The Era Of Player Power: How The Mbappe Deal Sets A Dangerous Precedent For The Future Of Football

The Era Of Player Power: How The Mbappe Deal Sets A Dangerous Precedent For The Future Of Football

On May 22nd, 2022, Kylian Mbappe walks onto the field of the Parc des Princes and holds up a t-shirt saying 2025. The Mbappe saga that went on for close to a year came to an end as the Frenchman finally signed a new contract with PSG.

As the news broke and details of his contract emerged, it sent a shockwave through the football universe. Kylian Mbappe signed the most lucrative contract in the history of sports. According to the Italian paper ‘La Reppublica’, the striker is set to earn 435 million euros over the next 3 years between his signing on fee and weekly wages.

Mbappe’s contract: the start of a shift in football

While these astronomical numbers may seem unreal, it is the power Mbappe will reportedly receive at the club wherein the problem lies. It is reported that Mbappe will have a say in who the next manager will be, he will have a say in player signings and who the next sporting director will be. Staggering.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with a player negotiating a contract that financially secures himself and his family for life. But the amount of power given to him almost changes his role in the team and in the broader perspective, the club.

Football is a team-based sport, with 11 players, and it is nearly impossible to create a title-winning team without everyone pulling their weight. Such a contract places Mbappe clearly above the other players and also the manager and officials running the show behind the scenes.

“The danger is that PSG becomes Mbappe FC,” said France 1998 World Cup winner Bixente Lizarazu.

This clearly puts enormous pressure on PSG as Mbappe has more influence & power off the field as well as on it.

Further, it creates a lot of uncertainty at the club post-2025. It is unlikely that he will sign another extension and is bound to leave at some point. So, it’s a case of the club submitting to the will & whims of the player, instead of the other way around.

The Madrid move is bound to happen eventually, what does PSG do then?

If you look at any of the top teams at the moment, like Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea, they’re successful because of the clear vision set behind the scenes and execution on the field.

While it is undeniable that Mbappe is one of the best players in the world, a footballer can never be bigger than a football club, and unfortunately, that is what appears to be the case in this situation.

A single-player having so much power is dangerous. Other budding superstars will look at how these 3 years pan out for Mbappe and may want to go down the same path.

This deal got the headlines, but it’s just another example of the growing player power in football today. Countless times in the past, we’ve seen managers get the sack due to the influence of big-name players. Things off the field now affect things on it too.

Many labelled Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Manchester United a PR campaign to compensate for the revenue lost by United failing to qualify for the Champions League.

Recently, Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger also managed to manufacture a move to Real Madrid despite the club & the fans wanting him to stay on. Liverpool’s Sadio Mane is also looking to make a move away from Anfield while in the Bundesliga, Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski is making all sorts of noises in the media trying to engineer a move away from the Allianz Arena.

These are just examples of players dictating the terms and not the club.

The top footballers are brands in themselves. The likes of Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar, and now Mbappe and Haaland have substantial social media reach that clubs see as a valuable source of revenue. These players also know that any top team in the world would sign them in a heartbeat, giving them the upper hand in negotiations.

This is putting clubs in a difficult position, as, on many occasions, they have no option but to submit to the whims of these superstars or risk losing them to rivals.

In today’s world, it is the players that are calling the shots at the very top level, not clubs. It further elucidates how the landscape of the player & club dynamic is changing, with players becoming more influential and dictating terms in this era of social media, with player power coming to the fore.

We’ve seen many players abuse their power in the past, using their influence to make decisions that are reserved for the management and club hierarchy.

Could we see a future where all major clubs bend to the whims of these superstars and where players call the shots instead of clubs?

Although it remains to be seen, this is how the future is panning out and player power is dangerously destabilizing the way football clubs operate.

The Mbappe deal is just the start and in the coming decades, this trend could see the balance of power shifting to players for the foreseeable future.

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