Paris St-Germain are prepared to sell Kylian Mbappe this summer rather than risk losing him for free in a year’s time, after he told the French club he will not renew his contract.
There was a deadline of 31 July for Mbappe, 24, to tell PSG if he was going to renew until 2025.
After months of talks, he has sent the club a letter saying he will not.
PSG’s record goalscorer would be free to leave for nothing at the end of next season and the move could be a negotiating tactic.
However, as the French champions try to readjust their team-building policy after years of buying star players with no obvious coherent strategy, PSG have resolved not to let Mbappe go for nothing, with the club irritated that the letter was leaked in the media before they saw it.
It means that unless they get assurances about the 2018 World Cup winner’s future intentions, they will sell him in a move that would put Europe’s leading clubs on alert.
Real Madrid are long time admirers of the Frenchman and he rejected a move to the Bernabeu to stay at PSG last year.
The exit of Karim Benzema to Saudi Arabia means Real need a striker, although it had been thought Tottenham’s Harry Kane was at the top of their list.
Mbappe, who joined PSG in 2017 initially on loan from Monaco before a 180m euros move, has scored 212 goals in 260 games.
He has 38 goals in 68 games for France, including a hat-trick in last year’s final in Qatar, as France lost to Argentina on penalties.
Mbappe finished as Ligue 1’s top scorer in each of the last five seasons and has won five league titles in his six seasons at PSG.
PSG ended 2022-23 with just the Ligue 1 title after once again failing to win the Champions League, losing to Bayern Munich in the last-16.
Mbappe would be the second high-profile forward to leave the Parc des Princes this summer, after Argentina forward Lionel Messi left at the end of his two-year contract to join Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami.
Neymar, the third member of PSG’s superstar frontline last season, has been linked with a big-money move to Saudi Arabia.