The key to the signing of Kylian Mbappé: image rights

The player is considering renewing with PSG so as not to give Real Madrid the 50% of the sponsorships that the club requires

Kylian Mbappé celebrates a goal by PSG against Strasbourg.
Kylian Mbappé celebrates a goal by PSG against Strasbourg.AFP7 vía Europa Press (Europa Press)

In mid-March, after the elimination of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) from the Champions League at the Bernabéu, Real Madrid presented Kylian Mbappé's lawyers with the fourth and last formal offer to hire the soccer player: a €180 million signing-on fee, a salary of €40 million and 50% of the profits from his image rights. The lawyers were perplexed.

According to sources close to the player, the proposal, which weeks before had been considered the most generous offer in the history of soccer, suddenly left Mbappé's advisers cold. The disappointment hinged on the issue of image rights. As the club has done since Florentino Pérez assumed its presidency in 2000, Madrid demanded half of all the athlete’s sponsorship earnings. That transformed the scenario so much that now, a month and a half later, the French striker is seriously considering renewing with PSG.

Led by the lawyer Delphine Vertheyden, an expert in image rights, the lawyers who direct the player’s professional life informed his mother Fayza and his father Wilfried that, according to their estimates, a significant portion of Mbappé's net worth is linked to his advertising appeal for brands such as EA, Nike and Hublot. While his salary at PSG did not exceed €20 million, they calculated that he could bill €40 million in sponsorships this season. Their most optimistic projections see him making up to €70 million in the coming years. Mbappé has fielded sponsorship offers from a range of industries, including banking, commercial aviation, cars and technology. As the Qatar World Cup is set to be held later this year, companies are particularly interested in the athlete.

According to Mbappé's lawyers, Madrid argued that his presence at the Bernabéu would multiply his value, which would more than compensate for the 50% share. Vertheyden argues, however, that Mbappé had not needed Madrid to become one of the most profitable brands in world sports at the age of 23. People close to the negotiation say that if the player gave up half of his sponsorships, he would lose money.

Vertheyden and the player’s parents say that they are surprised: during almost two years of conversations, Madrid had not mentioned anything about the 50% share in image rights. They consider the demand excessive. And they recall with surprise that in January and February, before the Champions League crossing, Madrid had proposed the signing of a compensation contract: if the player did not sign for Madrid at the end of the season, he would pay a fine to the club, and if Madrid failed to sign him, Mbappé would collect the fine. The lawyers did not see any benefit for Mbappé, who, according to FIFA rules, has been free to negotiate with anyone he wanted since January.

The tranquility of the French

In the first week of April, Mbappé's advisers orchestrated a public appearance for their client to express that he did not want to give up his image rights. “I have not made a decision because there are new elements to consider,” he said, when asked in public if he had decided to sign for Madrid. When asked to explain, he was enigmatic: “Only new elements. I am calm and I will make the best possible decision together with my family.”

Without closing the door on Madrid, a month ago, the Mbappé family reopened negotiations with PSG about renewing the contract that ends next summer. In two weeks the princes of Qatar, owners of the club, presented an alternative that fascinated the lawyers: if Mbappé agreed to extend the contract for another two years, they would pay him a bonus of €80 million, plus a net salary of €40 million for the first and €50 for the second, taking advantage of the fact that Messi’s departure would lighten their salary budget.

If he renewed for three years, they would pay him €40 million net the first and €50 the second, with a signing-on fee of €130. If he renewed for more than three years, they would allow him to set the expiration date and they would pay him a €200 million bonus. From the fourth season on, when Neymar’s contract ends, they would offer him a salary of €60 million. Each of the offers allows Mbappé to maintain 100% of his sponsorship earnings.

Mbappé will now have the last word. He has yet to decide between the two imperfect alternatives: give up 50% of his image rights and lose money to go to Madrid, or commit to PSG without knowing whether the sheikhs will continue their investment in the team and improve their management of it.

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