Fofana Arsenal, Maignan Man City & more

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Kylian Mbappe’s transfer to Real Madrid has now been made official, as expected, with Paris Saint-Germain having no issue with the player being announced as a new signing for the European champions even though he’s technically still under contract at the Parc des Princes until the end of this month.

But we’ve also heard some speculation about Kylian’s brother Ethan Mbappe in recent times. Lille and a number of other clubs are keen on him, but Lille seems at the moment to be the most credible destination for him to move to. It does feel like he is going to be following his older brother in leaving PSG, and I think it’s safe to say that, after the trading of barbs in the media between Mbappe and PSG, that the relations between the two parties are definitely strained.

I expect Ethan Mbappe will now move elsewhere, and at one point there was even some fanciful speculation about him moving to Real Madrid as well, but Lille is one of the more serious links. I think it would be a good fit for both the player and the club if it does end up going through.

The younger Mbappe is highly rated, but it’s also difficult when there’s the obvious comparison with an older sibling who is the superstar not just of French football but of world football. It’s a bit unfair because Ethan has earned the senior minutes he’s had with PSG, and had the Kylian situation not compromised his potential future with PSG, he might’ve been a player to break into the team and have a pathway to becoming a key part of the starting XI.

It’s fair to say that now seems unlikely, so Mbappe Junior will likely have to spread his wings and go somewhere else. Lille looks a strong possibility, though the situation with the new head coach to replace Paulo Fonseca will need to be resolved first, with Bruno Genesio the favourite for the job but not confirmed yet. Until that’s sorted out it will be difficult for the deal to get done.

Still, PSG, in this kind of situation, tend to get an advantageous buy-back clause inserted, or a healthy percentage of the next sale, so they’ll be fairly well covered if Ethan Mbappe’s rise mirrors that of Kylian’s, but in general I think they’ll be keen to cut ties with Mbappe’s family and entourage as a whole, not just Kylian himself.

Youssouf Fofana has been linked again with Arsenal and we know that Monaco have to sell to survive this summer. Getting back into the Champions League lessens that need slightly, so they can be a bit more demanding with the price tag, but in general it makes sense that we’re seeing links with clubs like Arsenal as he is a player who I understand is sought after across Europe at the moment, not just at Arsenal and the Premier League, but PSG have been looking at him as well as he’s a top French talent who hails from the Paris region.

In terms of Fofana’s price tag, I don’t think we’ll see a similar price tag to when Aurelien Tchouameni went to Real Madrid a couple of years ago. But I do think that Monaco will be looking for upwards of around €50m, which makes it tricky for a club like PSG right now with the uncertainty over Ligue 1 TV rights. That could make it quite an advantageous situation for a club like Arsenal or anyone else in the Premier League who might be interested.

I think in general a number of top European clubs will be looking at the situation that French and Italian clubs find themselves in at this moment in time regarding TV rights and will hope to take advantage of that uncertainty, and perhaps hope to land a couple of high-profile names for competitive rates, if not bargain prices.

With Fofana and Monaco, even at the best of times it’s clear that Monaco aren’t in a position to turn down that kind of interest and substantial offers for a player of Fofana’s calibre, so if the TV rights situation drags on for any longer they will have no choice, so it’s one to keep an eye on and it’s likely to be one of the bigger sales we see by a Ligue 1 club this summer.

Tiago Santos is another Ligue 1 talent attracting interest and it’s not a surprise to see big names like Juventus and AC Milan linked with the 21-year-old right-back. He’s done very well at Lille under Fonseca, and, having had the chance to see him up close a few times this season, I’ve always been very impressed with him – he does seem like one of a few players at Lille who could be on the move.

As well as Santos, names to watch at Lille will be Leny Yoro, Jonathan David, and Edon Zhegrova, but Santos is certainly up there. This is a big summer for Lille because they need to capitalise on their latest qualification for Europe and not lose too much talent, but at the same time, under a new coach, they need to start building for the future and shaping their team in a bit of a different way.

If that means selling Santos to enable a bit of movement elsewhere, and perhaps keeping one of their other bigger names for next season, then I think that’s something Lille would be keen to explore. You just have to look at the latest France squad for the Olympics, you just have to look at the young talent Lille have in defence in particular, so I think there’ll be more interest there at some point, and with Santos it also wouldn’t surprise me if a Premier League club does come calling.

Similarly to Fofana’s future, it could depend a lot on the TV rights deal for Ligue 1, as well as the timing of the interest, with the French transfer window opening this Monday.

AC Milan and France goalkeeper Mike Maignan is a player of interest to a number of top European clubs at the moment. There have been some links with Manchester City as a potential replacement for Ederson, while my understanding is that PSG have also been looking at his situation potentially with a view to bringing him back at some point in the future.

There are big questions about Gianluigi Donnarumma in terms of whether he’s really the right fit for Luis Enrique’s style of play, and there is an expectation that PSG will complete one of their first signings of the summer with Russian goalkeeper Matvey Safonov to provide competition for Donnarumma. It will be interesting to see, if that does get completed, what that might mean for Donnarumma for the long term.

I certainly think a move for someone like Maignan would be interesting as well because it might then mean PSG are tempted to consider offers for Donnarumma, who might then be an option to replace Ederson at Man City. He might not be the best fit for Pep Guardiola, but then there are questions about his future as well, and where he sees himself, and PSG have historically had an interest in Bernardo Silva as well, so perhaps there’s a deal to be done there.

City, of course, have a very talented backup goalkeeper in Stefan Ortega, so it’s probably a situation where Maignan would want guarantees that he’d be the first choice and undisputed starter, especially as he’s now number one for Les Bleus as well, so I think that would be a prerequisite before any club comes in, and given that he’s one of Milan’s top players, it’s difficult to see them not asking for a significant transfer fee in the region of €50m, given that he’s one of the top talents on the goalkeeping market.

It’s an interesting story, and one to keep an eye on, but it’s not necessarily one I’m convinced will end up leading to Maignan joining City.

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