Could One Player Ever Justify a $1 Billion Salary?

Saudi Arabia is reportedly willing to shell out $1.1 billion for a year of Kylian Mbappé's services 

Kylian Mbappé of France goes for the ball during a match against Greece.
Kylian Mbappé could be taking his talents to Saudi Arabia.
Christian Liewig - Corbis/Getty

In a move that has the potential to fundamentally change the way international soccer stars calculate their worth during contract negotiations, Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal is reportedly preparing to pay $1.1 billion to get French striker Kylian Mbappé to play for the club for a single season.

Al Hilal, one of four Saudi clubs in which the country’s sovereign Public Investment Fund recently acquired a 75% stake, is willing to pay Mbappé’s current team, Paris Saint-Germain, $332 million just to negotiate with him. If negotiations are successful, Al Hilal is then set to offer Mbappé a $776 million salary for one year of work, according to Front Office Sports.

Mbappé, 24, has only one year left on his contract with PSG and has informed the club that he intends to run down his deal and leave as a free agent in the summer of 2024. It’s widely believed Mbappé wants to join Real Madrid after the 2023-24 season when he hits free agency, per ESPN.

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If PSG is able to complete the deal with Al Hilal, they’ll be losing one of the top soccer players in the world, but they won’t be losing him without receiving anything in return. If they wait out his contract and let him depart in free agency, PSG will be unable to recoup any of the $197 million they spent to sign Mbappé from AS Monaco in 2017.

As for Mbappé, the money would be life-changing, and having the opportunity to earn it over such a short amount of time might be too good of an offer to pass up. To put it in perspective, $776 million is more than LeBron James has been paid to play in the NBA over the course of his career ($531 million), more than Tom Brady’s all-time NFL earnings ($332 million) and more than New York Mets owner Stephen Cohen is paying to field the most expensive team in the history of professional baseball ($367 million).

Unlike Lionel Messi of MLS, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and N’Golo Kante all took boatloads of Saudi cash to play in the Saudi Pro League.

“It’s amazing and I think if you have enough money you can get away with anything, including murder, and try to sign up all the top players in the world,” Tony Khan, the vice chair of the Premier League’s Fulham FC, told The Dan Le Batard Show. “Certainly they have approached a lot of great players and I am very, very interested to see where this goes.”

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