In years gone by, it was obvious what Real Madrid offered top players. While their inconsistent form in La Liga pointed to some structural issues over the course of an arduous league campaign, their unprecedented success in the Champions League made them the biggest story in European football. The pull of Real Madrid largely remains but something is changing amid their strange pursuit of Kylian Mbappe.

It’s not exactly clear what Florentino Perez can offer him at the moment and, for the first time in a long time, the Santiago Bernabeu doesn’t look appealing. As was evident in Florentino Perez’s deranged attempts to keep the European Super League afloat, Madrid’s finances are in dire straits. With work being done on the stadium (which may not even be ready ahead of the new season), the club have had to sell Raphael Varane, as well as allow influential captain Sergio Ramos to move to Paris Saint-Germain.

Now, clearly, to suggest they have no money – as Perez seemed to allude to during the grotesque plans to break away from the rest of Europe – would be (and was) entirely disingenuous. Indeed, details of David Alaba’s contract were leaked and, safe to say, that agreement doesn’t exactly plead poverty.

However, the structure of the club is changing. Zinedine Zidane walked away, lamenting the lack of backing he received during his second stint as manager and the central defence who won them three league titles and four Champions League titles have disappeared.

In Carlo Ancelotti, they’ve turned to a man they sacked because of his relatively poor record in relentless league competition. Sure, the Italian has conquered almost every country he’s worked in but a 23-year managerial career largely working at only the best in Europe (Napoli and Everton aside) has yielded only four league triumphs.

Throw in the fact he wasn’t exactly tearing up trees at Goodison Park and there’s a strong argument to suggest it’s a step down from Zidane, who wasn’t exactly considered to be on the cutting edge of the coaching front.

Luka Modric and Karim Benzema are another year older and the big investments made on Vinicius Junior, Rodrygo and Eden Hazard simply have not worked out.

To tempt Mbappe, Real Madrid surely need to be in a position to challenge for the game’s major trophies. Were the Frenchman to leave PSG, a club who can afford to pay him pretty much whatever he wants, the decision looks like one made out of ambition.

What then, would be the sense in a move to this incarnation of Real Madrid? Aside from Perez’s blatant hypocrisy and dwindling status in the eyes of those outside Spain, there is not much of anything.

Their blatant pursuit of Mbappe at the expense of anything else will, rather ironically, make it harder for Real Madrid to get him. Selling the house to buy an expensive painting won’t exactly do much for your long-term prospects, after all.

PSG might not exactly be the perfect place for Mbappe, if indeed he does want to win the Champions League. Still, with Mauricio Pochettino impressing on a European front since his appointment and an aggressive recruitment drive already this summer, the French giants are at least proving to their star striker that they are prepared to offer him the platform to achieve those dreams at the Parc des Princes.

Rather than sign the next five years away in either Paris or heading to Real Madrid, Mbappe would be better suited to signing a short-term deal at his current employers to wait and see if Perez can get his house in order. Given all we’ve seen in 2021, that may never happen.

 


 

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