When Barcelona passed up the chance to sign Kylian Mbappé

2017 was a sliding doors moment for Kylian Mbappé, Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona. The France captain made the move to PSG, initially on loan from AS Monaco, before making the move permanent the following summer. However, things could have gone very differently. 

Mbappé has become PSG’s top scorer of all time. He has allowed the club to dominate domestically in recent years, with only Lille OSC able to steal the Ligue 1 title out of PSG’s clutches in that time. Having secured five Ligue 1 titles with Les Parisiens, as well as three Coupe de France titles, Mbappé looks set to move on this summer. 

Whilst it is not yet official, Mbappé is expected to join Real Madrid having announced to PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi that he would be leaving the club upon the expiry of his contract at the end of the season. However, before he departs the Parc des Princes, he has the objective of winning the UEFA Champions League with his hometown club. 

The first club in PSG’s way is Barcelona. PSG face the Catalan club at the Parc des Princes in their Champions League quarter-final on Wednesday, however, Mbappé could easily have lined up in the red and blue of Barcelona, rather than that of PSG. 

Barcelona opt for Dembélé over Mbappé

As revealed by Javier Bordas, a former member of Barcelona’s board, Barcelona passed up the chance to sign Mbappé back in 2017. “When we were preparing to sign [Ousmane] Dembélé (in 2017), I was contacted and told that Kylian Mbappé was within reach,” he told Mundo Deportivo back in 2020.

He added, “I phoned his father and he told me that he wouldn’t go to Real Madrid because Cristiano [Ronaldo], [Karim] Benzema and [Gareth] Bale were there, but that he could go to Barça because Neymar was no longer there. It could have happened, but Robert [Fernandez, the sporting director], preferred Dembélé.”

Dembélé’s spell at the Nou Camp was hindered by recurrent injuries. The former Borussia Dortmund winger then joined PSG in the summer after Les Parisiens triggered his relatively cheap release clause. It is a case of what could have been for Barcelona. It is a decision that could come back to haunt them on Wednesday night and perhaps on a more regular basis if and when Mbappé joins fierce rivals Real Madrid in the summer. 

GFFN | Luke Entwistle

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