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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Mbappe Real Madrid, Salah future, and more


This article was originally published on Fabrizio Romano’s Daily Briefing, a subscription service. If you would like to receive Fabrizio Romano’s exclusive articles via email ahead of publication on caughtoffside.com, please sign-up for the service here: thedailybriefing.io

Real Madrid are working hard on the Kylian Mbappe deal – they are advancing with confidence, even if nothing has been signed yet. Obviously I’ve had a lot of questions about this deal as several outlets have made strong claims on the Mbappe situation, so I wanted to clarify with my understanding of where it stands with Mbappe and Real Madrid.

As one of the biggest names in world football, we hear lots of stories about Mbappe in almost every transfer window, with sources saying he’s going here or he’s going there, so it’s not the first time we’ve had reports like this.

I respect all the information that’s out there but I’m just here to say what I’m hearing and the crucial point that an important formal step will be Mbappe’s formal communication to PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi. It’s not just a formal step, it’s a crucial step because that’s what they decided in the summer after what had been a very tense situation at the club when he was not travelling with the squad, missing pre-season with the team.

The only way out of this was to make a pact, so Mbappe made a pact with PSG and said he was prepared to lose out on an €80m loyalty bonus. So if he joins Real Madrid, PSG will not pay the €80m loyalty bonus, but part of this gentleman’s agreement as well is that Mbappe has to inform Al-Khelaifi before anyone else of his decision. This is a key part of keeping a good relationship in the next steps of the story.

At the time of writing, this communication has still not arrived – there is no formal communication to PSG or to Al-Khelaifi, and also nothing has been signed. From my personal experience, from what has happened over the years when we’ve heard many times that Mbappe has signed for Real Madrid and then the situation changed, it is important to respect you and to give the clearest information I can. For me, the best way to do this is to communicate when it’s really a done deal, and that will be when Mbappe informs PSG and Al-Khelaifi, so I will keep you posted on that step.

Could it happen soon? Yes. The feeling from sources at PSG, Real Madrid and Mbappe, the decision could come soon. Not in June or July, the feeling is that will be soon. Real Madrid are very confident this time after the exchanges with Mbappe, and this time the feeling is different, it is positive, with people close to Florentino Perez feeling the player is ready to take this step and move to the Bernabeu.

Another crucial detail to be aware of – in case Mbappe accepts this proposal from Real Madrid, the salary he’d be taking would be very different from what he currently earns at PSG. I can’t say precisely how much right now, but if he completes the move, it would be a lower salary – this is important, because Real Madrid have always wanted Mbappe, but on their conditions. Still, the Spanish giants feel their exchange has been very positive.

It’s true that every day in the dressing room at Real Madrid they speak about Mbappe, and the feeling inside the club this time is that it’s really, really close. Soon it will be time for formal communications, to sign contracts, and then for Mbappe to announce his decision, and it could be soon. I don’t know yet what kind of position Mbappe would play for the team, whether he’d be central or if he would compete with Vinicius on the left, but in many ways I think that’s the least worrying issue when you’re talking about an elite talent like Mbappe.

PSG are still waiting, but they are also preparing a plan to keep Mbappe, they still hope to keep him. They also have a plan in place, after internal discussions, on how to go forward without Mbappe. The president, the board, and the manager have a backup plan as they know it is concrete that Mbappe could leave.

The plan involves three players – they want to recruit important players in midfield and centre-back, and then obviously a player up front to replace Mbappe. This is probably also a good indication for Real Madrid.

Manchester City have agreed a deal for one of the best young talents in Europe this season – Brazilian winger Savio. This is an example of some of the great work done by the City Football Group, with Savio signed for Troyes and then loaned out to Girona, and now he’ll be the first signing for Man City next season.

The deal is done, of course it’s not a traditional agreement because all the clubs are in the same group. City also had the opportunity to sell Savio for big money, around €35-40m, because there were proposals from clubs in England and Germany, though I can’t mention specific names yet. There were important bids on the table, but now there is an agreement for Savio to join Man City next season, he’s already accepted the move.

City have an agreement in principle, but first Savio will be 100% focused on completing the season for Girona. We’ll then see what happens in the summer and what City want to do with the player, but for now everything is agreed, with City turning down important proposals for this top talent. Now we’ll see how ready Savio is to play under Pep Guardiola and to play in the Premier League, it’s going to be an interesting summer.

The pressure is growing around Mauricio Pochettino at Chelsea – this is the reality. Of course we know at Chelsea that there is not one person making the decisions, but the owners, the directors, and so it can take some time before they make a final decision.

While the pressure is growing on Pochettino, the feeling remains that the preference is to remain with Pochettino and then to assess the situation at the end of the season. The situation has not changed in terms of their decision, they are still with their manager and not planning an immediate change of coach.

But, for sure, the pressure is growing and internal discussions are ongoing. The results are not good at all and that is why the pressure is growing, but for now the plan is to continue and to do the best until the end of the season before assessing the situation in the summer.

Chelsea are not happy and know they cannot continue like this, and of course Pochettino knows this as well. It’s going to be important to see a reaction in the upcoming games, so let’s see what happens, but for now they keep trusting Pochettino and waiting until the end of the season.

Other big stories we keep hearing involve Mohamed Salah and his future at Liverpool, with some outlets once again linking him strongly with Saudi Pro League club Al Ittihad.

However, there is no update yet on Salah, it’s still too early. It’s too early also because Liverpool’s next project in terms of director and manager is not clear yet. We’ll have to see what plans they have there and then other deals will become clearer.

For sure interest in Salah from Saudi remains, but again, nothing is in concrete stages now and nothing is happening on this deal in February.

We also need to wait for Manchester United to decide on their new director before there will be more certainty on transfer targets, despite new rumours about some big names.

Joao Neves of Benfica is always linked because he’s being scouted but nothing concrete is taking place now. He’s a top talent and so links are not surprising, but there’s nothing else going on because we need to see what will be the United strategy under their new director.

The same is true for Joshua Zirkzee – it’s just normal scouting activity, but too early to know what United will decide to do here. Also, AC Milan have a concrete interest in Zirkzee for sure but the strategy for the summer will be made in the next months, not now.

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