Kylian Mbappe’s Conversation With Paul Pogba Will Only Provide More Fuel to the Free-Transfer Fire
At the risk of spouting a classic soccer cliche, international breaks almost guarantee a handful of transfer rumors. While there’s still plenty of time for additional stories to emerge, Kylian Mbappe seems to have taken an early lead as this window’s main topic of conversation.
Although rumors of the French star’s next big move have been swirling ever since the summer, things are soon to reach a fever pitch. Mbappe is out of a contract after this season and, thanks to a clip of his conversation with Paul Pogba making the rounds on social media, plenty of supporters will be trying to connect the dots and see what writing is on the wall.
Kylian Mbappe seemed to suggest that he was sick of playing for PSG
Since Mbappe’s contract is up in the summer, the common assumption is that he’ll be hit the open market and take the next step in his career. During recent conversation with Paul Pogba, the PSG forward may have thrown some further fuel onto that fire.
Shortly after the squad assembled, the French national team released a video that showed the players reuniting and exchanging pleasantries. When Pogba and Mbappe met, the United star asked how things were at PSG. The younger man responded, “I’m fed up” (as translated by The Independent, h/t Yahoo Sports).
Even though those comments were conspicuously omitted from the clip’s English subtitles, it doesn’t take a super sleuth to understand why Mbappe is sick of his current situation.
PSG are perpetually trapped in limbo, as their star-studded roster is (usually) too good for domestic competition but unable to make it over the hump in the Champions League. After letting last year’s Ligue 1 title slip through their fingers, the club refused to sell their marquee player during the summer. Instead, they brought in Lionel Messi in an attempt to brute force their way to European glory. That didn’t work, and with this year’s Champions League campaign ending in disaster, it seems like there’s little reason for Mbappe to remain in his home country. At this point, he seems destined to hit free agency and potentially become Real Madrid’s newest Galactico.
While just about every soccer fan can read the writing on the wall, hearing Mbappe himself admit his frustrations will only amplify the speculation about his future. Now, it’s just a matter of waiting until the summer and seeing if he actually heads to Spain.
Paul Pogba also voiced some frustration about his stagnating club career
Mbappe wasn’t the only one to voice his frustrations, though. Now, let’s turn to the other man in the conversation.
When Paul Pogba returned to England in 2016, the midfielder was supposed to be the prodigal son who lifted Manchester United back to glory. It goes without saying that things haven’t gone according to plan.
Even if you set aside the lack of silverware — Pogba has only won the EFL Cup and a Europa League title during his second stint wearing red — the Frenchman has almost become emblematic of the club’s current struggles. He arrived as a luxury signing and a statement of intent but has spent six disappointing seasons working under three managers. He’s also been used slightly differently under each of them, suggesting the lack of a larger organizational vision.
To some extent, Pogba’s incredible skill set has become his biggest problem. Since he’s capable of doing just about everything, he’s slotted into a variety of roles, taking the pitch as an attacking midfielder, a deeper-lying playmaker, and something akin to a left-sided forward, although that mostly gave him license to drift inward and occupy an attacking half-space.
That undefined role, combined with United’s on-field issues, seem to have taken their toll on Pogba.
“You have to be honest, the last five seasons have not satisfied me – really not at all. This year it is dead, we won’t win anything. Whether it is with Manchester United or at another club, I want to win trophies,” he told France’s Le Figaro, as translated by The Mirror. “It’s simple with France, I play, and I play in my position – I know my role, and I feel the confidence of the coach and the players … It’s normal to feel a difference at Manchester United because it’s hard to be consistent when you often have a change to your position, or the team system, or your partners.”
He even doubled-down on his statement about needing a defined role at club level.
“I get along very well with [French national team manager Didier Deschamps], he gave me a role that I know, but at Manchester United, do I really have a role,” Pogba continued. “I ask the question but I don’t have an answer.”
Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe seem destined for free transfers, and both could end up at Real Madrid
If you’re the type that likes to parse through every element of a social media clip looking for clues, you could also assign some significance to the fact that Mbappe’s comments came in conversation with Paul Pogba. Whether that’s a coincidence or not, there is a chance the two stars could team up at Real Madrid.
For Mbappe, the path to joining Los Blancos seem pretty clear. Last summer, he was linked to the Spanish club, but PSG refused to budge. With the striker hitting the open market, though, there’s not much that the French giants can do beyond backing up the Brink’s truck. If Mbappe is ‘fed up’ with life in Paris, it’s unlikely that any amount of money can change that; the combination of high salary and a legitimate chance at the Champions League would reduce his likely destinations to either Madrid or Manchester City, and Pep Guardiola seems to prefer Erling Haaland.
As for Pogba, the links are a bit less concrete. While he previous told the world that his “dream” was to play for Real Madrid (h/t The Guardian), that doesn’t mean there’s room for him on the roster. While the Spanish club has never met a star player they don’t like, it also needs to revitalize an aging midfield. Pogba isn’t as old as Luka Modric or even Toni Kross, but, at age 29, you probably don’t want to be building your engine room around the Frenchman. With that being said, though, you could make a case that he could be somewhat of a bridge player, allowing the elder statesmen to transition out and giving time for a younger acquisition, like Ryan Gravenberch, time to grow into a role.
At this point in the calendar year, though, all we can do is speculate. If you’re not interested in the drama, feel free to keep your blinders on. If you enjoy silly season, though, it’s hard to beat Kylian Mbappe and Paul Pogba both talking about their frustration during the same international break.