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Real Madrid panic as PSG ready to cash €300m on Mbappe



According to a report from MARCA, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez is set to meet with the leaders of Paris Saint-Germain today

Paris Saint-Germain will take the money for Kylian Mbappe wherever it comes from. The superstar forward has been on the market for less than a week, and the suitors have started queuing up. The first to move was Saudi Pro League side Al-Hilal, who offered PSG, and Mbappe, an unprecedented figure to coax the player to the Middle East.

Despite animosity between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, the Parisians will have no qualms about accepting the bid, and who can blame them? A club, who is not a direct rival, is handing them €300 million (£259m/$333m) for a footballer. Players aren’t worth that. This is a cash commitment that simply cannot be beaten.

PSG have made it clear to Mbappe that they don’t care where the money comes from. They are selling to the highest bidder, and someone has already fielded an offer that simply no one else will touch.

But it’s not that simple. Mbappe, if reports are to be believed, has made it clear that he would rather sit on the bench — and wait for his contract to expire — than play for Al-Hilal. The Frenchman has coveted a Real Madrid move for years, twice rejecting the Spanish giants in favour of money. However, now the moral principles are really kicking in. Around $2.1 million (£1.6m) per day, it appears, is just far too much.

But the real losers here might just be Madrid. It had been expected that they would sign Mbappe on a free in 2024. But the departure of Karim Benzema — ironically, to the Pro League — has left them with a hole to fill, and since Mbappe made it clear that he would be on the market more immediately, it was assumed that Madrid would pay up, ideally at a discount price.

Now, though, competition has emerged. Los Blancos are being outbid, outthought, and potentially left facing a year, or longer, with a glaring hole in their side, while watching their dream target spend time elsewhere.

The contract
On paper, this should make sense. Al-Hilal have reportedly offered Mbappe a one-year contract, theoretically opening the door for him to play less than 12 months overseas before finally suiting up at Santiago Bernabeu. It would be a highly-paid holiday before the real stuff begins.

Yet it’s hard to trust such a promise. With that money, in such a lavish lifestyle, in an improving league, one year could well become two, or perhaps three. Once Mbappe sets foot in Saudi Arabia — if he does — then the mandate of a one-year excursion seems less likely. Unwritten promises are seldom fulfilled in the footballing world.

The exact contract details are yet to be made public. That is, of course, for Mbappe to negotiate — if he desires. But the broad outline suggests that Al-Hilal are offering the player more money, and more perks, than PSG ever could. The salary itself, a cool €700m (£605m/$776m) per year, also includes image rights, a sticking point of his negotiations with both PSG and Madrid last summer, when the forward made a last-minute U-turn and opted to stay in Paris for, theoretically, two more years.

So, Mbappe would increase his salary by 1000 percent, and also be free to hold on to all of his sponsorships — while also pursuing others. This says nothing of the life of luxury, god-like status, and constant adulation he would receive in the Pro League.

If this potential move is a money-making decision, Mbappe can have as much of it as he likes. Further reports have suggested that Al-Hilal would be more than open for the Frenchman to pen a multi-year deal, too. This is a one-year pledge that could quite comfortably become far more.

Madrid can’t risk him going somewhere else
It’s a transfer, then, that would require immense amounts of trust from Madrid. Rarely are player pathways so clear than that of Mbappe to the Bernabeu. With most stars, there is some guesswork, or jeopardy involved. Erling Haaland, for example, had multiple suitors before picking Manchester City. Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami move was impossible to call until the last hour before it materialised.

But it is common knowledge that Mbappe wants to be a Madrid player. He quite literally wrote a book about it. Madrid, meanwhile, have been quietly confident about the whole thing. Even when Benzema announced his sudden departure a few months ago, there was comfort to be found in the fact that Mbappe wanted out. His whole public plea to leave was effectively a message to Madrid.

Los Blancos have become complacent in this knowledge. They haven’t pursued any of the other big names on the market this summer, on the understanding that Mbappe would soon arrive. Harry Kane, Victor Osimhen, Randal Kolo Muani and others have all flown by on the assumption that Mbappe would be wearing white by August.

