Real Madrid are trying sign Kylian Mbappe from Paris Saint-Germain after informing the French giants of their willingness to pay up to €160m and entering talks.
Real have wanted the 22-year-old for a long time and that admiration is reciprocated. But having been on a downward trajectory since last winning the Champions League in 2018, they could make Mbappe the centrepiece of a fresh team for the next chapter.
If Real can pull off the transfer before the deadline at the end of the month, it will be second only to Lionel Messi’s move to PSG from Barcelona in terms of magnitude this summer.
Shirts bearing Mbappe’s name will be a must-have item for Real fans, as well as plenty of neutrals, all over the world. As things stand, however, there is no shirt number for him because Real’s first-team squad is at capacity and they would have to cut someone loose before registering Mbappe.
La Liga rules dictate that players in every club’s first-team squad must be registered with shirts numbering 1-25, with 1, 13 and 25 exclusively reserved for goalkeepers. Numbers 26-50 can also be worn, but only by dual-registered players promoted from a club’s B team.
Two games into the 2021/22 campaign, every Real outfield shirt number is occupied. The first-team squad is already over its maximum capacity and midfielder Dani Ceballos has not been given a shirt for this season since his loan return from Arsenal.
Ultimately, Mbappe might be expected to wear number seven at Real, the iconic jersey worn by Raul and Cristiano Ronaldo, but that is currently in use by the fit-again Eden Hazard. The other option could be 10, with current wearer Luka Modric almost 36 and surely close to retirement.
But if he does join Real this summer, Mbappe’s first shirt number might therefore have to be a temporary one and there are players who could be moved on, most likely on loan, to make room. In fact, AS report that the five shirt has been reserved for him as it was the number worn by Zinedine Zidane.
Luka Jovic spent last season out on loan and has only played nine minutes across Real’s first two La Liga games. His departure would free up the number 16 shirt. Alternatively, sending out Mariano Diaz would make 24 available, or finally cutting ties with Isco would open up the 22 shirt.
Gareth Bale, who was re-assigned 18 when he returned from a loan at Tottenham, is another who could be sacrificed if there is a willing club to take him on, although the Welsh winger has actually started twice and scored in La Liga already this season.