Until the day before the news of his decision broke, neither his current club nor his suitors, knew exactly what was going to happen with Kylian Mbappé. He had reached agreements with both long ago, something his mother and one of his representatives, Fayza Lamari, confirmed on Friday.
Nothing had been signed, but the terms were all set. Both clubs were willing to pay $158 million as a signing-on fee, and both agreed that he would have the majority of his image rights and a salary of $42 million, bbc.com reported.
Florentino let the whole team know
On Friday, after the last game of the season against Real Betis with a 0-0 draw, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez informed his club's players in the Bernabeu locker room that Mbappé would not be a player of the Merengue squad.
Real Madrid had long hoped to sign France's World Cup winner, and were really sure that it would be the culmination of a flirtation that began when Mbappé burst onto the scene in the Monaco team that reached the Champions League semifinals in 2017.
Mbappé has been a self-professed Real Madrid fan since he was a child, when he had posters of Cristiano Ronaldo in a Real Madrid shirt on his wall.
The big question: what changed?
Mbappé's decision is not entirely motivated by money, but that has played a role.
About a month ago, PSG were very strong and said they would offer him that huge signing-on fee to stay for two more years.
The Spanish champions said yes. There were also negotiations over image rights, Real Madrid always want 50% of those, but they had to go below that figure to convince Mbappé.
Or at least they thought they had convinced him. Even when Mbappé chose PSG back then, his people were insisting to Real Madrid that he would end up there one day.
The information you heard from the Real Madrid side is that they were completely sure, they were convinced that everything was settled, they felt they had their word.
PSG's proposal is less dramatic than it seems, because it's something that happens anyway with big stars. They are asked about coaches and big transfers, especially at PSG, where the influence of the coach is less than elsewhere.
While Kylian's mother and father are his closest advisors and look after his affairs, with the close help of his lawyer, Delphine Verheyden, the decision was entirely up to him and there was a significant change in attitude.
Qatar World Cup and PSG's owners, a key link
The link between this year's Qatar World Cup and PSG's Qatari owners is clear. The pressure from Qatar went to the political authorities in France and even the French president, Emmanuel Macron, was involved in pressuring Mbappé to stay.
It seemed that nothing could change his mind about leaving. Even when there was talk of the arrival of one of his idols, Zinedine Zidane, as PSG coach, it was said that that would not be enough to convince him to stay in Paris.
But all those impressions changed in recent weeks and PSG players began to think he was staying.
From a purely footballing point of view, one element Mbappé might have considered is whether he can win the Ballon d'Or at PSG. For that to happen, he would need to have a near-perfect Champions League campaign with PSG, scoring 10 goals or more and winning the tournament, battling it out with Karim Benzema of Real Madrid, Erling Haaland, now at Manchester City, and Dusan Vlahovic at Juventus. It's harder to win an individual trophy at PSG.
But he may well still end up at the Bernabeu one day. His age is not a problem because, at 23, he knows he can stay a couple of years at PSG and help them win that elusive Champions trophy, then go to Madrid and have five or six years there in his prime.
For now, for Madrid it's an embarrassing conclusion to their pursuit of a player who would have been the first cast-iron Galactico since Cristiano Ronaldo's departure in 2018, or you could argue the first to arrive since Eden Hazard joined in 2019, they'll have to explain it to their fans somehow.
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