But now, if Mbappe does go somewhere else, the whole transfer policy needs re-evaluating. An unplanned, unsanctioned move will need to happen. And it’s during those scrambles for imperfect fits that budgets and negotiating positions go out of the window. This could get very messy, very quickly.

Ancelotti needs a goalscorer
In the first half of their first pre-season contest against AC Milan on Sunday, Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti deployed a new lineup . Once a 4-3-3 loyalist, he switched to a two-striker system, starting Brahim Diaz and Joselu up front. The results were lacking.

Joselu ran a lot, but didn’t get into the right spaces for Madrid’s technical midfielders to find him. Diaz, for his part, looked lost, a No.10 asked to play as a second striker. The whole thing didn’t exactly inspire confidence, and Los Blancos trailed, 2-0, at half-time.

The second 45 minutes were more encouraging. Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo entered the fold, and Madrid scored three against Milan’s second-string defence. But impactful as the subs were, neither of the Brazilians are natural strikers. Both, arguably, prefer an assist.

It was, admittedly, just the one game. Still, if there were already doubts about the lack of goals in this side, they were only worsened. Here is a team that certainly needs a striker, Mbappe or otherwise.

The good news is, there are other options available. Kolo Muani, Dusan Vlahovic, Goncalo Ramos, and — for a lot of money — Osimhen are all available. Any of those would provide an immense upgrade to this side. In an Mbappe-less scenario, Madrid would probably be delighted with bringing one of them in.

All of them would perhaps be a more natural fit to replace Benzema, too. Osimhen, in particular, figures to be an enticing fit alongside Vinicius and Rodygo. Still, despite his 31 goals and Serie A winner’s medal, the Nigeria star is not Mbappe. None of the alternatives are.

Forced into spending more than they want
This has already been an expensive transfer window in the Spanish capital. Club president Florentino Perez, a famously shrewd negotiator, spent big on Jude Bellingham, splashing an initial €103m (£88m/$110m) to bring the Englishman to Madrid. He followed that with a not-insignificant deal for Arda Guler, a transfer that reportedly cost $45m (£35m) after signing on fees and money paid out to the Turkish teenager’s entourage.

Madrid have no problem spending big — they have proved as much in the past. But they don’t like getting ripped off. There is a complacency that comes with being the Real Madrid brand. They are not to be outspent or pushed around. It is, in their eyes, a privilege for a player to wear white, and the club’s divine right to snatch the world’s best. Negotiations take time, but Madrid always get the deal they want. It’s something of a misguided sentiment, but it’s the closest thing to actual ‘club DNA’ in real life.

It would be something of an insult, then, for Los Blancos to have to stretch their budget. However, in this case, they have no choice. The striker market is unpredictable, but the fact that Atalanta want a minimum of €70m (£60m/$78m) for Rasmus Hojland, who scored 13 league goals last year, is indicative of how expensive a potential addition might be.

Of course, Madrid can pay up. But that doesn’t mean they’ll want to. Perez likes to throw cash around sometimes, but he also spends smartly, almost always at the right price. The specifics of this deal, whoever it would be for, appear beyond his control.

The 2024 problem
The worst nightmare, though, could conceivably happen here. Madrid could overpay for a striker who is nowhere near as good as Mbappe. They will pretend to be happy with the player, who will undoubtedly have to play next season, if not longer, burdened by the narrative that he was second, or even third-choice.

But what if Mbappe makes a U-turn anyway? What if, the player who is known for changing approaches and exercising his power as a player, changes his approach and exercises his power as a player? Mbappe could commit to a multi-year deal in Saudi Araba, and decide after one season that the Pro League doesn’t suit him. That ‘I want out’ interview is basically already written, a cry to Perez, Madrid, and Madridistas to embrace him once again.

Then Madrid have a real problem. Mbappe would perhaps be available on a free, but command an immense signing bonus and frightening wages. Even Los Blancos wouldn’t be able to afford him. In such a scenario, they’d have to watch Mbappe go elsewhere once more, all while reassuring the world that they never wanted him anyway.

And it appears to be careening that way. PSG will hold out for as long as they can and take the big offer. Mbappe could well be playing in the Saudi Pro League next year. In 12 months, Madrid could be watching him enter the market again. And that time, should it come, even the most powerful club in football won’t have the finances to make it happen. Their predestined signing would have to go elsewhere once more.


