Mbappe’s potential Saudi move would alter the footballing landscape forever

2 min read

As a summer transfer window fuelled almost entirely by Saudi-based business trundles on, by far the most poignant story of them all is gaining momentum with reports that Al Hilal have tabled a bid to sign Kylian Mbappe for £259m. Yes, you read that correctly. 

The France international has just one year left on his deal at Paris Saint-Germain and looks destined to depart the club for free next summer, with Real Madrid his most likely destination. 

The Paris club are desperate to strike a deal for their prized asset to avoid losing him for free in 12 months’ time and unsurprisingly there has not been a shortage of clubs enquiring over his availability. 

Chelsea, Manchester United, Barcelona and even Tottenham have reportedly been in contact with PSG to see if there is a chance of them acquiring Mbappe’s services but none would be able to lay a glove on Al Hilal’s eye-watering offer. 

The Saudi club are proposing a one-year deal for the 24-year-old which means he would still be able to join Real Madrid as planned next summer and lay claim to the £160m sign-on bonus Los Blancos are allegedly offering. 

The terms of Mbappe’s proposed contract are mind-boggling to say the least. It is being reported that Al Hilal are willing to pay the 2018 World Cup winner a staggering €700m a year should he join which equates to €58m per month; €13m per week and €1.9m per day. 

Mbappe would not be human if he didn’t at least consider the proposal for a year-long sabbatical in the Middle East. Should he take up this mega-money offer and move to the league which has dominated the back pages for months, not one person in the Frenchman’s bloodline would ever have to work again for years, decades, perhaps even centuries to come. 

But looking at it through a solely footballing lens, what does this mean for the game as a whole? During recent months we have seen countless players who are at the peak of their powers trade a career in the Premier League for a hugely lucrative move to what is in reality a third-rate league and will still be for years to come as it undergoes major redevelopment. 

When Cristiano Ronaldo moved following his toxic fall out with Manchester United it was a newsworthy event and interesting but much more accepted that a goliath of the game would snaffle up one last substantial payday for the final few years of his distinguished career. 

Now, though, with players like Ruben Neves, Riyad Mahrez, Aleksandar Mitrovic and potentially Mbappe either sealing or looking likely to join Ronaldo in the Saudi Premier League, the footballing landscape is enduring a seismic shift – and this is only the beginning. 

As more high-profile names make the switch to the Middle East, there will be a natural uptake in interest from the wider footballing public, especially among the new-age ‘legacy fans’ whom tend to follow the career of specific players rather than have an allegiance to a particular club; Mbappe being the posterboy for this particular genre of supporter. 

Streaming services will be introduced in Europe and it will become more and more accepted for top-level players in their prime to make the move if an interested party makes an offer, in turn debilitating the Premier League, Bundesliga and the already massively depleted Serie A and La Liga. 

Simply put, Europe’s major super leagues will be unable to keep up with the financial muscle of a privately funded super league that can cherry-pick the world’s greatest talents as they please by dangling a 24 carat contract right under their nose. 

Harry Kane is another player who is being linked with a switch to Al Hilal as uncertainty around the Englishman’s future continues to be resolved, and there is no doubt that the offer would become a lot more appealing to the Tottenham man should there be an opportunity to play alongside a player of Mbappe’s quality. 

Off the pitch, how long is it before the world’s greatest managers begin to emigrate, too? Pep Guardiola will be every Saudi club’s top target and the Spaniard is probably only a couple of years away from reaching the end of his life cycle at City after winning all there is to win in Manchester. If he did make the move, the allure for players would intensify tenfold.

The floodgates have officially opened. If Mbappe makes the controversial switch to Saudi Arabia, they will be blown straight off the hinges. 

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