As news of Lionel Messi’s Barcelona departure sends tremors across the football world, the board of Real Madrid will have found it hard to keep the smiles from their faces.
Ahead of a new season it is great news for their hopes of domestic success but, beyond that, also gives them reason to believe this summer’s transfer window is opening up perfectly for them.
Messi had been expected to stay at Barca, so Thursday evening’s bombshell announcement that they could not commit to the deal “due to economic and structural issues” has left everyone guessing where he could head next.
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Manchester City were immediately playing down a move, despite being interested in the past, while Chelsea, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain all naturally come into the discussion.
For Madrid, it’s this latest development around Messi that boosts their own plans for a super-strength revamp over the next 12 months.
Primarily, they will hope this opens the door for him to head to Paris and finally encourage PSG to let them move ahead with completing a transfer they feel is inevitable anyway.
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PSG explore Messi deal, Mbappe move more likely
Kylian Mbappe has been Real Madrid's only significant target since the free transfer signing of David Alaba from Bayern Munich, yet a breakthrough has been difficult to find. The French club have been adamant he will remain with them in Ligue 1.
Madrid have always respected PSG’s position over the situation despite knowing Mbappe wants to join them. This has been underlined by the fact the player has not committed his future by signing a new deal to stay in the French capital.
Nasser Al-Khelafi has been so stern over his position that he recently stressed that PSG "will never sell him and he will never leave on a free." It was a slightly bizarre statement yet the tone was clear.
With Messi available, things can change. PSG are one of the only clubs who could afford him and, as an Mbappe replacement, he’s as good as it gets. PSG have long indicated, privately, they would look at signing Messi if it became possible. They are now beginning to explore the details that would involve.
Of course, on one hand you could see this as a way to convince Mbappe to sign up. Playing as part of a front three with Neymar and Messi is quite the temptation. Yet this was a summer when Gianluigi Donnarumma, Sergio Ramos, Gini Wijnaldum and Achraf Hakimi signed, sending the wage bill into orbit. Financial Fair Play rules may be relaxed right now but there still has to be some limit to this spending, surely?
Real Madrid President Florentino Perez will take the view that a pursuit of Messi means Mbappe has to become available. Madrid had not intended to spend any serious cash in this window unless the exciting young French forward became available. Let’s see if this can be done.
It is thought Mbappe would cost towards €150 million if there was a deal to be negotiated. If not? Well, Madrid are confident he will sign for them next year, anyway, on a free transfer.
Pogba, Haaland back on agenda too
Madrid have not been big players in this market yet somehow everything has been playing out exactly as they would wish.
Over the past couple of years Madrid have not held quite the same financial power they once did, yet their ambitions and dreams remain as clear as ever - and big-name signings are suddenly all starting to look attainable.
As well as the Mbappe situation, Paul Pogba and Erling Haaland are the other two superstar names regularly talked about in connection with a Bernabeu transfer and Madrid have reason to feel optimistic about being able to sign them too.
Generally the era of Galactico signings is behind them yet in these strange times, clubs are adapting to new visions of the future.
Like Mbappe, Pogba’s contract at Manchester United ends next summer and he will be available for free. Meanwhile, Haaland has a €75m release clause at Borussia Dortmund that kicks in after next season. Madrid have always believed that, in the right circumstances, both players would choose to join them. From every angle, things are looking good in that sense right now.
So at a time when morale inside Barcelona must be as low as ever, Madrid truly sense opportunity.
This summer or next, Mbappe will join them, while Pogba and Haaland will be available at a combined price of just €75m. It’s an almost unbelievable situation.
If this truly is it for Messi at Barca and there is no way back, La Liga’s landscape is changed forever. And Barca will need to find a response to the stunning plan Madrid are ready to put into action.
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