Is Mbappe, the next big “thing” after Ronaldo and Messi?
For quite some time, it really has been hugely “blasphemous” to pick out a footballer in the current age, who is or could go on to be as good as the two prime GOATs(Greatest Of All Time), Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. But as of now, you can almost get away by throwing Kylian Mbappe’s name in that bracket or at least as one for the future.
The world at his feet
The 20-year-old set the world ablaze at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia as he played a pivotal role in helping France win the world title. In a match that pitted him and the Argentine magician as the opposite number, the Frenchman of Cameroonian descent came out on top. We all knew it was going to be a long night for Messi and company as Mbappe slid through the South Americans at top speed from one end to another, leaving Marcos Rojo with no choice but to foul the then teenager inside the penalty area for the first goal of the contest. The match would then finish 4-3 in favor of Les Blues with young Kylian getting two of France’s goals and finishing off the match as the better number 10, ahead of Messi. As the tournament came to a close, Mbappe would then lift up the World Cup gold as a teenager, the one trophy which is still out of reach for the two GOATs in Ronaldo and Messi. Even more, Kylian became the first teenager since Pele to score in a world cup final. Of course the naysayers would say, “it’s only because the PSG forward has highly gifted players” to compliment him in the French squad, which could be true but having a teenage winger scoring 4 goals in the world cup finals is no average player’s feat.
Still going on strong
At Monaco, some said he had it easy scoring 15 goals and serving up 8 assists in 17 starts as Leonardo Jardim’s men claimed the 2016/17 French Ligue 1 title. We didn’t hear their voices out loud when that teenager bagged 6 goals in his UEFA Champions league debut season in the same campaign. Again at the world cup, “ it’s only because France’s that good,” they would say and we were not too surprised as they withdrew praise when he stood on that podium with the world cup gold in his palms and the Golden Boy Award to accompany it. Now, 20 games into the French Ligue 1 season, PSG remains unbeaten and Mbappe is topping the scoring charts, again from a wide position not as an outright striker. The former Monaco forward has 18 goals and 6 assists to his name in nothing but only 12 league starts. Only Messi has scored more among Europe’s top five leagues with 19 goals in 17 La Liga starts. He also has 4 assists and 3 goals in the champions league as he seeks to increase that tally when the Parisians take on Manchester United.
Where to from here?
It’s still one of the popular arguments surrounding the world cup winner’s potential and success, that same old song of “he has had it easy playing in an uncompetitive league or with great players surrounding him.” One thing is sure though, he seems to be the only one to have played under such circumstances and managed to pull up numbers previously associated with only Messi and Ronaldo. He might have had it easy as they say and could continue doing so as he climbs up that ladder. Maybe, just maybe he is too good to have it “easy” all the way?