Monaco striker Kylian Mbappe's record-breaking move to either Barcelona or Real Madrid suffered a scare after the France international limped out of the Ligue 1 win over Toulouse after picking up a knee injury. Mbappe is seemingly on the brink of moving to one of the La Liga giants this summer, with senior figures at the principality club consigned to his departure.
The 18-year-old suffered a kick to his knee during the 3-2 win on Friday [4 August] and was substituted after 75 minutes of the game at the Stade Louis II, but is expected to recover in a few days. Nevertheless, the episode highlights how his life-changing move to Spain could yet collapse should he continue to turn out for his parent club.
Last week, The Guardian claimed Real had reached an agreement to sign Mbappe for a total of €180m [£161m], the highest fee ever paid for a teenager. The report adds that the forward would earn €7m-per-season after signing a six-year contract, taking the combined cost of the transfer including the fee and his wages to €222m [£198m].
Mundo Deportivo have since claimed that Mbappe wants to move to Barcelona to replace the outgoing Neymar, who has joined Paris Saint-Germain, with the youngster keen to link up with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez in the Catalans' attack. Ernesto Valverde's side are known to be keen to sign a replacement for Neymar, having recouped €222m from his move to Paris.
With Arsenal now not considered genuine contenders to acquire Mbappe - despite the player having held talks with manager Arsene Wenger - Barcelona and Real are set to duel to sign the Monaco hitman. The French club are hopeful of keeping Mbappe but for the first time senior officials have admitted his departure is imminent.
Vice-president Vadim Vasilyev has given hope to Barcelona and Real in their continued pursuit of Mbappe after conceding that he needs to leave for "sporting reasons". "Mbappe will make the right decision," told reporters according to AS. "He has never expressed a wish to leave us. We are, however, in conversation with him and contrary to what you may have seen in the press, it is not simply a case of money. It's more complicated than that. The player needs to move for the sake of sporting reasons."
Bernardo Silva, Benjamin Mendy and Tiemoue Bakayoko have already left a Monaco squad which beat PSG to the French title and reached the Champions League semi-finals last term, and the club are desperate to reduce the number of further departures. Thomas Lemar and full-back Fabinho have also been linked with moves away and manager Leonardo Jardim admits he is unable to prevent additional sales.
"It's important to keep all of the players who were important last season at the club," said Jardim, according to The Mirror. But down the years it has been shown that it is not always possible to keep hold of your players and you know how our project works. Therefore, our objective is to work with the players that are still here when the transfer window closes."
Barcelona and Real have both only made a handful of low key signings in the current transfer window as the giants search for a marquee addition to illuminate their respective summers. Zidane is bidding to improve a squad which won the Spanish title and a record 12th European Cup last season, while Valverde is naturally eager to cover the loss of Neymar ahead of his maiden campaign in charge.