AL HILAL, FROM OUTTA NOWHERE!
Kylian Mbappe's future had seemingly been heading towards a dreary conclusion this summer with a move to Real Madrid inevitable. With Paris Saint-Germain determined to garner a fee for their superstar before his contract expires next year, the Spanish giants were believed to be the only club capable of financing a deal for the Frenchman despite intrigue from the Premier League.
Mbappe, meanwhile, has his heart set on the Spanish capital.
However, the wealthiest of spanners has been thrown in the works. The financial might of Saudi Arabia and their unrelenting determination for football relevancy has seen Al Hilal table a world-record offer for Mbappe.
Their €300m bid has been accepted by PSG, and Mbappe will undoubtedly mull over Al Hilal's mammoth salary offer believed to be worth a staggering €700m. Bonkers, right? Absolutely. But, remarkably, it is feasible. Al Hilal could actually pull this off.
Can Al Hilal afford Kylian Mbappe?
Well, they wouldn't have made the offer if they couldn't afford it.
At the start of June, the country's ministry of sport revealed that the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF), who own a majority share in Newcastle, will be taking control of four Saudi Pro League clubs - widely regarded as the biggest four in the country: Al Hilal, Al Nassr, Al Ittihad, and Al Ahli.
PIF now owns a 75% stake in each of these clubs, essentially topping them up with bottomless pits of cash.
Saudi's PIF retained its status as the sixth largest sovereign wealth fund on the planet earlier this year, with the latest data suggesting it boasts a net worth of $607.42bn. With no financial fair play rules to contend with, there's no questioning that Al Hilal could finance their proposed move for Mbappe, as ludicrous as it seems.
How many more foreign players can Al Hilal sign?
Every Saudi Pro League club can register eight foreign players over the course of the season. Right now, Al Hilal's quota is full after they made three big name signings earlier this summer.
If Mbappe accepts the club's proposal, Al Hilal will have to ditch one of their five other foreign players. Former West Brom star Matheus Pereira is on their books but spent last season out on loan, while they also boast former Porto forward Moussa Marega, South Korean international Jang Hyun-soo, former Sporting CP winger Andre Carillo and Brazilian striker Michael.
The latter seems the most likely candidate for the chop, although Pereira did fall out of favour before his loan move away.
The four clubs owned by PIF have all filled their foreign players quota ahead of the new season.
What about Kylian Mbappe to Real Madrid?
It doesn't appear as if Mbappe's potential move to Saudi Arabia will deny the Frenchman to chance to don Real Madrid colours in 2024.
While agreeing to sign for Al Hilal will obviously prevent him from joining this summer, Mbappe could sign a one-year deal with the Saudi Pro League club and move to Los Blancos on a free transfer next summer.
While there are multiple European clubs supposedly interested in signing Mbappe either this summer or next, including Barcelona, Mbappe has his heart set on a move to the Spanish capital. It's just a matter of when the move will happen, and how much richer he'll be by the time he ends up at the Bernabeu.
Who have Al Hilal signed this summer?
Al Hilal have parted ways with three foreign players to facilitate these moves. Luciano Vietto and Odion Ighalo departed as free agents, while Gustavo Cueller was sold to Al Shabab.
Saudi clubs had previously targeted ageing superstars before Al Hilal acquired Ruben Neves from Wolves in a deal worth €55m. He'll be joined in midfield by Lazio icon Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, who eventually left the Eternal City in favour of the riches in the Middle East.
Chelsea happily handed Kalidou Koulibaly to the Saudi club following one bleak year at Stamford Bridge, letting him leave for less than what they brought him for last summer.