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PSG and Real Madrid look for their own Liverpool Michael Edwards

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While it may not be the case for Paris Saint-Germain, for Real Madrid, at least, the era of excess is over for the time being.

Like Barcelona they have the need to placate their fan bases for whom there is no satisfaction in second place, and they have to do this while battling the dumpster fires that are their finances as a result of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.



Football clubs across the globe have found themselves wrangling with huge and unexpected losses, with broadcast deals in some countries severely impacted, commercial deals affected and, of course, having to deal with their inability to welcome fans into stadiums resulting in their matchday revenue almost disappearing.



But for the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona, decades of lavish spend and continued growth of the valuation of the clubs as businesses was something that they never thought would be challenged. Of course, the worst healthcare crisis in a century soon saw them have to face their financial distress.



The combined debt of Barcelona and Real runs into the billions, with a significant chunk of that due in the short term. Barcelona have agreed a refinancing package to help meet their obligations, but for both clubs, while they have added the likes of Sergio Agüero and David Alaba to their wage bills on hefty deals, those were a way to pacify the need for big names without spending on transfer fees, something that they can ill afford right now and the reason why Kylian Mbappé is someone beyond their reach.

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The two Spanish giants, along with Serie A side Juventus, remain espoused to the idea of the European Super League, refusing to bow to the pressure and threats of UEFA and FIFA for their failure to do what Liverpool and the other eight 'founding clubs' did back in April and repent.

They needed the Super League more than most, the £300m welcome payment that would have been forthcoming as well as the ability to generate far more through broadcast rights and fresh commercial opportunities would have been manna from heaven when dealing with the financial crisis that was exposed by COVID-19.

Florentino Perez, while he may bang the drum for the Super League's continuation and declare that it is a project that is by no means dead, will know that it has fallen flat on its face for the considerable future and contingency plans to place Real back at the summit of world football while knowing that clubs around them have been able to take strides forward while they regressed have to be made.

Luis Campos is a man in demand.

The 54-year-old Portuguese is seen in some quarters as the man who could decide where Kylian Mbappé's future lies.

Campos was the man who helped nurture the talents of the Frenchman whilst at AS Monaco, encouraging him to spurn the chance to move overseas too early and get his grounding with the Ligue 1 side, something that proved vital in his development prior to his £166m move to PSG in 2017.

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In his roles as sporting director at Monaco and, most recently, Lille, it has been Campos' philosophy of focusing on bringing through undervalued young talent and developing them that has been the cornerstone of the success of those teams, Monaco winning the 2017 Ligue 1 title, the same season the club reached the Champions League semi-final as the talented pool of players that also included the likes of Layvin Kurzawa, Yannick Carrasco and Mbappé reached a crescendo.

After arriving at Lille in 2016, the club were crowned 2020/21 Ligue 1 champions despite considerable financial distress behind the scenes, the group that Campos had helped assemble, that included players such as Sven Botman, Boubakary Soumare, Renato Sanches, Yusuf Yaz?c? and Jonathan David, beating a PSG side stacked with talent to the finishing post.

His Lille approach in identifying the likes of Yaz?c?, who had been playing in Turkey with Trabzonspor before his 2019 move, and once Liverpool-linked Botman, who was signed from Ajax's youth set up in 2020 for around £6m, showed he had a similar flair for helping to provide marginal gains for a team without the spending clout in the transfer market as some of their rivals.

That brings us to Michael Edwards.

Liverpool's sporting director has been credited with a key role in helping Jürgen Klopp transform the club's fortunes, delivering a Champions League and Premier League success despite being handed a transfer kitty less of that of some of those who they seek to overcome.

Signings such as Mohamed Salah, Andrew Robertson and Sadio Mané have all delivered far in excess of the fees that were paid for them, their values ballooning as a result of their personal success and the triumphs of Liverpool as a team.

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In the post-Covid world we will head into, where some clubs will be more reluctant to use their open cheque book policies that had been common place prior to the pandemic, finding the value in players to get the edge will be key, and clubs will all be looking for their own Michael Edwards.

Some reports suggest that Campos to Real, where he served as a scout between 2012 and 2013, is a done deal, although he remains unattached after leaving Lille and PSG are also keen on securing his services.

Real believe Campos can provide them with the nous that they simply haven't had, allowing them to navigate around the need to spend big money on players on to see their values tumble like buying a new Mercedes and driving it out of the showroom, down the road and scuffing the wheels in a massive pot hole.

They also think that the previous relationship Campos had with Mbappé will mean that they have a chance of snaring a generational talent if he allows his contract to run down in Paris over the next 12 months. It is their last bargaining chip to show they mean business when the football world knows they are a dwindling force because of their diminished spending power.

But PSG, while they have the money to offer Mbappé what he would want salary wise, are keen to have the knowledge of a man who played a significant role in denying them the Ligue 1 title this past season, despite spending far less. They also know that, like Real, having Campos on board strengthens their hand when it comes to getting Mbappé to put pen to paper on a new deal.

But Mbappé has stressed he will only be considering his future after the Euros, a competition where he looks set to shine and his stock to rise even higher than it already is.

Liverpool's own interest in Mbappé has never really strayed beyond them being, like any major club, always interested in the best players when the come available. But so problematic would be the salary and the break from the Fenway Sports Group transfer strategy and wage structure that is has only ever been a deal rooted in fantasy more than reality.

But while the question marks remain over his future there will always be speculation, and for Real and PSG they see Campos as a figure who could help make Mbappé's future part of their own future, and someone who could do what Michael Edwards has done for Liverpool in shaping their own transfer strategy for the coming years as football emerges, blinking, from a pandemic that has shaken it to its very core.


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