The Mbappe Contract Saga: Burning Bridges and Strategic Negotiations

July 12, 2023
posted in
written by Tobias Riehm

The contractual situation between Kylian Mbappe and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) has become a captivating story that intertwines elements of game theory and strategic decision-making.

Mbappe’s contract with PSG is set to expire in 2024, and he has expressed his desire not to extend it, hoping to leave as a free agent. This poses a challenge for PSG, who want to secure a transfer fee for the talented player. As negotiations unfold, both parties find themselves strategising to achieve their respective objectives. Mbappe aims to maximise his future earnings, while PSG seek to protect their financial interests and team strength. In this article, we delve into the concept of burning bridges and its relevance to the Mbappe contract saga, drawing parallels with a war scenario to understand the strategic dynamics at play.

The Burning Bridges Game

The burning bridges game is a concept derived from game theory that explores strategic decision-making in competitive scenarios. Its name originates from a war context, where the act of burning down a bridge symbolises a commitment to fight back if attacked, ultimately dissuading the enemy from initiating aggression. In the context of negotiations, burning bridges refers to creating a credible commitment that influences the decision-making process of the parties involved.

Strategic Considerations and Non-Credible threat

In the ongoing contract negotiations between PSG and Mbappe, both parties have distinct objectives. Mbappe is reluctant to extend his contract and aims to leave as a free agent in 2024, which presents a challenging scenario for PSG as they would miss out on receiving a transfer fee. At first glance, PSG hold a powerful lever that could significantly impact Mbappe’s market value and future earnings – they have the ability to prevent him from playing for an entire season. However, this threat is currently deemed non-credible. The club is aware that implementing such a measure would have a detrimental impact on their own interests, considering Mbappe’s exceptional performance on the field and his substantial earnings. Therefore, PSG face the challenge of finding a solution that makes their non-credible threat a credible and viable option in the negotiation process.

Creating a Credible Commitment

Given the non-credibility of the threat to not let Mbappe play, PSG must find a commitment device that effectively changes the dynamics of the negotiation. One potential commitment device could involve PSG making a contract with a third party in which they agree to pay a substantial amount if Mbappe participates in even a single game for the club in the upcoming season. This contingent contract acts as a financial penalty or deterrent, reinforcing PSG’s commitment to not let Mbappe play and increases the pressure on him to reconsider his decision to stay.

Influencing Decision-Making

By involving a third party in the form of a contingent contract, PSG add an additional layer of credibility to their commitment. The financial consequences of breaching the contract would be significant, providing a strong incentive for PSG to uphold their promise. This commitment device intensifies the pressure on Mbappe to seriously consider a transfer offer this year, as PSG demonstrate their unwavering determination through the credible deterrent of the contingent contract.


The Mbappe contract saga offers a captivating illustration of strategic negotiations and the utilisation of commitment devices inspired by the burning bridges game. PSG’s implementation of a contingent contract with a third party serves as a credible deterrent, signalling their unwavering commitment to not let Mbappe play and influencing his decision-making process. As the story unfolds, it highlights the intricate dynamics of contract negotiations and the strategic manoeuvres employed to shape outcomes. The burning bridges concept reminds us of the importance of credible commitments in navigating competitive scenarios and achieving desired results.