered less to Mbappé than they did back in 2022. That was when the Frenchman appeared to leverage their interest to secure an extension with PSG, which happened to come with a colossal signing bonus. Apparently, the 25-year-old is not in love with the idea of making less than the maximum possible amount of money, and is now considering offers from elsewhere – which, given where the cash is in the modern game, means the Premier League.

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Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United tend to be the three names which come up in connection with one of the starriest signings imaginable. Those rumours tend to centre more on conjecture than anything else – that Liverpool are ‘known admirers’, to use the argot of the transfer window, that he ‘nearly’ joined Arsenal from Monaco back in 2017, or that United just seem like the type. They are, no doubt, exciting rumours – but they simply don’t hold up to scrutiny.

It also doesn’t help matters that different outlets are reporting different things. The Times reckon that Mbappé will snub Real over their reduced offer. French outlets reckon he’s already agreed a deal with the Spanish giants, with whom he is free to negotiate as he is inside the last six months of his PSG contract, a one-year extension which he holds the option on notwithstanding. The Athletic think neither is true, and that the forward is taking his time to consider his options before making his mind up in February.

Given Mbappé’s manoeuvres 18 months ago, which resulted in PSG handing over a rumoured €100m (£86.1m) bonus just to get him to stick around for one more year, you can bet that he won’t be interested in taking any offers which don’t come with massive paycheques attached – and that presents an immediate problem with the plausibility of two of his proposed Premier League moves.

Liverpool may well want Mbappé, but their owners Fenway Sports Group are among the more cautious of the American investment consortiums that have bought out European teams in recent years, and seldom spend high when they can avoid it. The club missed out on players like Moisés Caicedo and Roméo Lavia in the summer because they wouldn’t go toe-to-toe with Chelsea over the fees, and ended up making the budget-conscious decision to sign Wataru Endo instead.

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If Mbappé is keen to maximise his earnings, then it is simply not likely that Anfield will be his next permanent home – and while Liverpool could sell Mohamed Salah to the Saudi Pro League in order to free the funds up, that won’t happen until the summer at the earliest, by which time it will likely be too late. Remember that while Mbappé may technically be a free agent, the signing-on fee required to acquire his services will, on its own, almost certainly be larger than almost every transfer fee paid in the history of the game.

Arsenal, meanwhile, are already restricted in their January spending as they are rubbing up against FFP restrictions. That wouldn’t stop them from spending money on Mbappé next summer, but it does mean that they would have a tough time improving other areas of the squad and bringing him to the Emirates. Again, it’s not impossible, but if the Frenchman wishes to make the most money possible then he surely won’t find that opportunity in north London.

That leaves United. The Glazers have spent big on incoming transfers in the past and there would be a certain desperation to make such a starry, big-ticket signing happen, so from a fiscal perspective there is some merit to the idea that Old Trafford might be able to offer enough money to persuade him to come to England, but there remains one big problem – while Mbappé is undeniably interested in making as much money as he can from his career, it also seems reasonable to say that he cares about his legacy, and about winning. United, currently adrift of the top four and looking relatively unlikely to qualify for the Champions League, don’t offer the best chance of silverware as it stands.

And it’s that desire to win titles that brought him into contact with Real in the first place. It’s been reported, repeatedly, that it’s his dream move, and while they may be rowing back the enormity of the financial package they’re prepared to put together, they still offer the single best combination of likelihood of championships and global profile. They may not be the best team in the world right now (although they aren’t far off) but they are still the biggest, glitziest and most glamorous. Real have a cachet that no other team in the world can really match right now, even if United and Liverpool perhaps could have in their better days.

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The likelihood is that Mbappé and his representatives are using tentative interest from the Premier League – and an excitable British media that can sell plenty of newspapers off the back of the idea of his coming to the UK – to push Real’s offer up. It fits the playbook that he used to extract one last super-sized pay day from PSG last year. It may even be that he would prefer to stay in Paris and get another mega-deal from his Qatari paymasters, although reports from France suggest that the club’s owners are sufficiently irritated by his shenanigans last time around that he won’t be offered top dollar again.

Mbappé is a truly great player who wants to capitalise on his career to its fullest extent, both financially and in terms of trophies and on-field success. Real offer him the best chance of getting both worlds, in a way that Premier League sides are unlikely to be able to do, and he has made sure to send out as many signals as possible that Madrid is his dream destination. Until proven otherwise, every move he makes – and he and his reps have proven to be very crafty and canny operators – is dedicated to squeezing everything they can out of a deal that they know will happen anyway, and any overtures towards England should be viewed through the lens of an expert negotiator pushing his future pay packet up.

People want to believe that Mbappé could come to their club. Neutrals want to believe that they can watch him play in the Premier League. It’s a tantalising prospect, and that means that people will want to believe any rumour that links him with the Premier League. But for now, every substantive report and every indication he has provided for us points the same way – he will most probably sign for Real Madrid next summer. For Liverpool, Arsenal, United or anyone else in England, Mbappé remains a pipe dream.

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