Paris Saint-Germain president Nasser Al-Khelaifi has claimed that the club fought off fierce competition for the signature of Kylian Mbappe but eventually landed the wonderkid for less than their rivals offered.
Mbappe became PSG’s second blockbuster signing of the summer shortly before deadline day when he signed on a one-year loan from Monaco.
Mbappe 7/10 to score against Celtic
Once the Ligue 1 giants exercise their purchase option at the end of the current season, the potential €180 million fee will see the 18-year-old become the world’s most expensive teenager — and second only after Neymar in the history of football transfers.
Al-Khelaifi, however, now assures that there were other clubs, whom he declined to name, who were willing to pay even more for Mbappe.
“It was very competitive, trust me,” Al-Khelaifi explained to the Telegraph.
“Some other clubs offered him more than us. Every big club wanted him. But we explained to him our project and the ambition of the club and he’s French, he’s a Parisian and he had the club in his heart.
“He wanted to stay in France and defends the French colours in the Champions League. It’s deep inside him.
“He wants to write history here and he has history here already — you saw the pictures of him [at his unveiling] when he was here 10 years ago? A picture does not lie. He loves the club and it’s his dream to play for Paris Saint-Germain.”
Some observers have questioned how PSG have managed to complete the signings of Neymar and Mbappe while staying inside UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations, with calls for the European governing body to look in to the transfers.
But the PSG president rejects the notion of financial wrongdoing while affirming that the deals are part of an ambitious project to expand the PSG brand worldwide.
“There is pressure from other clubs [to investigate] but I don’t think Uefa will be influenced by the pressure because they are very professional and very serious,” he said.
“Today we have a good problem to solve — we don’t have enough jerseys! This is huge for us.
“I was in the US last week and I saw the jersey of Paris Saint-Germain everywhere. It is the same in Asia and Latin America, the Middle East.”
“Neymar is an international superstar. An international brand. Everybody is asking ‘What’s going on in France and in the French league? Neymar is playing for Paris Saint-Germain!’ Even people who are not interested in football are saying that.
“Neymar’s first match in Guingamp was broadcast to 183 countries. It was amazing for France and the French league. It is good also for the Champions League because you will have another club competing — I am not saying by any means we are there yet — but it’s important to have new clubs coming and clubs with ambition.”
PSG kick off their Champions League campaign with Neymar and Mbappe in tow on Tuesday, when they visit Celtic at Parkhead.