Champions League: For Real Madrid, can Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah pay for the removal of Kylian Mbappé?

Whatever the result at the Stade de France on Saturday night, Real Madrid will not return from Paris with the same enthusiasm as expected. Carlo Ancelotti may return to the Spanish capital, the Champions League trophy in one hand, chewing tobacco, but something is still missing.

Kylian Mbappé’s illness has plunged Madrid into a deep depression not limited to the Santiago Bernabeu. On the night’s TV show and viral sensation El Chiringuito de Jugones, orphaned fans laid the plague on Mbappe’s home. Nor is anger confined to the crazy edges of Spanish football culture. La Liga president Javier Tebas called it an ‘INSULT for football’ that Paris Saint-Germain signed Mbappe for a hefty salary. Even before announcing the deal, the Spanish league itself accused PSG of ” [endangering] European football at the same level as the European Super League “.

Spain’s anger shows no signs of losing even though the three-year deal that Mbappe has agreed to open the door wide enough for a future departure. Aurelien Tchouameni, one of the best young midfielders in the world, is a prize winner, but she barely fills the Mbappe-shaped hole in the heart of Madrid.

That’s the bigger problem Florentino Perez faces. Unlike their plan to sign the best young striker in the world and Mbappe is simply the best option available to them. Madrid want Kylian Mbappe and Kylian Mbappe is the only Kylian Mbappe they can get.

Understandably, clubs that have looked over their shoulder at the Spanish giants for years will have little sympathy for them. Even at a time when Madrid and Barcelona had no money to force the Premier League giants to sell, they still got their man. Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen will join La Liga as free agents after Chelsea failed to sign them. In what could be a new era of player liability, partially triggered by Mbappe’s willingness to expire his contract and Erling Haaland entered into his contract to ensure most of the money spent by Manchester City is returned to him, there will be other opportunities for Madrid to seek a replacement.

And perhaps the cruelest paradox of all is that Mbappe is the perfect fit for Madrid. It’s not a sign in the mold of Gareth Bale or James Rodriguez, where talent is unquestionable, but the fit is questionable. In a short time, he fits comfortably alongside Benzema and Vinicius Junior, and when the former reaches its climax, his countryman can easily take the central role or stay where he is, with another replacement.

Mbappe was made for Real Madrid, on and off the pitch. One of the biggest prizes in the game has proven to easily fit into the team as it is currently being developed. Now, somewhere in his spacious mansion in Madrid, Perez can sleep through the night until noon, wandering the halls in sweetpants trying to imagine life without the person who rejected him. He can scroll through the pages of fbref.com looking for anyone who can remind him of the one he missed. Christopher Nkunku, Arnaut Danjuma, Luis Muriel, a man called Karim Benzema. It’s all good and good. Some of them can help Madrid find happiness in the years to come. But they all have problems. Mbappe is not one of them.

They carefully built their squad to allow their dream target to fit, spending funds over the years to pay for a free move that was anything other than a move. Top young talents like Achraf Hakimi, Sergio Reguilon and Martin Odegaard were cashed in without exchange, all to grow Mbappe’s funds. Now that Mbappe is no longer in the picture, the task is to find not only someone who fits the team, but also someone known enough to make all those sacrifices worthwhile.

Real Madrid need a star, who is not a conciliatory prize and who fits the team as easily as the French striker would. In short, it looks like they need the player to play on their opponent’s right wing on Saturday. While Mohamed Salah isn’t the only name that fits Madrid’s list of demands, he’s one of the few on a very short list.

Salah should check all the boxes. Of course, Madrid was marked by the signing of Eden Hazard, another player who shone in the Premier League in his late 20s but came to Spain with the weight of years with an attacking charge. However, if Perez can last for 12 months, there could be nothing better than Salah being stuck alongside Benzema, who has the potential to lose to the No.10 position, and the game. wing of Vinicius. Since it peaked later, it makes sense to think that he would be able to perform at the highest level for longer. Jurgen Klopp has already predicted that he will maintain his form until he is 30. Off the pitch, he is one of the brightest stars and one of the biggest names in the sport, idolized by a country of 100 million people, with sponsors from to Pepsi to Adidas (long -term sponsor of the Madrid shirt).

Considering all this, it is noteworthy that Mohamed Salah has indicated that he could take a similar approach to Mbappe in the next 12 months. At the end of his press conference before the Champions League final, he said: “I’ll stay next season for sure. I’ll stay next season.” By the end of it he will lose his contract, a key target for Madrid after years of clashing at sea by both sides.

He may not have fond memories of the team that beat him in the Champions League finals four years ago, where Sergio Ramos dislocated his shoulder to add salt to injuries, but Salah didn’t hesitate. give interviews to Marca, the Spanish sports daily that can sometimes appear as the information arm for Perez’s Madrid. “Maybe Someday” is a familiar stunt, where you never know how much Salah would like to move to Spain or better terms at Anfield.

In any other instance, it’s easy to see how Salah will be the prize Madrid seeks. Whatever the outcome on Saturday, Madrid’s claim to their opponents ’best player from the Champions League finals a year after the competition is really the kind of hard move that El Chiringuito will often leave boasting unparalleled appeal of the greatest team in the world. There is simply no greater reward than Salah.

But this is not another case. And in this case, there remains a fly in the gears. Madrid tried to sign Mbappe. And while Salah does a lot of things, there’s one thing he doesn’t: Kylian Mbappe.

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