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Messi’s famous Barcelona napkin auction opens in London



Lionel Mess

The auction for the napkin which famously launched Lionel Messi’s Barcelona career as a 13-year-old opened this week with a guide price of £300,000-£500,000 ($374,700-$624,500).

Bidding for the item stands at £220,000 and will be open with the British auction house Bonhams until May 17.

The sale was originally slated for for March but was postponed due to a dispute over the ownership of the napkin, which has been in the hands of Horacio Gaggioli, an Argentine agent, for the last two decades.

Josep Minguella, another advisor involved in the deal to bring Messi over from Argentina, claimed possession of the napkin following the news it would be auctioned earlier this year.

Gaggioli disputed this, while Bonhams told ESPN there were “no problems” regarding the sale of the napkin, which is listed on their website as “property of Horacio Gaggioli.”

The auction for the napkin has opened after a dispute over it original ownership. Bonhams
Minguella has not replied to ESPN’s request for comment. With Messi’s father, Jorge, beginning to doubt Barça’s commitment to his son in 2000, the club’s director of football at the time, Carles Rexach, hastily scrambled together an agreement on a napkin.

It was signed by Rexach, Minguella, who had helped bring Messi over from South America, and Gaggioli, who helped broker the deal, serving as a promise for a first contract.

Since then, it has remained under the ownership of Gaggioli in a secure vault in Andorra, the Principality to the north of Barcelona sandwiched between Spain and France.

Negotiations for it to be incorporated into Barça’s museum at the club’s Spotify Camp Nou stadium broke down in the past.

The napkin was originally signed on Dec. 14, 2000 at a tennis club in Barcelona after Rexach had received a frantic call from Jorge Messi threatening to take his son back to Argentina.

“That was when, thinking on my feet, I decided everything,” Rexach told ESPN in 2020 to mark the 20th anniversary of the signing.

“Why a napkin? Because it was the only thing I had available to hand. I saw the only way to relax Jorge was signing something, giving him some proof, so I asked for a napkin from the waiter.

“I wrote: ‘In Barcelona, on 14 December 2000 and in the presence of Messrs Minguella and Horacio, Carles Rexach, FC Barcelona’s sporting director, hereby agrees, under his responsibility and regardless of any dissenting opinions, to sign the player Lionel Messi, provided that we keep to the amounts agreed upon.’

“I told Jorge that my signature was there and that there were witnesses, that with my name I would take direct responsibility, there was nothing else to talk about and to be patient for a few days because Leo could already consider himself a Barca player.”

Messi, who now plays for MLS side Inter Miami, went on to become Barça’s greatest ever player, making more appearances (778) and scoring more goals (672) than anyone else who has played for the club.

During over 20 years in Barcelona, he won 10 LaLiga titles, seven Copas del Rey and four Champions League trophies while playing for the club before joining Paris Saint-Germain and later Inter Miami.

Individually, he has won the Ballon d’Or a record eight times and has also been named The Best FIFA Men’s Player on three occasions.

International success with Argentina had eluded him until recently, but he finally won the Copa América in 2021 and the World Cup in 2022 to go with the Olympic Gold Medal he won in 2008.



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F1 signs multi-year extension to ‘US$40m-a-year’ DHL deal



Formula One has agreed a multi-year expansion of its global partnership with logistics company DHL.


  • DHL will continue as the series’ global logistics partner
  • The extension is described as a ‘longer-term commitment’, suggesting a longer contract than the four-year extension signed in 2021.


This latest extension builds on a 20-year relationship between Formula One and DHL, with the most recent deal worth around US$40 million per season, according to sponsorship analytics platform Luscid.

Recently, DHL has worked with Formula One on reducing emissions produced by logistics, with a biofuel trial during the European leg of last season resulting in an 83 per cent reduction.


“As our longest-standing partner, DHL has become such a crucial part of the delivery of our events, so we’re delighted to continue that successful collaboration for many more years,” said Jonny Haworth, director of commercial partnerships for Formula One.

“Our partnership has seen the sport transform and grow, and DHL have been hugely supportive in our transition to become a more sustainable sport.

