In case you’ve been sleeping under a rock for the last couple of days, Lionel Messi is on the verge of joining Paris Saint-Germain.
The divorce between Messi and Barcelona seems truly final this time, and the French behemoths are closing in on what would be the biggest signing of the QSI era at the club.
Yet the potential signing of Messi, in addition to the signings of Gianluigi Donnarumma, Achraf Hakimi, Sergio Ramos and Gini Wijnaldum, must all surely point to a departure of Kylian Mbappé.
It remains to be seen how the Parisians can justify signing all of the aforementioned names, not to mention extending Neymar’s ultra-lucrative contract, and still somehow keep Mbappé in a year when they lost an estimated €174 million due to the pandemic.
Reports state that Mbappé has made it clear that he wants to move on from PSG, either this year or next, and that he won’t be swayed into signing a new contract. Real Madrid and Liverpool have been linked with the French superstar regularly over the past year.
If PSG are open to selling Mbappé this summer, could Liverpool feasibly afford him?
A (relatively) cut-price transfer wouldn’t necessarily be a problem for the club — albeit Liverpool still have to shift several fringe players in order to free up space. The major issue would be dealing with Mbappé’s wages.
The 22-year-old earns an eye-watering £337,000 per week at PSG, amounting to around €20.7m (£17.5m) per year.
His current wages would easily put him ahead of every other player at Liverpool, by quite some distance. The club’s top earners are Thiago Alcântara and Mohamed Salah, both joint-top of the list on an estimated £200k per week.
Should Mbappé decide a move to Liverpool is best for his future, it stands to reason that he would want an increase on his current PSG wages, undoubtedly breaking into the £400,000-per-week category.
This would result in Mbappé receiving more than double the likes of Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané on a weekly basis. Simply staggering amounts of money.
As we have seen in the case of Barcelona, this would have a detrimental knock-on effect on Liverpool’s wage structure, which is already the second highest in England behind Manchester City.
That stat might surprise people, but whereas City have three players on £300k per week or more and then a huge drop to the rest of the squad, Liverpool have a lot of players within the £100k-200k range.
Signing Mbappé would add monumental pressure on Liverpool’s creaking wage bill. A consequence of such a move would be for longstanding players like the front three, plus Virgil van Dijk and others, to expect bumper new deals in line with what Mbappé is making.
As we have seen with Messi and Barcelona, this is not the route to go down.
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For all his genius, Messi’s loyalty came at a very high price for the Spanish giants, and this in turn drove up the wages of a number of players around the Argentine, to such an extent that Barca’s wages-to-turnover ratio, even without Messi, stands at a ludicrous 95%.
With Messi, it would’ve stood at 110%. The recommended ratio is around 65-70% for football clubs.
Given the lack of match day revenue due to the pandemic, Liverpool posted losses of £46m in the first half of this year. A move for Mbappé, as much as the fans crave it (and regardless of how good he would surely be), simply isn’t realistic this summer, or even next.
But the club has proven in recent years that they don’t need superstars to win every major honour in the club game. FSG’s strategy is in stark contrast to the largesse of Barcelona, PSG and Man City, yet has still paid massive dividends.
Barcelona haven’t won the Champions League since 2015; Juventus since 1996; PSG and Man City never.
The aim for the foreseeable future for the club is perhaps to find the next Mbappé, and not the original one. But the health of the club is secure.