MADRID (AP) — Real Madrid is pursuing a blockbuster deal for forward Kylian Mbappé, although Paris Saint-Germain is seemingly holding out for a better offer.
PSG sporting director Leonardo on Wednesday said the French club has rejected an offer of about $188 million from Madrid but added that it is willing to negotiate.
Leonardo told French broadcaster RMC Sport and other media outlets that the initial Madrid offer is below what PSG expected. He said the club won't hold Mbappé back if his desire is to leave, but any deal will only be made on the club's terms.
“Kylian Mbappé wants to leave, that seems clear to me,” Leonardo said. “If Real Madrid makes an offer, that seems clear. I am giving a position which, I think, is clear for everyone. We can’t, in the last week of the transfer window, change our plans. If he wants to leave, we aren’t going to keep him, but it’s under our conditions.”
It was the first time PSG said Mbappé wants to leave. The club had been saying he was not for sale and that it wants to extend his contract, but the current deal ends this season and the club may end up getting nothing for him if it doesn’t accept an offer now. He said Mbappé promised to the club he would never leave for free.
Leonardo said PSG already verbally said “no” to the initial Madrid offer of “around” 160 million euros ($188 million), which was being widely reported in Spain and France. He said the offer was “very far from what Kylian represents at the moment.”
“It’s less than what we paid for him," Leonard said. “But it’s the manner of how Real Madrid are going about it that doesn’t please us.”
Madrid has not officially confirmed or denied it made an offer for the 22-year-old France star who joined PSG from Monaco for 180 million euros ($211 million) in 2017. It was supposedly Madrid's first offer for Mbappé, a long-time target for the Spanish powerhouse.
Leonard accused Madrid of “not being correct” toward PSG, “illegally” contacting the player's representatives and family members in the last few years.
“It seems like this is a strategy by Madrid to hear a ‘no’ from us but to show that it tried everything to sign him now, then wait and get him for free next year,” Leonardo said.
Madrid president Florentino Pérez has publicly spoken about the club’s interest in Mbappé in the past, and the player has never denied his desire to one day play with the team.
Mbappé, who was yet to speak publicly about the Madrid offer, appeared hesitant to reach a new deal with PSG recently, knowing that he would be free next year.
Rumors about a possible transfer increased after Lionel Messi’s move from Barcelona to PSG, with some at the Catalan club accusing Pérez of working behind the scenes to get Messi to France to open the way for Mbappé’s arrival at Madrid.
Pérez has denied any involvement in Messi's departure from Barcelona. Earlier this year he praised Mbappé and said Madrid fans should “calmly" wait for new developments about his possible transfer to Madrid.
The Spanish club has not spent much on new players since signing Eden Hazard from Chelsea in 2019 for 100 million euros (now $117 million), plus add-ons. Despite losses because of the coronavirus pandemic and the renovation of the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, Madrid's current financial condition would theoretically allow for Mbappé's signing.
If the transfer goes through, PSG would have to pay a percentage of the fee to Monaco as part of their deal in 2017.
AP Sports Writer Steve Douglas contributed to this report.
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