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A LOOK AT LA LIGA

Spain's big boys set to miss out big time

Mbappé gave Barcelona the runaround at the Camp Nou this week.
Mbappé gave Barcelona the runaround at the Camp Nou this week. / AFP
  • Kylian Mbappé and Erling Braut Haaland are destined to become the world's best players but neither will likely end up at Real Madrid or Barcelona

In normal times the debate would be about how Barcelona and Real Madrid divvy up the signings of Kylian Mbappé and Erling Braut Haaland. Both players are at an age and stage in their careers where the Spanish giants would be ready to break the bank to sign the two best young footballers on the planet. Instead the clubs are broke and may miss out on signing the two players who are set to dominate the game for the next decade.

For years they would take it in turns to anoint a new 'galáctico'. It started with Luis Figo and Zinedine Zidane, followed by the two Ronaldos, plus Ronaldinho.

Some haven't quite lived up to the billing, like Michael Owen, David Beckham, Nicolas Anelka and Robinho.

We haven't seen a Real Madrid cash splash since 176 million euros was invested in James Rodríguez and Gareth Bale over six years ago. Barça have blown their budget on the likes of Ousmane Dembélé, Philippe Coutinho and Antoine Griezmann.

Few of those in the two paragraphs above have proven value for money. There are no guarantees in football but Mbappé and Haaland look like sound investments. Mbappé, a World Cup winner as a teenager was the human hurricane which devastated the Camp Nou this week. His hat-trick virtually ended Barcelona's European aspirations and caused panic-buttons to be pressed.

Twenty-four hours later Haaland was showcasing his talents by scoring a brace for Borussia Dortmund to take his Champions League total to 18 goals in 13 appearances. That was one message, the other was a little understated: "I love the Champions League and when I saw Mbappé score the hat-trick yesterday I got free motivation, so thanks to him."

It's a rivalry which created headlines last year when Mbappé's Paris Saint-Germain knocked Haaland's Dortmund out of the elite club competition.

It's amazing that Dortmund secured Haaland for just 20 million euros in January 2020. His value must have increased ten-fold in thirteen months. The world is at his talented feet. He can choose any club that can afford to buy him although that is a miniscule list.

PSG wisely invested 180 million euros to pair Mbappé up with Neymar. He's paid it back with goals in the run to winning Ligue 1, French Cups and helped them reach the Champions League final. But can afford to buy him or show greater ambition than his home city club? Real Madrid supporters would adore him, but the truth is that the club's world standing is slipping.

I expect Mbappé to stay and Haaland to stick at Dortmund until the leading football sides balance their finances, which probably rules Barcelona out for a few years. So, if there is to be a repeat of the 'who is the greatest?' argument, à la Ronaldo and Messi, with Haaland and Mbappé it's unlikely the players will be in the colours of Real and Barça.