French soccer icon Kylian Mbappe could be headed to Saudi Arabia, after a club in the oil-rich kingdom made an unprecedented bid for the Les Bleus captain.
A transfer would open the door for Al-Hilal to open talks for an even more lucrative deal, even if it's just for one year.
Mbappe, top scorer of the 2022 World Cup, is under contract with PSG for this upcoming 2023-24 season and the 24-year-old is reportedly seeking to join Spanish world power Real Madrid starting in the 2024-25 campaign.
The $332 transfer would top the $262 million PSG paid for Brazilian star Neymar, who was sent to Paris from Barcelona in summer 2017.
While transferring contracts in world soccer is generally a routine act, a generational talent like Mbappe presents a unique case.
Transfers often involve a player who has been surpassed by teammates and is no longer in the starting 11. Other transfers move productive players off struggling teams to clubs with championship aspirations.
In both of those cases, there’s usually no debate between club and player that a change in scenery would benefit all. Neither of those scenarios apply here.
It’s not known if Mbappe would need convincing to leave the Ligue 1 champs to Saudi Arabia, where professional soccer is relatively new.
Mbappe has already said he’s willing to sit out the 2023-24 season on his way to free agency in summer 2024.
Should Mbappe end up playing in Saudi Arabia, it'd be yet another major acquisition for the kingdom, which is seeking to increase its soft power on the world stage via sports.
Last month, the PGA Tour announced it would merge with its rival LIV Golf, a Saudi-backed men’s golf organization that formed just last year.
Critics of Saudi Arabia claim the kingdom is spending major dollars as part of a "sportswashing" effort to buy global credibility in light of human rights abuses and the killing of U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The move quickly caught the attention of some athletes in the U.S. who joked that the offer had gotten their attention.
An X post from Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo caught Mbappe's attention.