“This will continue to be key as we move towards 2030 and as sustainable logistics continue to develop, I look forward to seeing the positive innovations that come next.”

Coming next:

The 2024 Formula One season gets underway this week with the Bahrain Grand Prix from 29th February to 2nd March.


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CAF to make about $75m in estimated revenue for AFCON 2023



At the Stade Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan last Sunday, mixed emotions filled the air. Heartbreak for the Super Eagles of Nigeria and joy for the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire, who clinched the AFCON 2023 trophy with a 2-1 victory over Nigeria.

Ivory Coast’s remarkable journey to lifting the trophy concluded a thrilling AFCON, making it the best experience so far.


During the Africa Cup of Nations opening ceremony on January 13th, CAF President Patrice Motsepe expressed optimism that AFCON 2023 would be the best so far. The events and drama that unfolded in Abidjan undoubtedly support this claim.


Before the final of the competition, Dr Patrice Motsepe mentioned in a press conference that nearly 2 billion people had tuned in to watch AFCON 2023.


The notable rise in viewership was linked to broader broadcast rights, media coverage, commercial partnerships, and the influence of social media.

CAF had 17 commercial partners for the tournament, which included TotalEnergies as the title sponsor, official sponsors such as 1xBet, Visa, and Orange, along with regional sponsors like Ecobank, Unilever, and MTN.


Matches were shown in about 180 countries through deals with partner broadcasters like Sky, Canal+, beIN Sport, BBC, and MultiChoice, as well as 45 Free To Air broadcasters.


Media accreditation saw 6,000 journalists apply, which is double the number from the last AFCON in Cameroon in 2022.

How Many People Viewed AFCON 2021 and how it compares to AFCON 2023? 

The CAF activity report for 2021-2022 indicates that around 500 million viewers from 160 nations tuned in to watch AFCON 2021 in Cameroon, marking an increase of 40 nations compared to AFCON 2019 in Egypt.


Additionally, CAF recorded 1.4 billion streaming impressions on its digital platforms, and there were 351.4 million online video views associated with AFCON Cameroon 2021.


By sticking to the earlier estimate of 2 billion people before the final, it suggests that AFCON viewership saw an increase of over 300%, and this could be more when the official report from CAF is released.

Estimated Sponsorship Revenue for AFCON 2023 

According to GlobalData, a London-based market research firm, it is projected that CAF will generate approximately $75 million in sponsorship revenue from the current AFCON.


The tournament featured 17 commercial partners, including TotalEnergies as the title sponsor, along with 1xBet, Orange, and Unilever.


In the fiscal year 2021-2022, CAF’s overall revenue reached $103.6 million. The sponsorship funds derived from Competitions contributed significantly to this total, generating an impressive cumulative revenue of $79.8 million.


This marked a notable increase of $3.6 million compared to the previous year’s sponsorship funds.


The projected sponsorship revenue for the AFCON 2023 alone is estimated to be $75 million, underscoring the substantial and commendable contribution of CAF to this achievement.


In January, prior to the commencement of AFCON 2023, CAF disclosed a 40% increase in the prize money.


The champions, Ivory Coast, are set to receive USD 7,000,000. The Super Eagles of Nigeria will be awarded USD 4,000,000, while South Africa and DR Congo will each receive USD 2,500,000.


The other four quarter-finalists, Mali, Angola, Guinea, and Cape Verde, will individually get USD 1,300,000.


AFCON made a big impact on social media, from lively fan chats to live updates. But it wasn’t just for fun; some people also made money from it.


Last year, Twitter started an initiative where users could earn a share of the ad revenue from sponsored posts under their tweets.


Some folks partnered with brands, joined subscription programs, or got tips from their followers.


For example, a video of the final moments of the Côte d’Ivoire vs. Nigeria match, posted on the official CAF account, got over 15 million views, 1.5 million likes, and 300,000 retweets.


According to Statista, the average cost per thousand impressions for social media ads globally was $4.33 in the second quarter of 2023, making the estimated ad revenue around $65,000.


The 2023 Africa Cup of Nations was undoubtedly a success both on and off the field. The Confederation of African Football, CAF can take pride in organizing a splendid tournament.


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