Mbappe’s Arrival Leaves Barca Fearing Real Madrid Domination

Los Blancos' addition of Mbappe to an already star-studded squad is a striking statement of intent and could tilt the domestic balance of power even further in Madrid's favour.

French soccer player Kylian Mbappe listens to French President as he arrives for a lunch at the team’s training camp, as part of the team’s preparation for the UEFA Euro 2024 European football championships in Clairefontaine-en-Yvelines on June 3, 2024. (Photo by Sarah Meyssonnier / POOL / AFP)


Real Madrid wrestled the Spanish title back from Barcelona at a canter this season and, after claiming a record 15th Champions League, their signing of world football’s biggest star Kylian Mbappe rubs yet more salt in their rivals’ wounds.

Los Blancos’ addition of Mbappe to an already star-studded squad is a striking statement of intent and could tilt the domestic balance of power even further in Madrid’s favour.

Barcelona, grappling with self-inflicted debilitating financial challenges, cannot keep up in the arms race with Madrid.

Mbappe arrives for free at the end of his Paris Saint-Germain contract, but Barcelona would not be able to afford the 25-year-old’s lavish salary or sign-on fee.

Over the past decade Barca squandered hundreds of millions of euros on failed signings, including Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann, as well as satisfying a sky-high wage bill.

Madrid’s financial muscle is showcased by the fact they already boast Vinicius Junior who likes to play in the same area on the left side of the attack so Mbappe could even be considered a luxury arrival.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti will have to reconfigure his attacking set-up, with Rodrygo Goes potentially dropping out of the side to accommodate Mbappe.

However, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez sees Mbappe as the final piece of the puzzle to go with their completed Santiago Bernabeu stadium refurbishment.

By contrast Barcelona of late have contented themselves with loan arrivals and out-of-contract stars reaching the tail-end of their careers and looking for one last challenge.

They were unable to adequately replace veteran defensive midfielder Sergio Busquets last summer and their defence crumbled.

France captain Mbappe’s marquee arrival and numerous other already acquired young stars, including England international Jude Bellingham, can help Madrid dominate La Liga for years to come.

In response Barcelona may look to hit back by targeting Nico Williams from Athletic Bilbao for the left flank of their attack.

The Spain international’s 50 million euro release clause makes him a more financially feasible option for the cash-strapped Catalans than other players of similar quality.

However, any significant arrivals would require Barcelona to first offload players to balance the books, potentially sacrificing some squad depth and balance.

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Brace for Impact

The Catalans are reduced to hoping Mbappe’s arrival could upset the harmony in Madrid’s dressing room, given his superstar status. Ancelotti may also take time to find the best system to fit the forward in.

Having committed to giving part of their television revenue away for the next quarter of a century in exchange for heavy investment two summers ago, Barcelona will need to rely heavily on their La Masia youth academy.

Various brilliant young players including Lamine Yamal and Pau Cubarsi have emerged recently, giving hope they can continue to battle Madrid’s millions with homegrown talent.

Barcelona have been on the sharp end of Mbappe’s explosive talent already, with the forward netting twice in April to knock them out of the Champions League in the last eight.

Including a hat-trick in 2021, Mbappe has six goals in four games against Barcelona.

Other Spanish sides will be dreading Mbappe’s impact too.

With Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s goalscoring exploits in the past, it has been eight years since any player has scored 40 league goals, but Mbappe has the capacity.

Opponents will likely sit deeper and deeper against Madrid to stop Mbappe and Vinicius vaporising them on the counter-attack, as they so often did against Barcelona in their heyday under Pep Guardiola.

Now the Catalans are bracing themselves for what Madrid and Perez hope will be a similar era of glittering success rather than another failed Galactico experiment.