Messi, Neymar and Mbappe: Can PSG afford ‘MNM’ attack?August 6, 2021
With the news that Lionel Messi will depart Barcelona having been made official, the tantalising prospect of seeing the Argentine line up alongside Neymar and Kylian Mbappe at Paris Saint-Germain has been mooted.
It would be a front three that would arguably surpass the famous ‘MSN’ trio at Barcelona, which saw Messi and Neymar combine with Luis Suarez to win the Champions League, and would undoubtedly be the most highly-paid in footballing history.
But is it a possibility?
One piece of the puzzle is secure at Parc des Princes, and that’s Neymar. Although the Brazilian has oft been linked with a move back to Barcelona following his world-record €222 million (£188m/$262m) switch in 2017, he is happier than ever in Paris.
This was underlined by him signing a new four-year contract in May, which binds him to the Parisian side until 2025.
While pictures of him looking overweight on holiday in Ibiza have gone viral this week, he remains an important commercial draw for PSG, as well as one of their on-field aces. Furthermore, he has the rest of August to regain his fitness before being thrown into the competitive field.
Like his team-mates that reached the Copa America and Euro 2020 finals, he is not forecast to see any action until September, having only returned to training on Friday.
Kylian Mbappe is the key to the puzzle in terms of PSG’s thinking. The 22-year-old is out of contract in June 2022 and there has been little movement to suggest that he will sign a new deal.
Ostensibly, the World Cup winner is concerned about PSG’s competitiveness on European terms. The Parc des Princes side have responded by arming themselves with arguably the greatest arsenal of new signings that any club on the continent has seen this summer.
PSG have collected an armful of top-class signings since the transfer window reopened, including Achraf Hakimi from Inter, as well as a small army of well-decorated free agents: Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Georginio Wijnaldum.
And yet still the question lingers. Will Mbappe remain with PSG, his hometown club, which is blessed with seemingly endless financial resources, or will be move to Real Madrid, a dream that he has held since he was a youngster with his walls plastered in posters of Cristiano Ronaldo at his peak?
The Parisians have made keeping him their priority, given that he can offer longevity that the 34-year-old Messi cannot. They do not, however, believe that there is scope for both to play in the same team due to the finances involved.
Messi has been a target for PSG since QSI took over the club in 2011 and sought to attract the world’s best players to Parc des Princes. Although he is now in the twilight stages of his career, the six-time Ballon d’Or winner remains attractive to the club. But only to a certain extent.
PSG believe that it would cost around €80m (£68m/$94m) per year to service Messi’s wages, which would keep him ahead of Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar as the biggest-earning footballer on the planet.
The French side have committed to reducing their budget this year after forecasting losses between €250-300m. In order to service this debt, they wish to raise around €180m (£152m/$212m) on player sales.
However, in a stagnant transfer market, that has proven to be virtually impossible. It is an issue that echoes the problems that Barcelona had in terms of raising the funds to retain Messi.
Similarly, Messi would likely be open to a move. After all, he has numerous good friends in the PSG dressing room.
Earlier this week, for example, he was pictured on Angel Di Maria’s Instagram page alongside the former Real Madrid player, Leandro Paredes, Neymar and Marco Verratti with the caption: “Amigos”.
Of course, if Real Madrid somehow found the capacity to sign Mbappe this summer, that would create a big hole in the wage bill and would also generate a large transfer fee that could be pushed towards Messi’s wages over a two- or three-year period.
There can be little doubt that PSG are keeping abreast of Messi’s situation, but the prospect of him turning out alongside Neymar and Mbappe appears slim. Financially, it is a prospect that even QSI cannot shoulder.
But if they cannot, who can? Barcelona may have officially confirmed that Messi is leaving Camp Nout but his future remains clouded in uncertainty.