6 months after France won the World Cup in 1998, a baby was born in the North East of Paris. The images of Zidane and Thierry Henry lifting that Gold trophy above their heads after beating Brazil in the final will not seem too distant in the mind to many. But in the time since, that boy has grown up and developed into one of the most exciting talents in world football.
Kylian Mbappé is still just 18 years old, but when PSG exercise their ‘option to buy’ clause next summer, he will become the second most expensive footballer in history. He burst onto the big stage last season, becoming the youngest player to score more than 10 goals in Ligue 1 for 30 years. His debut came the season before, where he became Monaco’s youngest ever player at 16 years and 247 days, beating Thierry Henry’s record set 21 years earlier. A few months later he took another record from Henry when he became the youngest player to ever score for Monaco.
He has been compared to Thierry Henry by many fans and pundits, and it is clear to see why. Both were born in the outskirts of Paris, both are very quick, right-footed and excellent finishers.
At such a young age he is already scaring defences and scoring against the best teams in the World. And you even have to ask yourself if you would have Mbappe at 18 over Messi or Ronaldo at 18? The latter two are arguably the greatest pair of footballers the world has seen, but neither hit their full stride until their early 20’s. Mbappe already looks like the real deal as a teenager. So how good can this boy get?
When Messi and Ronaldo’s careers start to slow down, most would predict the battle for the Ballon d’Or will be won by Neymar. But Mbappe could come through and take that crown in no time at all if he keeps progressing. Now teammates, Mbappe will be able to learn a lot from Neymar and Cavani, and the trio are surely the most frightening attacking force in the world of football right now.
PSG are the bookies’ second favourites to win the Champions League after Real Madrid, and they’ve already scored 27 goals in their opening 8 games of the French season. I think this year every neutral wants PSG to draw Barcelona in the knockout stages to add to the drama of last year’s crazy comeback and the Neymar transfer. Neymar will have a point to prove but so will Barca, and seeing these two meet again would be a dream for any fan that loves the beautiful game.
It’s clear that Mbappe has the talent, and if he continues to show the same level of desire, motivation and commitment then he could become the greatest player of his generation. His whole career is in front of him and I hope he continues to dazzle defenders and entertain us fans for years to come. When you’re that young and don’t fear any opponent or occasion you will always be my favorite to watch.