Paris Saint-Germain isn't going to let go of superstar Kylian Mbappe this summer. And it may cost it an astonishing amount of money.
Facing the prospect of losing Mbappe on a free transfer next year, the Parisian giants reportedly didn't respond to Real Madrid's latest bid for the player of €200 million ($236.1 million), according to ESPN's Alex Kirkland and Rodrigo Faez.
So why would PSG risk letting Mbappe sign with Real Madrid on a pre-contract agreement in January—the club he grew up supporting—without getting anything in return?
One reason is that PSG is attempting to win its first Champions League title in club history this year, and keeping Mbappe—alongside Lionel Messi, Neymar and a ridiculously stacked roster behind them—makes that pursuit more feasible.
Even if it pulls off that feat, however, it will have a $236 million price tag.
Another reason is that the Qatar Sports Investments ownership group may simply not care that much about the money. When you've already pumped over a billion dollars into the club since 2011, what's another quarter billion dollars for the sake of potential European glory?
Of course, PSG may feel that keeping Mbappe in Paris gives them one last chance to convince him to stay. Perhaps he will enjoy his football with Messi. Perhaps leaving his home—he grew up in the Parisian suburb of Bondy—will be harder than expected with more time for reflection.
But that feels unlikely. Reports have suggested Mbappe has already turned down a PSG contract offer of €45 million ($53.1 million) per year, while Kaveh Solhekol of Sky Sports reported that Mbappe feels he is being kept "against his will" and that he "believes PSG promised him they would let him go if they received what they paid for him (€180m/£154m) and are now going back on their word."
Keeping him in the face of a $236.1 million offer, when all reports indicate he would like to join Real Madrid, is a tough impasse to cross. He may not soon forget what he reportedly feels is a betrayal. And the clock is ticking to soothe over those feelings—he can sign a pre-contract agreement with Real in January to join on a free transfer next summer.
It's shocking to consider that arguably the most talented young footballer in the world might leave on a free. PSG has taken the ultimate gamble in its quest for the ultimate prize. The potential for the gambit to fail spectacularly is unprecedentedly high.