Transfer Grades: PSG Loots Monaco with Kylian Mbappe Loan, Adds to Stable of Riches
One of the world's brightest young talents is on the move–but he won't be moving all that far. Paris Saint-Germain is the new home for striker Kylian Mbappé, after the club completed a deal with AS Monaco for the player. The deal calls for Mbappé to be transferred immediately on a one-year loan, with an option for PSG to buy at the end of the season for a reported €180 million (approximately $214 million). That eventual transfer fee would make Mbappé the second most expensive player of all time, behind his PSG teammate Neymar. Here's how the deal grade for all parties involved:
For PSG: B
Let's get the obvious out of the way: This move significantly weakens Monaco, which was the only team that figured to even give PSG a run for the Ligue 1 title. With Mbappé not just out of the picture but on its team, PSG can safely assume that another romp to a domestic title is all but assured.
However, and it seems odd to say this about any transfer involving a player as talented and widely-coveted as Mbappé, I find this move to be a bit of a head-scratcher.
For one thing, PSG does not have a huge on-field need for Mbappé, unless it is planning to transfer (or bench) Edinson Cavani or Angel Di Maria or move from a 4–3–3 to a totally crazy 4–2–4 formation. PSG could bring Mbappé off the bench, but there are so many other players the club could have bought, at far less financial risk, than Mbappe to provide depth behind Cavani, or on the wing behind Di Maria (though Mbappé isn't a winger). Then again, after splashing over €400 million on players in the last two transfer windows, maybe financial risk isn't something that much concerns PSG's Qatari owners, and that, too, could be part of a problem. UEFA's Financial Fair Play laws were put into place, at least in theory, to stop wild spending like what PSG has done recently. What if the deal for Mbappé is the one that finally enacts the penalties FFP supposedly provides? Would it really all be worth it, just so PSG could add another Ferrari to its stable of Ferraris?
For AS Monaco: F
It makes sense for Monaco to sell Mbappé. The player is one of the world's brightest stars, but his value at this point is based almost entirely on promise, not production. With that and the inflated post-Neymar market, it's likely Monaco might never get a higher fee for Mbappé than it agreed upon this summer. However, it makes almost no sense to sell Mbappé to PSG, a domestic rival that was going to be hard enough to beat out for the league title even with an unweakened quad. The financial windfall is significant, but it's also not 100% guaranteed. Surely, there have been bids from other clubs after Mbappé's star-making Champions League performances, which included six goals in the knockout stage against the likes of Manchester City, Dortmund and Juventus. Why wait until the last minute, then sell to the most harmful destination possible?
For Kylian Mbappé: B
With all the hype surrounding Mbappé, it can be easy to forget that he's still only 18 years old. He still has a ton of growing to do, and they red-hot way he ended last season may not be the way he plays the rest of his career. With that in mind, it's strange and potentially harmful to his development to move from a Monaco team where he was a first-choice starter to a PSG squad where he'll have to battle for minutes with Cavani and, potentially, Neymar and Angel Di Maria. As far as superteam moves go, though, PSG might also be about right for Mbappé. For one thing, he'll be closer to home, having grown up in Bondy, on the outskirts of Paris. And and for another, the lack of expectation about his arrival may end up being a positive. Unlike Neymar, Mbappé doesn't arrive with the pressure to carry the team on his shoulders. Simply continuing to develop will be enough to make the move worth it for him.