Saudi Arabia is willing to spend more to sign Kylian Mbappe than it did to buy Newcastle United.
Mbappe is a sensational talent but, even in a sport which has seen transfer spending reach enormous levels, the numbers are extraordinary.
Al-Hilal have offered a world-record £259million for the Paris Saint-Germain forward, who stands to earn a salary worth more than £600m when image rights are included.
Aware of his desire to join Real Madrid, Al-Hilal are supposedly even prepared to offer Mbappe a one-year deal before letting him move to Spain next summer.
That would mean almost £1billion for just one year’s worth of football.
There remains uncertainty over whether Mbappe would be prepared to move to Saudi Arabia but the bid is set to kick-off a transfer frenzy that could include Premier League clubs.
Chelsea, Manchester United and Tottenham are said to be interested in the 24-year-old, though none would appear realistic destinations this summer.
Mbappe has made it clear his dream is to join Real and Chelsea have financial fair play constraints after a year of huge spending, so a move to bring him to Stamford Bridge seems unlikely even if it would be a huge statement as the Blues rebuild under Mauricio Pochettino.
Sources at United have dismissed the prospect of a bid for Mbappe but PSG expect offers from elsewhere in what they say is a “hyper competitive” market for the striker.
There is next to no chance of Mbappe joining Spurs but PSG want to sign Harry Kane and the prospect of an incredible swap deal has been raised.
Whether Spurs could afford his vast wages is highly unlikely, but Daniel Levy will be keeping a close eye on how the transfer saga develops. Mbappe’s price will inflate the market, with Spurs able to point to his price in their negotiations over Kane.
The England captain is said to be reluctant to join PSG but Bayern Munich are considering a fresh approach after having a second bid worth £80m rejected.
Spurs want more than £100m and the Saudi bid for Mbappe could embolden Levy to stand firm in his valuation of Kane.
PSG are determined to sell Mbappe to avoid losing him on a free transfer to Real next summer. He has shown no desire to agree new terms and PSG have left him out of their squad for their pre-season tour.
The French champions are convinced that Real president Florentino Perez has an agreement in place for him to move to La Liga next year. PSG hope to spark a worldwide bidding frenzy this summer but Real are said to be intent on holding their nerve.
Sources in Spain have insisted Jude Bellingham will be their only superstar signing this summer, though Real were burned in a move for Mbappe in 2021 and will be wary.
Barcelona are said to have expressed an interest in the France captain but have well-known financial restrictions.
The Saudi move for Mbabbe is part of an extraordinary outlay by the country’s Public Investment Fund, which spent £300m on Newcastle in 2021 and has a 75 per cent stake in Al-Hilal, Al-Nassr, Al-Ittihad and Al-Ahli.
It seems unthinkable one of the world’s best talents could spend a season of his peak years in the Saudi Pro League, but it cannot be ruled out that he will be tempted by the huge offer.
If the move means he can join Real next summer than Mbappe stands to earn astronomical money before securing his dream move.