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Mbappé joins Real Madrid in 'The most expensive free transfer in history'

Kylian Mbappe is tossed into the air after the French Cup final soccer match between Lyon and PSG at the Pierre Mauroy stadium, northern France, Saturday, May 25, 2024.
Kylian Mbappe is tossed into the air after the French Cup final soccer match between Lyon and PSG at the Pierre Mauroy stadium, northern France, Saturday, May 25, 2024. Copyright Michel Euler/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Michel Euler/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Vincent Vitis
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It's finally the end of the soap opera! After months of waiting and years of rumours, Kylian Mbappé is now officially playing for Real Madrid.


To quote Mbappé himself, as he said on social media, the move is: "A dream come true."

The star footballer's contract with Los Merengues begins on 1 July and runs until 2029, meaning he can now let go of the tension and fully concentrate on his role as part of the French team in the UEFA Euro 2024.

While it comes as no surprise that he's moved to Real Madrid, the financial details of his new deal are only now leaking out.

Sky Sports has talked about the deal as "most expensive free transfer in history". That is because, theoretically, when a player's contract is expiring, the club that wants to buy him only has to offer a new contract but does not have to pay the other club.

However, in Mbappé's case, the transfer is still going to cost the Spanish capital's flagship club a huge amount of money.

Wages, bonuses and sponsorship deals

The 2024 Champions League winners will have to pay a signing bonus to the 25-year-old striker. Sky Sports puts the figure at €117 million, while the BBC puts it at €150 million. Kylian Mbappé, born in Bondy, near Paris, alone will receive the entire amount, although it should be smoothed out over the five years of the contract.

Added to this will be an annual salary of €15 million, according to estimates by the Spanish newspapers AS and Marca. That is a far cry from the €70 million he earned annually with PSG, and much less than Real Madrid's five other current stars, England's Jude Bellingham, Belgium's Thibaut Courtois, Croatian legend Luka Modrić, Austria's David Alaba and Brazil's Vinícius Júnior, according to reports in Swiss publication Blick.

To explain the discrepancy with the club's other stars, you have to add the million euro annual signing bonus, mentioned above, which takes his salary from €15 million to €35 or €45 million.

And then there are his image rights. According to the Spanish media, the 2018 world champions will retain 80% of the rights. The only other Real star to maintain the majority of his image rights was Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009 - Real players usually share their image rights equally with the club.

On top of all that, there are various bonuses negotiated into the contract, relating to his performances, trophies won, and those of his club. Last but not least, Real Madrid, Europe's most successful club, offers far greater visibility and marketing opportunities than in France. 

Kilian Mbappé and PSG: divorce complete ?

On Tuesday, 28 May, L'Équipe reported that Paris-Saint-Germain would owe Mbappé €80 million. This amount corresponds to his April salary plus a bonus.

Mbappé was left out of the professional squad last summer after announcing that he would leave the club at the end of his contract in 2024. After agreeing to negotiate with his club, the former No 7 agreed to forgo an €80 million bonus, in exchange for a return to the professional squad.

A few months later, the French player officially informed his president of his departure at the end of the season. Nasser al-Khelaïfi, the club's boss, finally decided to transfer the €80 million bonus to Mbappé's account. Interviewed by L'Équipe, various members of the capital club president's entourage explained that he wanted Real Madrid to pay the same sum to the club. But Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez refused. 

In response, Nasser al-Khelaïfi opted not to pay the Monaco-trained player's April salary and a bonus, which came to a total of €80 million. Mbappé blames Nasser al-Khelaifi for not keeping his word last summer. According to Mbappé, the president put pressure on his coach to give him less playing time. As a result, he feels wronged and is no longer willing to part with the €80 million he was promised.

While the story of Mbappé and Real Madrid is just beginning, it seems his story with Paris Saint-Germain is far from over.

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