News From Spain: Analysis: Can Real Madrid persuade Paris Saint-Germain into sensational swap deal?

Real Madrid and Kylian Mbappe can no longer quite be called a love affair, but it is a relationship of sorts. Far from a storybook romance at this point, it has many more of the ups and downs of reality.

Mbappe has been on the Real Madrid radar since he was in his early teens, when Los Blancos tried to extract him from AS Monaco. They would do so again when Mbappe became an adult, before he moved to Paris Saint-Germain. Now into his twenties, it was all set up for the French star to join Real Madrid last summer at the end of his PSG deal – until he turned them down at the last moment.

In the aftermath, there was all manner of hysteria in Madrid and in a sense, even from Real Madrid President Florentino Perez. The head honcho went on tabloid programme El Chiringuito to explain that ‘this was not the Mbappe I know, he’s changed’.

That of course has died down now and it was only a matter of months before speculation began again about whether Los Blancos would go back in for him, particularly after rumours exploded that Mbappe was unhappy in Paris.

Now however, the problem is that Real Madrid would struggle to persuade PSG to part with Mbappe for money. On top of that, in the knowledge that Mbappe does not want to play alone as a central striker, he clashes positionally with arguably their most valuable player currently – Vinicius Junior.

Todofichajes say that Real Madrid have the answer. According to them, Los Blancos would be willing to swap Vinicius for Mbappe, along with some cash. They value the Brazilian at €120m and his French counterpart at €180m, and there is a strong argument to say that they are the two best left-sided forwards in the world.

Regardless of whether they should, would Perez be able to persuade PSG into the deal? Various factors would be at play.

Seemingly PSG were keen to retain Mbappe until after the Qatar World Cup, a condition that he has fulfilled. There would certainly have to be a disposition to at least talk about a deal – as Nasser Al-Khelaifi has shown, PSG are unlikely to be strong-armed into an arrangement that does not suit them.

Increasingly, it seems that Neymar Junior, Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe will not last long-term as a trio, not least because of Messi’s age. Nevertheless, each will on an intrinsic level want the side to be built to their needs. Of the three, it makes the most sense for PSG to retain Mbappe, as he is the youngest, and some would argue the best.

Yet if Mbappe is genuinely unhappy just months after a new deal, there is a chance that PSG, for a change, may think about the long-term sustainability of retaining him. While money is no object for Qatar Sports Investment, Mbappe’s maintenance does come at an exorbitant cost.

In Vinicius, they would have arguably the next best thing to Mbappe. There is no doubt that the Brazilian is not at the same level, but having a hard-working, hungry Vinicius over a sulking Mbappe is one area of argument Real Madrid could use.

It seems certain that Mbappe will leave Paris at some point in the next two summer transfer windows, whereas PSG could build around Vinicius for the foreseeable future. With little certainty on exactly how long Messi will remain, having someone pursuing Ballon d’Ors in their mid-twenties would be a strategic move too. While Vinicius has his own ego, the chances of him coexisting with Neymar and Messi seem significantly higher too.

Any deal still appears highly unlikely and it would be one of the most remarkable transfers in football history if Real Madrid were to pull it off. Yet if Perez is as obsessed with bringing Mbappe to Madrid as has appeared in the past, then he will use all the tools he has at his disposal.