What if: Real Madrid sign Kylian Mbappe
Real Madrid will have left all their party vibes behind them in recent days, following their La Liga title win, as they look to focus on securing yet another piece of silverware in their UEFA Champions League final showdown against Juventus.
They will be fully confident heading into the showpiece match, but a team of their calibre, full of experienced professionals, will be all too aware that one is only ever as good as their next performance – reputation is good, but counts for little if it’s not harnessed correctly in the heat of battle.
Already, though, those involved with dealings on the football transfer market will be busy looking to tie down deals for the best of the rest on the open market – and AS Monaco’s promising 18-year-old starlet Kylian Mbappe is said to be a wanted man by the Madridistas.
A player who caught many people's attention this season, both in France’s Ligue 1 and in the UCL, Mbappe is apparently being targeted by the Spanish champions.
How might he fit into life at the Santiago Bernabeu, and is he the right man for them? Let’s take a look.
Mbappe the French connection Zidane needs for the future
Everyone knows how exceptional Zinedine Zidane’s management of Madrid’s season has been. Sure, their early exit in the Copa del Rey wasn’t ideal, but that aside the manner of Zizou’s expertise this season has been nothing short of magisterial.
What’s also clear to see is that he hasn’t been afraid to shake things up at Madrid and give some of the more underused players a shining role at key stages of the season. It’s widely believed that Los Merengues have the strongest squad available to any European team around, but that has been as much down to Zidane’s man-management as it has been due to the players’ obvious, innate capabilities.
Simply put, Zidane has maximised the impact of the players at his disposal – but he is yet to properly put his stamp on this team, something which should make Barcelona and Atletico Madrid very nervous.
Getting Mbappe is clearly a high priority right now, considering the world-record £103 million bid they reportedly had rejected by Monaco a few days ago, and considering that was their first attempt at capturing his services, one can be sure Madrid will come back with another, heftier bid on the table.
It might just prove sizeable enough to make Paul Pogba’s signing on fee look less like a record and more like a receipt after an over-zealous spending spree down the local discount store.
It’ll be huge, in other words.
For Madrid, Mbappe – a Frenchman and rising talent – would be the ideal investment. The player himself has already publicly declared Zizou his idol, has the sort of elegant flair the manager likes in his players and has already proven himself capable against the best teams around.
He can score regularly, too, as evidenced by this succinct Squawka tweet:
Kylian Mbappé was involved in a goal every 62.1 minutes in Ligue 1 this season.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 24, 2017
Ludicrous potential. pic.twitter.com/KZEIJTk9SA
He scored against Gigi Buffon for crying out loud. He’s good. Scratch that – he’s already brilliant. Imagine how perfect he could become with Zidane mentoring him, communicating with him every day and the pair dovetailing to conjure a lovable bromance that hasn’t been seen since the days of Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Imagine.
On a more serious, tactical note, Mbappe’s arrival to the Madrid squad would take some of the immense pressure off the overworked Ronaldo, and allow their greatest goalscorer to rest up more next season and let his fellow team-mates share the load better than they have been doing this season.
Because, for as good as Madrid have been this campaign, they have once more relied far too heavily on CR7 to score the goals.
Mbappe could be a new dawn – a player already good enough to deliver the goods on the best stage, a player with pace, energy, hunger to play regularly and a willingness to earn his right to feature in the starting XI.
Benzema or Morata – or both – might have to make way in the name of progress
Selling Karim Benzema would free up the substantial extra cash needed to force Monaco’s hand. By squeezing at least a £60 million bid from interested party Arsenal, Madrid could invest at least half that into topping up their initial bid for Mbappe.
And as stubborn as they were the first time, they would be plain silly to reject at £130-plus million bid from a club like Madrid, especially considering the Franch starlet might not enjoy such a price-inflating season in 207/18.
His title-sealing strike against St. Etienne brought him to an accomplished 15 goals in the league and while that was some distance off the pace of Edinson Cavani and Alexandre Lacazette, it was his pace in Monaco's system of hitting teams on the break and playing fast, incisive football in the final third that really allowed him to stand out.
Indeed, that is a trait that is highly valued by Zidane’s system. Playing metronomic, methodical football that dictates tempo and possession when they want, he equally loves to have the players with pace, lightning-quick reactions and exquisitely accurate touches that can put teams to the sword in seconds.
Let’s be honest, it is surely only a matter of time until he pulls on the famous white shirt of Madrid, but when he does it is going to be at the expense of one of the strikers already plying their trade with Spain’s league champions.
Alvaro Mora, like Benzema, could be headed for the exit door. There is talk of Morata joining AC Milan very shortly and that could also free up the relevant cash to bring Mbappe in ahead of many people’s scheduled timelines.
A lot of pundits think that Monaco want to give him another settled year at the French title-winners in the run up to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, but as Monaco's vice-chairman Vadim Vasilyev has already conceded that Mbappe can decide his own future, despite their reluctance to sell, there is plenty of reasons for Madrid fans to be cheerful that they will get the hottest young property in world football.
He might cost them a pretty penny, but the club are well used to breaking the bank. Next season, with this one not even fully over yet, is already looking pretty good for them.