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Mercato: Mbappé's decision, the Benzema case, reinforcements in Lyon... 9 questions before the close

Will Kylian Mbappé extend his contract at PSG or sign freely with Real Madrid? Six months after his arrival in Saudi Arabia, will Karim Benzema already return to Europe? Should we expect other recruits at Lyon and PSG? So many questions which should animate the end of a winter transfer window which has so far been relatively calm.

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Mercato: Mbappé's decision, the Benzema case, reinforcements in Lyon... 9 questions before the close

Will Kylian Mbappé extend his contract at PSG or sign freely with Real Madrid? Six months after his arrival in Saudi Arabia, will Karim Benzema already return to Europe? Should we expect other recruits at Lyon and PSG? So many questions which should animate the end of a winter transfer window which has so far been relatively calm.

The 2024 winter transfer window will close on Thursday February 1 at 11:59 p.m.

Yes. Clearly. The European teams remained generally wise, opting for stable numbers at mid-season. No major transfer marked the period as the purchase of Mykhaïlo Mudryk from Chelsea did in the winter of 2023 for more than 100 million euros. Last summer, it was the Saudi championship which caused panic with almost 800 million euros of investment. The Saudi Pro League teams are much less active this winter. Radio silence also in the Premier League, usually a major provider of amazing transfers. Undoubtedly the withdrawal of 10 points inflicted on Everton for violation of financial rules has cooled some enthusiasm.

Karim Benzema's Saudi adventure has turned sour in recent weeks. The 2022 Ballon d'Or, who left Real Madrid last summer to join Al-Ittihad, is in open conflict with his management. He even returned to training several weeks late at the start of the year. The reason ? The 36-year-old French striker would be disappointed with the competitiveness of the team and the Saudi championship. “In fact, Karim wants valuable recruitments, he wants players of his caliber,” a source based in Jeddah explained to L’Equipe. Except for N'Golo (Kanté), he feels alone, so he demanded the improvement of the squad in all lines, like at Al-Hilal. A few days before the resumption of the championship (February 7 against Al-Taï), the departure of Karim Benzema is more relevant than ever. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would do everything to prevent a return to Europe, where Chelsea and Manchester United have shown interest in welcoming the former Lyonnais. In order to preserve the image of the Saudi Pro League, Benzema could be exfiltrated to a club based in Riyadh (All-Ittihad is in Jeddah). With an astronomical salary (€100M per year) - the reason for his coming to the Saudis - it's difficult to imagine him returning to Europe.

It's the eternal soap opera. At the end of his contract in June with Paris Saint-Germain, who would like to extend it, Kylian Mbappé is still wanted by Real Madrid. The Spanish club could secure his arrival for next season without paying a transfer fee, provided they meet the player's salary requirements. Every day comes with its share of contradictory announcements. Asked about the French striker's arrival in Spain, La Liga president Javier Tebas gave hope to Real's supporters. “I think the percentage is very high. It’s a personal opinion,” said the Iberian leader. The fact remains that Kylian Mbappé is not required to make a decision before the end of the winter transfer window on January 31. The soap opera still has a bright future ahead of it.

The capital club signed two new Brazilian players this winter. The first is defender Lucas Beraldo, 20, from São Paulo. Paris paid around 20 million euros to secure his services. The second is defensive midfielder Gabriel Moscardo, 18 years old. Here too around 20 million euros were needed to convince Corinthians, who obtained the player's loan until June. PSG should no longer recruit new players this winter. In terms of departures, however, striker Hugo Ekitike, undesirable, could still leave the ship if its leaders come to an agreement with Eintracht Frankfurt. The German club has already made an offer.

According to L'Equipe, the leaders of Olympique de Marseille have placed Jonathan Clauss on the transfer list this winter. Under contract until 2025, the 31-year-old right-back would not completely satisfy the staff in terms of involvement. He would be accused of “taking it easy for the Euro”. The former Lensois recently found a place of choice in the plans of Didier Deschamps, the coach of the Blues, who could make him his starter at right back in Germany (June 14-July 14). The player's entourage, however, assures that he has no intention of leaving this winter, but rather this summer.

Dismissed by AS Roma on January 16 after 138 games on the bench, José Mourinho is a free agent. The Portuguese's name has already circulated in Italy, Saudi Arabia, Spain and even England. At 61 years old, the “Special One” still has a good rating on the trainer market.

OL have turned their heads around since the arrival of interim coach Pierre Sage, but recent defeats in Ligue 1 against Le Havre (3-1) and Rennes (2-3) have demonstrated the urgency of strengthening effective for the maintenance operation. The Lyon leaders have secured the arrival of experienced midfielder Nemanja Matic (35 years old), from Stade Rennes. But it is paradoxically on players of the future that the club broke the bank, with the expensive recruitment of young attackers Gift Orban (21 years old) and Malick Fofana (18 years old), from La Gantoise. Lyon also secured the services of Brazilians Adryelson (25 years old, defender) and Lucas Perri (26 years old, goalkeeper) from Botafogo, another club in the John Textor galaxy. “We would like more experienced players who bring the same experience and the same leadership as Matic. We are optimistic,” the American president told L’Equipe. Lyon is targeting Arnaut Danjuma (26 years old, Everton) and Saïd Benrahma (28 years old, West Ham) for the winger position, and has sent “important offers”. Textor also mentions “a defender, and maybe another midfielder.” To be continued.

Like Kylian Mbappé, many players from around the world of football will be without a contract this summer. If they do not extend, they will be free to commit wherever they wish. Since January 1, interested clubs have even been authorized to negotiate with the players concerned. Some stars of European football are in this situation, such as Toni Kroos (Real Madrid), Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Sergio Ramos (Sevilla FC), Jorginho (Arsenal), Koke (Atlético de Madrid), Thiago Alcantara (Liverpool ) or Marco Reus (Dortmund). French internationals are also part of the list, such as Adrian Rabiot (Juventus), Olivier Giroud (AC Milan) and Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco). In Ligue 1, PSG will have to manage the case of its goalkeepers Keylor Navas, Alexandre Letellier and Sergio Rico, all at the end of their lease.

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