Real Madrid's required €180million gamble
The brightest young star on the European football map is Kylian Mbappé. Monaco's 18-year old forward could become the world's most expensive footballer if his €180million-move to Real Madrid is completed. And it would all make sense.
Monday news broke in Spain that Real Madrid and Monaco have agreed a deal in principle that would send Kylian Mbappé to the Spanish capital. It would also send the already bonkers transfer fees into overdrive, with reports from Marca stating the fee agreed was a whopping €180million package (€160million + €20million). That would comfortably break the €105million Manchester United paid Juventus for Paul Pogba in the summer of 2016. Pogba, aged 23 when the deal went through, had already played a World Cup, a EURO 2016 final and the Champions League final in 2015. Mbappé made his debut for Monaco in December 2015. The contrasts are startling, however, they both represent a common “risk and reward”-scenario which the bigger teams seem to put into good use nowadays.
Examples of these are Manchester United's potential €80million transfer for Anthony Martial (bonuses and clauses included) and Bayern München's purchase of Renato Sanches that is reported to be worth a potential €80million as well. Both were 19 at the time of the transfer. And this is perhaps where the risk part lays. Though both Martial and Sanches have not proven their massive fees worthy just yet, the age question suggests that they will be given more chances to do so. This is the reward part. Simple logic explains why a 19-year old “flop” has a chance of turning that around as opposed to a 28-year old “flop”. So where does Mbappé fit into all of this?
How the Mbappé fee makes sense
27 goals in 58 matches aged 17 and 18 (Mbappé's birthday is December 20th 1998) suggests that Monaco have found something special. 6 in 10 in the Champions League (scoring in 5 of 6 knockout matches versus the likes of Man City, Borussia Dortmund and Juventus) proves that he might be a “once in a lifetime”-talent. Keywords: might be. And this is why every single of Europe's top clubs are ready to thrown everything and their grandmother at the Monégasque Principality hoping they might clinch a deal for Mbappé. In today's day and age, the reported €180million may actually prove to be a bargain in the long term.
On the pitch, if Mbappé lives up to his potential, he is a surefire multiple time Ballon d'Or-winner. That alone entices clubs who are eager for success. Having that same player be the front figure of your club could also mean serious economical advantages. Real Madrid recorded revenues of €620.1million for the 2015/2016-season, which was 7,4% higher than the season before. One can only assume that number will go up this season. According to Forbes, Real Madrid are valued at €3,3billion making them the third most valuable team in world football (Manchester United and FC Barcelona are slightly ahead for 2017).
With high profile commercial deals with Adidas (a reported 10-year deal where Madrid will earn €1billion between 2015 and 2024). Madrid will also earn 22,5% of all sales on club-branded merchandise, estimated around €30million-per-season. Adidas are also to pay Madrid certain bonuses for success on the pitch. The Fly Emirates-deal is also reported to be renegotiated, and could be worth more than Manchester United's gigantic £53million-a-year-deal with Chevrolet. And we are only scratching the surface with Real Madrid and their financial fortitude.
So how much of a financial risk does €180million for Kylian Mbappé really present Real Madrid? How much of a risk did Manchester United really take when splashing out for Paul Pogba? Though the personalities, the positions and the ages are different, the results are oddly similar. In the day and age where clubs care about winning off the pitch as much as on it, these risks are becoming more of a necessity. Continued winning, continued growth means continued income, which again represents a scenario where clubs will have to reach further into their pockets to compete.
Supporters have for years complained about being priced away from today's football, but the reality is that the clubs themselves are pricing each other away. The likes of Arsenal and Liverpool are in serious danger of falling away from the top spots in world football if they don't start delving into their pockets. AC Milan have proven that they are ready to face that battle this season with how much they are paying. Manchester United and Real Madrid lead the way for an obscene, yet necessary evil both for world football and its consumers.
“Florentino always wins”
If we are to move away from the business side of things, and look at this in laymen's terms (as I personally think football fans should do more often (words like net spend are becoming awfully redundant)), Madrid are doing a fabulous job of clearing space for the arrival of Mbappé. The €180million could easily be found in the reported €30million sale of Danilo to Manchester City, and Álvaro Morata's transfer to Chelsea which could be worth as much as €80million. They received a reported €8million for Mariano Díaz (Lyon), a reported €5–7million for Diego Llorente (Real Sociedad) and a reported €3million for Burgui (Alavés) which means they have “earned” over €120million this off-season. James Rodríguez loan move to Bayern Munich will also help their cause, while the €15million signing of Dani Ceballos and €24million purchase of Theo Hernández means Madrid have still raised over €80million for their “Mbappé piggybank”.
How can Madrid generate this sort of income? They know this market better than most, considering they helped create it. Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009, Kaká in 2009 and Gareth Bale in 2013 are recent examples, but the likes of Zinédine Zidane (2001) and Luis Figo (2000) were both seen as trail-blazing transfers in regards to spiking transfer fees. Florentino Pérez, Real Madrid's current president, was the mastermind behind all of these moves. And it seems certain he has the know-how of controlling the market. It's not for nothing that the phrase “Florentino siempre gana” (Florentino always wins) has become a familiar one in Spanish football.
Madrid's new project
All in all, Kylian Mbappé represents the crown jewel in Florentino, Zidane and Madrid's new project. Whereas the prestige was in signing the biggest stars currently in football, €180million for what, in today's view, seems like football's next big thing, is a required gamble. €45million for Vinícius Júnior, a 16-year old Brazilian from Flamengo who many believe to be the next Neymar, could also be filed under the same category. The same can be said for Norwegian starlet Martin Ødegaard, though his reported fee was way less. Though many believe heis already a flop, may always prove valuable. Ødegaard, aged 18, can still prove his doubters wrong and become the superstar many expect him to be. And if he fails, at €8.5million he was worth the risk. In five years time, Mbappé will be 23, Vinícius will be 21 and what will €180million and €45million really be worth?
The idea of signing Mbappé also makes sense in the current Madrid system. With Zidane's 4–3–3-system (sometimes 4–4–1–1) being integral to their success, one can imagine Mbappé being unleashed down one of the wings with two out of Bale, Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo. No spotlight in world football shines brighter than those at Santiago Bernabéu, but the aforementioned three will help guide some of it away from the 18-year old Frenchman. Being under the tutelage of someone like Cristiano will, more likely than not, only prove inspiring and perhaps motivating for Mbappé. A case of “seeing the best, learning the from the best, be the best” might be a stroke of genius from the man that seems to have a key role in all of this.
That man being Zinédine Zidane, who seemingly has pushed through his idea of a young stable of supertalents representing the future core of Real Madrid. Jesús Vallejo (20) will be apart of the first team this season, Marco Asensio (21) continues to shine and the addition of Theo (19) and Ceballos (20) underlines this. Ødegaard (18) and Vinícius Júnior (16) are prized possessions in Madrid's long term goal of global domination. Kylian Mbappé, at age 18, proves the required risk both on and off field for Real Madrid. There are 180 million reasons why Monaco will let go, and even more reasons why Madrid will do what's necessary to seal who they believe will be their main man for the next decade.