In pursuit of strengthening their squad, Al Hilal, the Saudi team, shocked the football world with a staggering €300 million ($332m) bid for Kylian Mbappé. This audacious offer comes after their missed opportunity to sign Lionel Messi. The proposition also holds the prospect of pairing Mbappé with Cristiano Ronaldo in the oil-rich kingdom, creating an unparalleled star duo.

Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) confirmed the bid and granted Al Hilal permission to directly negotiate with Kylian Mbappé. However, sources reveal that the French striker has no interest in the proposal, indicating his focus on other potential opportunities.

The 2018 World Cup winner currently finds himself in a contract standoff with PSG. He opted against the option of a 12-month extension on his deal, intending to leave as a free agent at the end of the upcoming season. Real Madrid remains a highly speculated destination for him.

Should the transfer to Real Madrid materialize, Mbappé could be entitled to an astonishing €100 million signing on fee. Additionally, staying with PSG until the end of the season would earn him an €80 million bonus this September.

Al Hilal’s audacious bid aims to break records and make Mbappé the most expensive player in history. Surpassing the $262 million PSG paid for Neymar in 2017.

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The move forms part of Saudi Arabia’s ambitious recruitment drive to attract some of football’s biggest stars to its shores. Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kanté, and Roberto Firmino are already among the notable names who have joined the country’s lucrative league.

While some high-profile players choose to ply their trade in Saudi Arabia, others opt for different destinations. Messi, for instance, turned down Al Hilal and chose to join MLS team Inter Miami CF after leaving PSG.

These moves are part of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s broader vision to utilize the nation’s vast oil wealth. By providing new opportunities for Saudi Arabia’s youth and enhance the country’s global presence in sports.

However, the ambitious sporting ventures face criticism and skepticism. Critics refer to it as sportswashing, alleging that such moves aim to divert attention from the kingdom’s human rights concerns and controversies, including the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

Despite the criticism, Saudi Arabia remains determined to make its mark in the international sports arena through substantial investments and high-profile acquisitions.