Kylian Mbappé finds himself caught between Scrooge McDuck money pits | Kylian Mbappé
KYLIAN, IT WAS REALLY NOTHING
Currently on a money-making summer jolly in Japan where they have pre-season kickabouts lined up with Al-Nassr, Cerezo Osaka and Inter, Paris Saint-Germain are hawking tickets for an open training session for just shy of £20 apiece. All comers are welcome, as long as they pony up a score. Any wheelchair users wishing to attend can do so too, as long as they have the requisite ticket … which costs the exact same amount.
While the previous business dealings of this state-owned Qatari clown show suggest it has apparently bottomless reserves of wealth, the brass neck of them charging anyone, let alone disabled fans, to watch their players jog half-heartedly around a pitch, stage a game of head-tennis and a few rondos before trooping back to the dressing-room, conveys the impression their Scrooge McDuck money pit might not be as overflowing with gold coins as we have been led to believe. But in the extremely unlikely event they have fallen on hard times, it would go a long way towards explaining why they are so desperate to sell Kylian Mbappé to somebody – anybody! – before he does one from the French capital next summer to join Real Madrid on a free.
Of course, anyone who pays to watch PSG training won’t actually get to see said player tut-tutting his teammates for any misplaced passes. Mbappé has been left at home by members of a club hierarchy fed up with his steadfast refusal to activate a one-year contract extension that would enable them to kick this particular can of worms down the road for another 12 months. Imagine their unbridled delight, then, upon hearing that Al-Hilal, one of four Saudi clubs in which the country’s sovereign wealth fund, PIF, recently acquired a 75% stake, have submitted a world-record bid for Mbappé believed to be worth €300m (£259m) and are willing take him for just one season, if that is what it takes to complete the deal marked “Football Eats Itself”.
To nobody’s great surprise, PSG are ready to snap Al-Hilal’s arm off at the shoulder for such a preposterous sum, except there’s one small snag. The Saudi club have not yet held talks with their target and have no idea if Mbappé has any interest in debasing himself by playing in what has become the world’s most high profile Sunday league, give or take a few big-name ringers.
As well as Real Madrid and Al-Hilal, Mbappé is also believed to have admirers at Barcelona, Inter, Chelsea, Manchester United and – no tittering at the back, please – Tottenham Hotspur. He wouldn’t be human if he didn’t at least consider the Saudi’s club’s mega-money offer for a season-long sabbatical in Riyadh playing alongside Rúben Neves, Kalidou Koulibaly and Aleksandar Mitrovic.
TREVOR FRANCIS (1954-2023)
The former England forward Trevor Francis, Britain’s first £1m player and the scorer of a European Cup-winning goal for Nottingham Forest, has died at the age of 69. We probably don’t need to tell you that Francis was a beautifully balanced player who had a distinguished career that started with his Birmingham City debut at 16 – where he scored 133 goals in 280 appearances – and included spells with Forest, Manchester City, Sampdoria, Atalanta and Rangers before he went into management, initially as a player-manager. Francis played 52 times for England from 1977 to 1986, featuring at the 1982 World Cup, where he scored twice. Gary Lineker, a former England teammate, tweeted: “Deeply saddened to hear that Trevor Francis has died. A wonderful footballer and lovely man. Was a pleasure to work alongside him both on the pitch and on the telly. RIP Trevor.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“MLS has been on this sort of rocket ship for a while … I think the time is going to come where these great things become expected, special moments are going to be expected and it’s not going to be ‘boy, is this the most special time in the history of the league?’ The best player in the history of the game made [us] his league of choice” – MLS chief suit Don Garber is still as high as a kite after watching Lionel Messi score on his Inter Miami debut. Someone find him a chill-out room.
TODAY AT THE WORLD CUP
Italy 1-0 Argentina. Cristiana Girelli’s 87th-minute header gave Italy victory and stretched Argentina’s winless World Cup run to 10 games in four tournaments. Ouch. “The result was somewhat unfair,” sniffed Argentina manager German Portanova. “A draw would have been the right score.”
Germany 6-0 Morocco. Alexandra Popp scored twice in an admirably ruthless Group H thrashing of the African debutants. “She is our captain and a playmaker of the very best,” gushed Germany manager Martina Voss-Tecklenburg.
Brazil 4-0 Panama. Ary Borges scored a hat-trick and served up a backheel assist for the Seleção in their Group F slapdown of World Cup minnows Panama.
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