Real Madrid's long-term plan to lure Kylian Mbappe from Paris Saint-Germain could well be coming to the crunch in the summer.
According to Spanish publication AS, Real's 'Operation Mbappe' plan is approaching its moment of truth - the France striker's contract at PSG expires in June 2022 so this summer, with only a year remaining, he will be at a crossroads.
The Spanish giants believe the fee to sign Mbappe could range anywhere from €150million (£135m) to €222m (£200m), with PSG possibly wanting to recoup what they paid to sign Neymar from Barcelona in 2017 - £198m.
Mbappe's annual wage is said to come in at €21m (£19m), which AS say Real will be able to pay.
PSG have absolutely no desire to lose Mbappe, be it this summer or next but if the 22-year-old refuses to sign a new contract in France then they could be forced to reassess his situation in the summer so they don't lose him for a cut-price fee in his final year.
Because he will be over the age of 23 when his contract expires, he could then negotiate a free transfer from next January too.
AS say Real are confident Mbappe will want to move to Spain. They claim that the club's president, Florentino Perez, has had close contact with PSG's Qatari owners and has worked to forge a close relationship with them. At times, he has apparently contacted them to dismiss reports in the past linking them with a move for Neymar and even Mbappe.
The Spanish giants are hoping their policy of appeasement will now come good but there is, of course, a mega financial side to things that Real also need to sort. Few clubs have been as heavily impacted financially as Real have been over the course of the last year.
So Madrid need to sell and there are six players who are immediately earmarked with having to find a new club.
Gareth Bale's future has long been away from the Bernabeu but it remains to be seen if Tottenham decide to keep him for another season after an injury-hit campaign so far.
Isco has been linked with Arsenal and has had a bit-part role under Zinedine Zidane this season.
Dani Ceballos is on his second straight season-long loan at Arsenal at present, while striker Luka Jovic, midfielder Brahim Diaz and defender Marcelo are all deemed to be on their way out to raise money for Mbappe, according to AS.
Real are also anticipating a return of supporters in the 2021-22 campaign which will allow their revenue to return to what it was before the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mbappe, already a World Cup winner with France, has scored 17 goals in 25 appearances for club and country so far this season.