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Mbappe arrival leaves Barca fearing Madrid domination

China Daily | Updated: 2024-06-05 07:10
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File photo of Kylian Mbappe. [Photo/Agencies]

Real Madrid took the Spanish title back from Barcelona at a canter this season and, after claiming a record 15th Champions League, its signing of world soccer's biggest star Kylian Mbappe rubs yet more salt in its rival's wounds.

Los Blancos' addition of Mbappe to an already star-studded squad is a striking statement of intent and could tilt the domestic balance of power even further in Madrid's favor.

Barcelona, grappling with self-inflicted debilitating financial challenges, cannot keep up in the arms race with Madrid.

Mbappe arrives for free at the end of his Paris Saint-Germain contract, but Barcelona would not be able to afford neither the 25-year-old's lavish salary, nor his astronomical signing-on fee.

Over the past decade Barca has squandered hundreds of millions of euros on failed signings, including Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann, as well as satisfying a sky-high wage bill.

Madrid's financial muscle is showcased by the fact it already boasts Vinicius Junior, who likes to play in the same area on the left side of the attack, so Mbappe could even be considered a luxury purchase.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti will have to reconfigure his attacking set-up, with Rodrygo potentially dropping out of the side to accommodate Mbappe.

However, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez sees Mbappe as the final piece of the puzzle to go with its completed Santiago Bernabeu stadium refurbishment.

In contrast, of late, Barcelona has contented itself with loan arrivals and out-of-contract stars reaching the tail-end of their careers who are looking for one last challenge.

It was unable to adequately replace veteran defensive midfielder Sergio Busquets last summer and its defense crumbled.

France captain Mbappe's marquee arrival, and numerous other already acquired young stars, including England international Jude Bellingham, can help Madrid dominate La Liga for years to come.

In response, Barcelona may look to hit back by targeting Nico Williams from Athletic Bilbao for the left flank of its attack.

The Spain international's 50 million euro ($54.5 million) release clause makes him a more financially feasible option for the cash-strapped Catalans than other players of similar quality.

However, any significant arrivals would require Barcelona to first offload players to balance the books, potentially sacrificing some squad depth and balance.

The Catalans are reduced to hoping that, given his superstar status, Mbappe's arrival could upset the harmony in Madrid's dressing room.

Ancelotti may also take time to find the best system to fit the forward into.

Having committed to giving part of its television revenue away for the next quarter of a century in exchange for significant investment two summers ago, Barcelona will need to rely heavily on its La Masia youth academy.

Several brilliant young players, including Lamine Yamal and Pau Cubarsi, have emerged recently, offering hope that the club can continue to counter Madrid's millions with homegrown talent.

Barcelona has been on the sharp end of Mbappe's explosive talent already, with the forward netting twice in April to knock it out of the Champions League last eight.


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