French champion Monaco has not reached an agreement to sell rising star Kylian Mbappe to Real Madrid, or any other team, according to club vice-president Vadim Vasilyev.
Reports in Spain and France have said a deal is in place, with sports daily L’Equipe saying Wednesday that the club has agreed a world record 160 million euros ($186 million) transfer fee for the 18-year-old striker, rising to 180 million euros ($210 million) with additional payments.
However, Vasilyev dismissed claims of a done deal.
"I’ve read several things in the press. I can assure you that as of today we don’t have any agreement, neither with Real Madrid and neither with other clubs," Vasilyev told a news conference Wednesday. "It’s true that we’ve had some offers, very big offers. All the big clubs want him, he’s the biggest prospect in European football, so it’s perfectly normal that there’s so much media attention."
Mbappe burst onto the scene in extraordinary fashion last season, scoring 26 goals despite only breaking into the team in October.
He became the youngest player to reach 15 goals in Europe’s top five leagues since former Golden Ball winner Michael Owen for Liverpool in 1998; the youngest to have reached five goals in the Champions League; and the first player to score in each of the first four Champions League knockout rounds he played in.
Last week, Monaco issued a statement telling leading European clubs to stop making unauthorized approaches for Mbappe. It did little to quell speculation that Mbappe is heading to Madrid, where he would be coached by France great Zinedine Zidane, who is Mbappe’s soccer idol. Mbappe met Zidane when he visited Madrid as a 14-year-old, but instead signed with Monaco.
Vasilyev has not completely ruled out a sale, but the preference is to offer Mbappe a new and vastly improved contract, so that he stays at least one more season.
Monaco begins its title defence with a home game against Toulouse on Aug. 5.
"We are maintaining the same objective, talking about a contract extension. But the extension must be in line with the economic policy of our club. I hope that we succeed," Vasilyev said. "But you shouldn’t push it too much as it’s a very important decision to make, especially for Kylian. He has to make the right decision, whether to stay or not. I find that there’s too much media pressure on him. I remind you that he’s still only 18 and it’s not easy to handle."
Monaco has sold key players from last season.
Playmaker Bernardo Silva and rampaging left back Benjamin Mendy both joined Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, while imposing central midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko was a priority signing for Chelsea boss Antonio Conte. Forward Valere Germain, one of Monaco’s unheralded players last season, has joined Marseille while midfielder Nabil Dirar went to Turkish side Fenerbahce. Along with two other sales, the club has raised a total of 157 million euros ($183 million).
The headline on the front page of L’Equipe on Wednesday summed up the general feeling that Monaco is significantly weakening its side, while title rival Paris Saint-Germain is reportedly ready to sign Brazil star Neymar from Barcelona for 220 million euros ($256 million).
"A Quoi Joue Monaco?" (What Is Monaco Playing At?) the headline read.
Speculation has linked big clubs with moves for both Monaco central midfielder Fabinho — who can also play at fullback — and for the extravagantly skilled left midfielder Thomas Lemar.
They, at least, will not be leaving just yet.
"Fabinho is an indispensable player in midfield, and there have been offers from the biggest clubs. I read things about Lemar as well, but he’s also staying," Vasilyev said. "We’ve discussed it. They are both staying. I don’t think you should expect other departures now, more likely arrivals."