I have read that Arsenal will need to bid €140,000,000 to land Kyllian Mbappe. There are a lot of ways to decide whether he is “worth it” and all of them are silly. There is no way for us to predict with certainty what this player is going to do in his career. He is an exceptional talent, that is certain. But even the best talent can be derailed by his own inner demons or through no fault of his own — one unlucky tackle can end anyone’s career. But typically speaking, when we get to the level of record-breaking transfer fees the player is a known quantity and almost always worth every penny spent.
For a club like Arsenal, a huge signing like Mbappe is important because it announces to the world (and their own players) that they are a serious club in the midst of an overhaul. Signing Mbappe makes it easier to convince Alexis and Özil to re-sign. And signing Mbappe means that Arsenal can stop looking for a center forward for a long time.
He’s just 18 years old – even if Arsenal only convince him to stay for five years, that’s 5 years without looking for another center forward. And if he’s got the work ethic needed to improve himself, the work ethic that most top signings have, he will only get better and stronger. If he works hard he could go from 15 to 20 to 25 to 30 goals a season. That means that in three or four years he will be worth even more than he is now.
“Worth even more than he is now” is a crazy thing to say. The last record transfer was Paul Pogba for €105m, if Arsenal pay €140m for Mbappe, that would be a 33% increase in record prices over just one year. Visually, this looks like this:
If you adjust Zidane’s transfer of €74m for inflation, he was actually just in line with the other records. 75 million Euros in 2001 is worth 105 million Euros today. So, while the chart shows a steady increase in price for top players, it’s mostly following inflation. What would be out of normal, however, is Mbappe for €140m. As you can see from the chart and the discussion above, his rumored asking price would be 33% inflation over one year and well above the norm.
But I think it’s not actually an insane amount of money, even though it’s actually an insane amount of money. The reason it’s both insane and not-insane is that the Premier League’s £10.4bn television contract hyper-inflates the Premier League’s spending power. We are just now seeing that bumper contract get paid and so it’s not a surprise that a club like Arsenal, who have lost Champions League football and need to make a statement that they are turning the club around, are ready to light a pile of their “dry powder.”
If Mbappe can stay healthy both mentally and physically he should be a top striker for years to come and over the next few years his outrageous price-tag will start to look normal.