'Accidental hero' Rodrygo pushing Mbappe AWAY from Real Madrid
The France international rejected the chance to join Los Blancos on a free transfer last summer by signing a new contract at Paris Saint-Germain, but the Santiago Bernabeu is viewed as the most likely next landing spot for arguably the world’s best player.
With his PSG deal set to expire in 2024, a move next year is on the cards, but given Mbappe’s history, he may well choose to extend his stay in Paris further.
Saudi Arabia will no doubt push to sign the 24-year-old next summer, but a transfer to Real Madrid holds an allure that football’s richest league may never replicate.
However, Mbappe could be prevented from joining the Spanish giants by Los Blancos themselves.
The Frenchman is the star of the show at PSG, but he would have to compete with the several big names if he were to join Carlo Ancelotti’s side.
Vinicius Junior and Jude Bellingham are the most prevalent and obvious examples, and both would be impacted by Mbappe joining; the former may see his preferred space on the pitch become crowded by the PSG star’s presence, while the latter could be moved deeper to facilitate the Frenchman.
A new name has entered the fray, however, having stamped his authority this campaign. Rodrygo has often played second-fiddle to Vinicius Jr at Real Madrid, not by their position on the pitch, but by their respective reputations.
But, he has flourished following Karim Benzema’s departure and is delivering big moments on a far more frequent basis than before.
Rodrygo is BACK
Rodrygo's latest endeavour saw him net twice and provide one assist in Real Madrid’s 3-0 win over Cadiz on Sunday. With his Brazil team-mate Vinicius absent through injury, Rodrygo stepped up and was the difference against a spirited Cadiz side.
It means he now has five goals and four assists in his last three Los Blancos appearances, having struggled during the early weeks of the new season.
Following Bellingham’s arrival, Ancelotti has used Rodrygo and Vinicius Jr as split strikers this campaign, but the former initially found it difficult to adapt to this new role.
In his first 15 Real Madrid appearances of the 2023-24 season, Rodrygo scored just two goals and provided one assist as Bellingham stole the show. Now, he has stamped his authority and is a key reason why they look set for a deep Champions League run and appear title favourites in LaLiga.
After his inspired performance versus Cadiz, Spanish outlet AS, via FootMercato, described Rodrygo as “transformed”, while naming him “a hero by accident.” Brahim Diaz was meant to start in place of the Brazilian, but a late illness bug ruled him out and Rodrygo was selected.
With Endrick joining in 2024 too, Real Madrid have a stacked Brazilian frontline and if Rodrygo can keep his current vein of form up, then Mbappe simply isn’t needed.
He may have been seen as a slight - a very slight - weakness in Los Blancos’ attack, but Rodrygo is back to his best and dreams of Mbappe have begun fading away.