Kylian Mbappe looks towards Neymar with a frustrated glare.
Neymar flashes back an equally tempestuous look. But this time it isn’t the signing of a free transfer from a recently-relegated Stoke that’s got PSG’s star duos’ backs up.
Nope. Now it’s the realisation that both have their careers parked in the most expensive cul-de-sac in world football.
Playing for PSG is a strange existence when you’re two of the game’s biggest talents. For all the trophies and money, something is missing.
In two seasons of being team-mates at the Parc de Princes, Neymar and Mbappe have won two Ligue 1 titles as well as a Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue apiece.
Mbappe followed Neymar in being named Ligue 1’s Player of the Year, while only Lionel Messi topped the Frenchman’s tally of 33 league goals last season.
In short, the pair are comfortably the two best players in France. For that, they are paid handsomely.
Neymar is reportedly taking home roughly €1.16 per second, while Mbappe is forced to slum it on €0.65 every second.
But once the thrill of putting nine goals past Guingamp and five goals past Lyon wears off, those weekly wages of €707,692 and €398,000 respectively become problematic.
For PSG’s two main assets, crossing the Arc de Triomphe roundabout with closed eyes would be an easier task than leaving the club this summer, despite persistent rumours about both playing elsewhere.
Real Madrid’s summer outlay means they wouldn’t be able to comply with Financial Fair Play if they were to sign Neymar, while burnt bridges make a Barcelona return complicated.
Man City could theoretically afford the wages and transfer fee, but with Bernardo Silva, Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and Riyad Mahrez out wide there’s no need for the Brazilian.
That leaves Man United.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has several gaping holes in his squad that need filling before he considers a luxury signing like Neymar. There’s also the glaring lack of Champions League football at Old Trafford.
Aside from turning to the Chinese Super League, Neymar’s options look limited.
As for Mbappe, it would take a gargantuan offer to force PSG to sell not only the best young player in world football but one of the most marketable faces in the game.
PSG’s collaboration with Jordan was evidence of the club’s ambition to step outside of football. It was no surprise to see Mbappe modelling the first pieces from the latest collection during his tour of the US.
That’s the deal you make with the devil when joining PSG. There’s no longevity to the project, given the lack of competition domestically.
A football career is short. Asking Neymar and Mbappe to hang around for the next five years while PSG build a squad capable of lifting the Champions League is ambitious.
The damage would be irrevocable were PSG to sell Neymar and Mbappe. It would essentially be an admission of guilt that playing for the club is an unfulfilling career move.
PSG’s financial firepower will always keep them ahead of the rest in France. Indeed, Matthijs de Ligt looks set to swap Amsterdam for Paris amidst international clamour.
But without soul and the ability to convince players of a worthy long-term project, PSG will only ever be a lavish stopover.
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