First off, Arsenal are not signing Kylian Mbappé. He’s reached a stratosphere that we probably can’t touch. That said, Arsenal should definitely make a run at purchasing the precocious phenom.
My colleague (and The Short Fuse’s resident Debbie Downer) Bozz thinks that these purported figures for Mbappé are absurd and too high. 87m. 95m. 118m?!?!? That’s a lot of money, folks. Would it be worth it for Arsenal to spend that? Yes, yes, one thousand times yes.
I understand the skepticism. Few outside of France knew Mbappé’s name at the beginning of this calendar year. He’s only 18. He plays in a second tier league. But damn, he’s really good. Really, really good.
Monaco may be a super club in France, but they were underdogs against Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund, and Juventus. Mbappé scored against each of those sides in Monaco’s Champions League run. More impressively, even when he wasn’t scoring, he was wreaking havoc on opposition defenses with his pace and movement. That’s always been a hallmark of Arsene Wenger center forwards, they need to contribute in all facets of the game. Mbappé offers just that.
He also provides a much needed PR boost, not only to the fans, but to Arsenal’s star players. You know, the two we’re trying to re-sign. Going and getting the top young talent who fits perfectly with your other two attacking stars, and beating out every top club in Europe to do so, is an unmistakable sign of ambition.
But we all know the kid is a star talent and has as good a shot as anybody out there to become a superstar. Even my man Bozz doesn’t dispute that. What he does dispute is whether an Mbappé buy is good stewardship of Arsenal’s finite transfer budget. I think Arsenal could easily spend the requisite money for Mbappé and still handle the rest of their transfer business.
The lowest estimate of Wenger’s summer spending budget is 100m, roughly what he spent last summer. The Ornacle said 150m, but its impossible to know if that is a net figure or includes salaries. So, for argument’s sake, let’s say the the 100m is a net spend figure. Assuming Arsenal sell Kieran Gibbs, Jack Wilshere, Mathieu Debuchy, Carl Jenkinson, Joel Campbell, David Ospina, Wojeich Szczesny, Chuba Akpom, and Lucas Perez, that’s minimally 65m to add to the 100m figure.
Arsenal’s needs coming into the summer were left back, center forward, and central midfield. They took care of the left back on a free with the signing of Sead Kolasinac. Spending even 120m in a transfer fee for Mbappé would leave 45m to purchase a central midfielder. That figure is about 10m over the amount OGC Nice want for midfielder Jean Michaël Seri. That amount would probably land you Corentin Tolisso from Olympique Lyonnais.
Arsenal don’t need depth, they need two more Champions League-starter caliber players in attack and midfield. With the obscene amount of money they have to spend, not only can they afford to overspend, they should overspend to secure the services of the right players.
It’s impossible to put a value on Mbappé at the moment. He’s an 18 year old whose output has been that of a superstar, with the underlying performances of a very good to great player. It’s reasonable to think, even if his hot finishing cools a bit in the near term, he’s only going to get better. He plays for a team that seemingly would be willing to sell for the right price. TV rights money has skyrocketed, making that price obtainable to multiple top clubs. The current market is overwhelmingly based on an ability to pay.
I agree with Bozz, Alvaro Morata is a great player and would be a great signing. He’d probably be slightly better in the short term, though he’s never started more than 16 league matches in a season. He’s certainly still got potential, but as he’s over 6 years older than Mbappé, not nearly as much. Also, signing Real Madrid’s castoffs doesn’t quite give the same club-boosting effect of beating Real Madrid to their transfer targets. Once we undoubtedly whiff on Mbappé, we certainly should target someone in the Morata range though reports suggest we may already be moving on to another French striker, Alexandre Lacazette.
Arsenal can pay. If Arsene Wenger believes Mbappé is already capable of starting for Arsenal, and will eventually be a superstar, then it should at least make an offer and put the decision in Monaco and Mbappé’s hands.