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Mbappe’s fate is in the hands of Griezmann



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Should they add France’s other chief footballing star to their ranks, the Parisians might just be persuaded to part with Mbappé, who recently raised eyebrows with comments that cast doubt on his future at the Ligue 1 champions: “Maybe it’s the time to take on more responsibilities,” the 20-year-old declared late last month. “Maybe at PSG, of course, or maybe elsewhere with a new project.”

Mbappé’s relationship with PSG strike partner Neymar has grown increasingly tense in recent months, with the Frenchman unhappy with his colleague’s prima donna-like antics, the preferential treatment that he is given by PSG president Nasser Al Khelaifi, and the significantly higher wage that he pockets. Indeed, the Brazilian earns a full 27 million euros more than the 10 million paid to Mbappé, who Madrid would be in a position to hand a much improved salary.

It’s a state of affairs that has contributed to the PSG dressing room splitting down the middle into two factions. What’s more, the French capital club’s expected appointment of Neymar’s countryman Leonardo in place of sporting director Antero Henrique is a move that further weakens Mbappé’s position.

That Mbappé wants to play for Madrid is without question. It is something that ex-PSG boss Unai Emery confirmed last month, telling an interview about the club’s efforts to dissuade the player from seeking a switch to Spain in 2018. “Among everybody we convinced him about the project in France and made him stay – we had to set money over the table,” Emery said, adding: “He wanted Madrid eyes closed.” Now, Griezmann could help to make that happen…

Pérez was planning to sign Mbappé in two years’ time…

A summer Mbappé arrival would in fact be ahead of schedule. In his pursuit of the striker, Madrid chief Florentino Pérez had devised a strategy similar to that used to sign Eden Hazard – a two-year plan that saw the Belgian stall on a Chelsea renewal and, in the process, allow Pérez to buy him for a relatively affordable fee. With Mbappé’s deal expiring in 2023, there has been confidence at Madrid that PSG would sell in 2021 if they felt he was unlikely to extend. Should Mbappé agree improved PSG terms, meanwhile, Madrid want him to negotiate a release clause – the lack of which has proved a major obstacle towards signing Neymar.

As has been revealed in documents uncovered by Football Leaks and published by Der Spiegel, Madrid were close to signing Mbappé two years ago, having agreed a fee of 180m euros plus add-ons with Monaco at the end of the 2016/17 season. However, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema all still among the LaLiga giants’ striking options at the time, Mbappé was not sure of his chances of earning a regular place in the team… and chose PSG instead.

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There also appears to be a new challenger in the form of Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk, who helped guide the club to their sixth Champions League title. a narrow miss of their first-ever Premier League title despite posting the third highest point total in the competition’s history, as well as helping the Netherlands to the Nations League final.

However, Ronaldo may have made an argument of his own after helping Juventus to yet another Serie A title, while his hat-trick against Switzerland in the Nations League semi-final proved instrumental in his nation’s quest for their latest major trophy.

And with Ronaldo’s Portugal getting the better of Van Dijk’s Netherlands 1-0 in the final thanks to Goncalo Guedes’ 60th minute winner, there is some question whether the forward has vaulted himself back into the conversation.

But Ronaldo did not wish to discuss that in the mixed zone following the victory.

When asked if the Portugal’s victory takes him closer to a sixth Ballon d’Or, Ronaldo answered: “The goal for the match was to win and to play well.”

Ronaldo continued to be pressed as he left the mixed zone, but when once again asked about the award, told reporters: “No, I will not speak about the Ballon d’Or.”

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