Saudi Arabian soccer club Al Hilal has submitted a world-record bid of over $332 million (300 million euros) for Paris Saint Germain (PSG) striker Kylian Mbappé, according to multiple reports on Monday.
The 24-year-old has been left out of PSG’s squad for its preseason tour of Japan, with the club having issued him an ultimatum to sign a new contract or be sold.
PSG has not yet accepted the offer from Al Hilal but a club spokesperson told CNN it was considering the bid.
CNN has reached out to Al Hilal and Mbappé’s representatives for comment.
The current world record fee is $262 million (€222 million) when Neymar moved from Barcelona to PSG in 2017.
Despite publicly declaring he wants stay in Paris for the upcoming 2023/24 season, Mbappé is said to be unhappy in the French capital.
According to multiple reports in June, Mbappé informed PSG that he will not be exercising his third-year option in his contract, leaving the club with a decision to make – sell their star player this summer or let him walk for free in 2024.
Earlier this month, PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi outlined the club’s stance over the Frenchman’s future during a press conference held to welcome the team’s new head coach Luis Enrique.
“Our position is very clear – very clear. If Kylian Mbappé wants to stay, we want him to stay. But he needs to sign a new contract,” Al-Khelaifi told reporters.
“We cannot let the best player in the world right now leave for free. That is impossible. This is a French club, and as he has said, he is not planning to leave for free.
“If somebody has changed his mind, it is not our fault. We are not going to let one of the best players in the world leave for free. It is very clear.”
French media outlet L’Equipe reported on Monday that PSG’s owners are ready to accept the proposal from Al Hilal, which reportedly includes a $775 million (700 million euros) wage packet for Mbappé, and have allowed the Saudi club to speak with the World Cup winner.
While PSG seems ready and willing to sell the French superstar, Mbappé ultimately has control of which club he plays for as he is under contract for the year and can veto any move if it doesn’t meet his approval.
Spanish giant Real Madrid has been heavily linked with Mbappé ever since almost signing the French international striker ahead of the 2022/23 season and is reportedly the Frenchman’s ideal landing spot if he were to leave Paris.
A move to Saudi Arabia would be a major boost to the country’s ambitions to create a competitive soccer league.
The new SPL season kicks off on August 11. Al Hilal reached both the FIFA Club World Cup and the AFC Champions League finals last season.
Last month, the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) announced that Al Hilal was one of four Saudi clubs that have been transformed into companies, each of which is owned by PIF and non-profit foundations for each club.
The PIF is a government-controlled fund that has $650 billion in assets under management, according to its most recent filing. It is aiming to top $1 trillion within a few years. A state-owned investment fund like the PIF is not unique. It is ranked only the seventh-largest in the world, according to the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute.
While some of those are pension funds for a country’s citizens or public employees, others, like the PIF, operate the way a private sector investment firm might, trying to make money through a diversified portfolio of investments.
But what makes Saudi Arabia’s fund different from those private investment firms is that since the country faces widespread condemnation for its human rights record, its investments in sports and other entertainment companies can be seen as “sportwashing” – an attempt to polish that tarnished reputation.