Liverpool and Real Madrid have been handed a boost in the Kylian Mbappe race with reports emerging that Paris Saint-Germain are lining up Rafael Leao as a replacement for their all-time top goalscorer.
Mbappe is out of contract at the end of the season having neglected to extend it last summer, a decision which saw the 25-year-old temporarily frozen out of the first-team picture in the French capital.
PSG made much fanfare of Mbappe’s previous extension, announced in May 2022, when the player was pictured on the Parc des Princes pitch holding a shirt aloft with MBAPPE 2025 emblazoned on it. The contract was worth a reported £1 million per week.
However, it later transpired that the deal agreed was in reality until 2024, and not 2025, with the World Cup winner alone holding the right to extend the deal for a further year. The club expected Mbappe to exercise that option in order to secure a fee for him in the summer of 2024.
He has not yet done so and looks certain to depart at the end of the season following a goal-laden seven-year stay with PSG.
When it transpired that he wouldn’t extend, club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi agreed to sell him to Saudi Arabia’s Al-Hilal for a world record £259 million fee. Mbappe turned the move down.
Real Madrid have been widely seen as the most likely destination for Mbappe’s next club, with the French captain reportedly keen on a move to LaLiga long term, but it’s been reported that Liverpool bosses have been monitoring the situation.
And now it would appear plans are afoot in Paris to replace Mbappe at the end of the season in a significant boost for Mbappe suitors.
Rafael Leao, the Portugal winger, has a release clause of £150 million in his AC Milan contract. While the 24-year-old has been off the boil this season, he is still one of the most electrifying talents in European football.
Telefoot journalist Saber Desfarges reports that PSG are looking towards the summer transfer window with Leao firmly in their sights.
PSG’s Football Advisor Luis Campos is a known admirer of his compatriot Leao, having signed him for Lille back in 2018.
Leao, according to the report, has been made aware of PSG’s interest and is keen on a move. Accordingly, the club are positioning themselves concretely to sign the attacker in summer. Intriguingly, Telefoot also adds that Newcastle are interested in Leao too.
Transfer expert Fabrizio Romano wrote in his Caught Offside column: “I’m aware there have been some links with Rafael Leao and PSG.
“Luis Campos is the director who signed Leao at Lille, one of his incredible signings, so appreciating him is normal, but at PSG summer plans will be made in the next months.
“It’s still early to predict what they will do, it depends on how this season will go and also on the Kylian Mbappe situation.”
Any deal for Leao is closely related therefore to the departure of Mbappe. While it would be a monumental transfer to get over the line, Liverpool and of course Madrid, should take encouragement from the fact that PSG would appear to be finally attempting to replace their wantaway superstar.