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Kylian Mbappe has seemed set to be swapping Paris Saint-Germain for Real Madrid for well over a year.
But just as it appeared that the Frenchman was about to make the Spanish capital home, a deal for him to remain was clinched.
It’s been reported that Mbappe called Real Madrid president Florentino Perez to inform him of his decision on Saturday afternoon (05/21/22).
As the 23-year-old was understood to have agreed personal terms with the Spaniards it was probably the least he could do.
With two apparently identical deals on the table for the youngster, you have to wonder what it was that convinced him to stay.
Perhaps, being a Parisian, the opportunity to remain in his homeland was the draw, but it seems inconceivable there weren’t other promises beyond the financials.
Ahead of an agreement being reached remarkable reports emerged that claimed PSG was making an offer for the player to become a part-owner of the club.
It was suggested that Mbappe would have the power to select who the manager was and choose the players lining up alongside him.
These claims are unverified and may well be exaggerated. But, regardless of their veracity, the power the young Frenchman will have at Paris Saint-Germain going forward is unquestionable.
The reported three-year deal, which he is believed to be signing, will hardly dispel the notion that he might walk away from the club in the future.
Only one year has to pass before he enters the territory of ‘running down his contract,’ Real Madrid will certainly not be deterred from trying again for the Frenchman before his 26th birthday arrives.
That means Mbappe will continue to have significant leverage over his employer and, whether written or not, influence on the overall strategy.
We’ll only get a sense of how great this is when a situation emerges with a manager or fellow player. Will PSG back Mbappe or make decisions for the greater good?
Having a star with this level of power is not exactly unheard of, but it rarely happens this early in a career, and, is often not the best route to success.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi
From Newcastle United sacking Ruud Guilt, after he dropped star striker Alan Shearer, to John Terry allegedly speaking to the owner Roman Abramovich over Jose Mourinho not playing the Chelsea captain, player power is far from a new phenomenon.
More and more often the biggest names at clubs get guarantees from owners or are asked about potential new signings.
But only really two players have ascended to the level of influence where they arguably have as much power as their manager; Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
He may not have always been listened to, but at every club he’s played for Ronaldo has not been afraid to make it clear to owners who they should sign and what manager they should have.
Whether it making sure Gareth Bale’s transfer fee was less than Ronaldo’s or not choosing to pursue the signing of Neymar, there were also times his influence was obvious.
A revealing indication of the power CR7 held came when he explained his reasons for leaving Real Madrid.
“I felt it inside the club, especially from the president, that they no longer considered me the same way that they did in the start,” he said “In the first four or five years there I had the feeling of being ‘Cristiano Ronaldo’. Less afterward. The president looked at me through eyes that didn’t want to say the same thing, as if I was no longer indispensable to them.”
Messi’s power at Barcelona was arguably even greater.
In 2020, the Argentinian took on sporting director Eric Abidal and then President Josep Bartomeu both of whom ended up departing.
The exit of Bartomeu was the most spectacular, the Catalan left months before he was supposed to in a manner that broke with the traditional methods of the club because he mistakenly tried to call Messi’s bluff over a summer transfer.
In the end, the overhauls were not enough to prevent the financial problems the club had forced Messi to leave.
But the changes at the club that occurred in his final season emphasized just how much power he held.
It should be pointed out that in both cases the oversized influence the two had wasn’t necessarily beneficial.
Although Real Madrid picked up multiple Champions League’s during his time at the club, Ronaldo’s power struggles unnecessarily disrupted many seasons and surely they would have won even more without them.
Messi’s battle with the club’s hierarchy was also a nasty off-field distraction during an already turbulent season for Barcelona.
Time will tell if Mbappe really does have the power that those two greats had.
If he has anything approaching their influence it will be interesting to see how that affects Paris Saint-Germain’s dressing room’s other seizable egos.
It will also be worth watching how it impacts the demands of other elite players at other teams when they are negotiating new deals.