Ever since Kylian Mbappé notified PSG that he would not renew his contract, tongues have wagged. Where would he end up? What better match could there be than Arsenal, where he could emulate or even eclipse Thierry Henry as a Frenchman from Monaco with electrifying pace and and an unsurpassed nose for goal?
And yet… call me old-fashioned, but I gotta pump the brakes. For as sexy as such as signing sounds, it doesn’t make any sense. For one, there’s the financials. His transfer fee would almost certainly reach if not exceed £200m. Then, there’s his wages, which approach £1m/wk. If we want to bankrupt ourselves on this one transfer, rule ourselves out of any other transfers over the next three years, and risk FFP sanctions, signing Mbappé offers us the most-direct path to all of those dubious goals.
Beyond that, there are numerous other issues. Mbappé is not Henry 2.0. He’s a petulant, flat-track diva who sees himself as bigger than anyone else—bigger than Arteta, bigger than Saka or Jesus or Ødegaard or Martinelli, bigger than anyone in the squad, bigger than the club itself. He’s sulked when Neymar and Messi haven’t deferred to him. How would he react when lesser talents fail to place an inch-perfect pass to him?
Speaking of “lesser” talents, how would our current squad react to Mbappé’s presence? They might rise to the challenge, elevating their game to match his. Defenders might improve after training against one of the world’s best attackers. Attackers might learn a few tricks of the trade from training alongside the same. That seems optimistic. Mbappé hasn’t really shown that mentoring is in his skill-set. He’s not a leader. He comes across as one who expects others to carry water for him.
For as exciting as it might be to see us sign him, we’d be signing away our future but also our culture. “Victoria Concordia Crescit” isn’t just some fancy Latin verbiage. When we’ve been at our best, it’s been when our players have shared a wavelength, an understanding, a chemistry. Mbappé doesn’t seem to understand any of that, and that’s a shame, given his precocious and prodigious talent. He could’ve been a contender.
On its surface, signing Mbappé should feel like securing our future for the foreseeable future. Peeking beneath that surface feels like succumbing to something darker. We’ve seen how a player like Alexis turned into a sulker once he suspected that he was superior to anyone else in the squad, and his fee was a measly £32m.
Let’s hop off the hype-train here. Mbappé has the potential to be a generational talent on Henry’s level, but he’s not cut from the same cloth. For as much as I hate to say it, he seems to want the world handed to him on a silver platter. Would he immediately improve our squad? In the short term, yes. Maybe.
Arteta has been building a squad full of budding superstars who are willing to sublimate their own personal aggrandisement for the greater good. Mbappé wouldn’t simply scupper that culture; he’d throw it to the floor and tear it up like Kleenex at a snot convention.
For all of the reasons we’ve explored above, though, such a move just isn’t worth it. He’s a white elephant, a player who would cost much more than he’d deliver. Let him end up at Real Madrid, a club that can apparently spend as much as it wants on fees and wages without any consequence. For the money, I’d rather see us sign Rice, Caicedo, Havertz, and Osimhein, just to name a few that come to mind.
Long story short, Mbappé ain’t joining the Arsenal unless he’s wiling to agree to a seriously reduced transfer fee, weekly wage, and attitude.
We’re building something special here. Mbappé just isn’t the kind of player who can be part of that process.