In a bold move to attract the crème de la crème of football talent, Saudi Arabian football club Al Hilal has placed a record-breaking bid of €300 million ($332 million) for French football sensation, Kylian Mbappé. This audacious step comes in the wake of Al Hilal’s failed attempt to snag Lionel Messi, another football titan.
Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), Mbappé’s current team, has given Al Hilal the green light to open negotiations directly with the striker. However, sources close to ESPN suggest that Mbappé is not drawn to the offer. This development follows a contract stalemate between the 2018 World Cup winner and PSG, arising from Mbappé’s refusal to extend his contract by 12 months.
The current indications are that Mbappé might make his exit as a free agent at the end of the forthcoming season, potentially making a move to Real Madrid. If this occurs, ESPN sources suggest he could bag a whopping €100m signing bonus. An additional €80m bonus could be in the offing if he opts to stay with PSG through September.
Mbappé was notably absent from PSG’s recent preseason tour in Japan. The French club appears resolved to accept an offer for him unless they can entice him to commit to a new contract.
Al Hilal’s bid for Mbappé, if accepted, would make him the most costly player in the history of football, outstripping the $262m PSG shelled out to secure Neymar from Barcelona in 2017.
This potential transfer reflects Saudi Arabia’s escalated recruitment drive, which aims to import the top players in football to the nation’s league. Already, top-tier footballers such as Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kanté, Roberto Firmino, and even Cristiano Ronaldo, have joined Saudi clubs. Furthermore, Premier League stars Riyad Mahrez and Jordan Henderson have also been rumored to be on the move.
Saudi Arabia’s football-focused investment spree is part of a broader effort to stamp their presence on the global sports map, utilizing the kingdom’s oil wealth. This move is perceived as a strategy by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to generate new job opportunities and openings for the nation’s youth.