When a report from France over the weekend, which reverberated around the globe let alone in Spain’s capital, concluded Kylian Mbappe had decided to join Real Madrid, there was only one camp who did not offer a reaction.
Paris Saint-Germain briefed journalists they have not been informed of such a development – even though it is the eventuality expected.
That is critical because Mbappe has been clear that club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi would be the first to know of his choice. Florentino Perez, head honcho of Real, offered a “how original” when the infamous Spanish show El Chiringuito quizzed him about the story.
There was silence from Team Mbappe, which is no surprise if you understand who they are and how they operate. Last summer, when PSG’s star player and poster boy was involved in an ugly standoff with his employers, they did not get involved in a slinging match.
The French giants were allowed to control the narrative over the situation, which included the suggestion that by leaving as a free agent, Mbappe would cripple the club financially, putting them in the position where they would need to sell off some of his team-mates.
No matter how much the forward was painted as indulged or self-serving, his camp kept their own counsel.
So who exactly are Team Mbappe, the tiny inner circle who help sketch the career of one of the world’s best talents?
Kylian Mbappe, the star
While senior officials at Real Madrid call his mother ‘La jefa’ – the boss – she maintains she works for her son and that “he is in charge.” The 25-year-old takes direction and advice from his brains trust, but all sources are aligned in saying nothing happens without his approval.
In fact, when PSG had banished the French captain to the “loft” – the squad without a first-team future – he took it upon himself to remedy the situation. Kylian held direct talks with Al-Khelaifi without assistance from his entourage.
Former coaches say that even before he was a teenager, the attacker was taking control of his destiny by diligently doing Spanish and English lessons at school, even holding mock press conferences to practice being a professional footballer.
Fayza Lamari, the mother
Mbappe’s mother is a former handball player and exacting negotiator. She is viewed as the most significant member of the team and, as one former Premier League sporting director already called her five years ago, “the one you need to get onside” to have any shot of signing Mbappe. She handles negotiations, image rights and all the formalities of a deal along with the family lawyer.
Delphinie Verheyden, the lawyer
The lawyer, hired in 2015 after Lamari had interviewed five other legal experts with more experience in the football industry. Verheyden stood out because she was not interested in commission nor a big cut of contracts: she would simply charge Team Mbappe her usual hourly rate. Verheyden also represents some of France’s great Olympians, and along with his mother, wanted Kylian to move to Real in the summer of 2022.
Wilfried Mbappe, the father
Kylian’s dad, who separated from his mum in 2021. Initially plotted his footballing direction as the coach of Bondy’s U15s. Wilfried is described as the “soother” to maintain relationships given the uncompromising nature of Lamari and Verheyden’s approach. The contrasting personalities of Mbappe’s parents and their difference in strategy has helped secure rare concessions from Monaco, PSG and Real.
Ethan Mbappe, the younger brother
Kylian’s younger brother, who joined PSG’s academy in the same year he moved to the club. Now 17, Ethan made his senior professional debut as a substitute during the victory over Metz in December.
Jires Kembo Ekoko, the older brother
Kylian’s older, adopted brother. He is a retired professional footballer who also began his career at AS Bondy.
Agence Patricia Goldman, the image consultants
An independent communications consulting agency, specialising in image strategy and media relations, advises some of the biggest companies in the world like Coca-Cola… Mbappe is unique in their portfolio of mega corporations.