The news that Kilian Mbappé, one of the best players during the 2018 World Cup, has signed a new contract with his current employer, PSG, France’s financial and footballing powerhouse, has shaken the football world. How would that affect the French league? Would it change anything?
tied until 2025
The new paper has a duration until 2025. It ended all speculation that he may swap the blue shirt of Paris with that of Real Madrid or even the red of Liverpool FC. Yet, he decided to stay to become the best paid player, even athlete for the next three years. His salary is reported to be 100000000 millions Euros – after tax. If this was not enough, he will receive a signing fee of 300000000 millions Euros as well.
It is not the figures – though they are staggering – that are ridiculous to the point of being sickening. It is the power with which Kilian Mbappé will be equipped. He will have a word in the appointment of the coach and the new sporting director. The latter position has become vacant after the former player Leonardo has resigned from his position at the end of the season 2021/22. Further, Mbappé will have a say in the signings and sale of players, in other words he runs the club. On one side, this bestows a lot of power on a young person with some years of playing at the top level but little knowledge of how to run a club, at least that is what we know about him. If he were to become a coach, the better yet having this power beggars belief and requires some questioning.
On the other side, this reflects horrendously on PSG, his club. Their position seemed to be weak in the contract negotiations with the representatives of Mbappé as otherwise a move to Real Madrid was discussed. His decision to stay can be explained by the money he will receive but also by the love he experiences in Paris, his hometown. However, the affection seems to be too weak an argument when put in contrast with the financial aspect. The money and the apparent weakness of PSG are more likely to be the reasons for these figures. The agents of Mbappé have gambled and got the maximum of what they aimed for. The club rest appeased as one of the best players in the world will continue to represent their colours come next season.
In short, this deal is insane, it will shift the power away from the clubs towards the players, leaving many clubs and their representatives with little leeway to broker contracts. Yet, many clubs will not have the financial means to hold on to their best players by upping the pecuniary ante but will have to let them go.
a farmer or feeder league?
Will this change the status of Ligue 1 as a feeder or farmer league? At first, the terms need to be defined here. A farmers league is derogatory term to describe the French league as semi-professional, i.e. the people are peasants during the day and footballers in the evening. Given the fine footballers this league has brought to the world stage, this is a slap in the face for any youth coach in France. Without France, there would not have been a Thierry Henry, a Patrick Vierra or a Robert Pries to name but a few of the greats who have played in the Premier League. France continues to produce talent, Mbappé being the latest, Tchouameni also needs to be mentioned. To describe Ligue 1 as a farmers league speaks of the obnoxious point of view from those benefiting from the French talents.
The other term, feeder league is a better fit. The French top division, their clubs and academies feed the bigger leagues, most notably the Premier League but also the others of those making up the top five leagues in Europe. However, the status of the league will not change just because PSG have the money to keep a player like Mbappé on their books. Just to underline the argument it is worth looking at France’s starting XI against Denmark on June 3, 2022. Of the 11 selected by Didier Deschamps only two play in France, Mbappé and Tchouameni. Of the subs, only Jonathan Clauss and William Salima ply their trade in France, while the other three Rabiot, Diaby and Nkunku are under contract in Italy and Germany, respectively.
For the wider football watching community this may be a boost as it means that the biggest French player will stay in his native country and not follow the path of many of his fellows: going abroad and earning their living there. It inflates the bubble even more but may not lead to a reversal of the trend.Good writing does not come by chance, so consider a little tip:
© featured image “Kylian Mbappé with the World Cup trophy 2018” via wikimedia under CC BY-SA 3.0
Leslie Crang has provided invaluable help for this article for which I am very grateful. You can follow Les on twitter