Kylian Mbappe: Les Bleus Rising Star
Written by Lewis Redmond
There is a teenager currently taking Europe by storm. Step forward: 18-year-old Kylian Mbappé Lottin; the football world’s hottest new prodigy. The rise of AS Monaco’s teenage sensation; dubbed “the next Thierry Henry” by experts across the continent, has been sudden and has had a devastating impact on defences in French Ligue 1 and teams in the UEFA Champions League.
And still at the tender age of just 18, many believe the young Frenchman must have something about him in order for such comparisons to be drawn.
Well, the stats definitely do not lie. As of May 4th 2017, the young hitman has netted a staggering 24 goals in just 39 games so far this season, whilst also racking up 11 assists for the French outfit, with five of his Champions League goals coming in the first four games of the knockout proceedings. Now in the semi-finals of Europe’s most prestigious and elite club competition, it was Mbappé’s goals that inspired Monaco to a double-legged victory over German Borussia Dortmund in the quarters; the wonderkid’s brace helping to clinch the first leg 3-2 in the Westfalenstadion before he opened the scoring after just three minutes in the return leg to send Monaco on their way to the last four, the part he played in a 3-1 second leg triumph earning him the UEFA Champions League Player of the Week Award.
And with 16 goals in 16 games since the start of February, it is no wonder that Mbappé is being compared to the likes of Thierry Henry and Cristiano Ronaldo. Speaking on his French compatriot, the Arsenal legend light-heartedly told Canal Plus: “My word, he is good. Ooh la la, I really like watching him play.” This it would seem shows us that the forward already has the Henry seal of approval, and this was further boosted in March when he became the youngest French international for over 60 years, making his bow for the national side as a substitute against Luxembourg aged 18 years and 95 days, placing him only behind Maryan Wisniewski when he debuted against Sweden in 1955 aged 18 years and 61 days old. And Henry isn’t the only one that is heaping approval on the rising star. Monaco’s Croatian goalkeeper Danijel Subašic has also been singing Mbappé’s praises, telling 24 Sata: “No wonder everyone is crazy about him, he is amazing, plays great and is only 18,” adding “He runs like he’s riding a motorbike! He has no respect! Which is good, but at the same time in our locker room he is very calm and polite, (he) never pushes himself in the front row.”, showing just how grounded Mbappé seems keen on remaining, before finishing: “The guy is great, normal, not flying high. Everyone talks about hundreds of millions of euros that are waiting for him somewhere and still his mother or the club’s driver takes him to training every day!” No wonder he comes across so humble!
Such is the forward’s blistering form; he has also guided his club side to the very summit of the French Ligue 1. Outside favourites for the title at the beginning of the season behind reigning champions Paris Saint Germain, Monaco have scored an impressive 90 goals so far this campaign with eight games still left to play, leaving them top in front of PSG with a goal difference almost 20 to the good, and still with a game in hand over their Parisian rivals. This huge goal scoring record is no coincidence either, with Mbappé’s 12 goals in 12 league starts combining well with other strikers at the club such as Valère Germain and the illustrious Radamel Falcao to place Monaco as firm favourites for the title, with some saying a place in next season’s Champions League group stage is almost already guaranteed.
As well as the incredible goal scoring stats, the teenager has also broken multiple records already in his short but exciting playing career. By scoring in the last four Champions League matches as formerly mentioned, Mbappé set a new record of becoming the only player to score in the first four knockout games of the competition after goals against Dortmund added to goals in both legs of the last 16 tie against Manchester City, a record made even more commendable when considering we live in the era of players like Lionel Messi and Mbappé’s childhood hero, Cristiano Ronaldo. On top of this the young talent is the second youngest player to score in the quarter finals of the Champions League while only Spanish legend Raúl has managed to score more Champions League goals before his 19th birthday than Mbappé, again incredible when considering the youngster has five in his last four in the competition and still has the semi-finals and potentially the final of this year’s competition to play, before still having the chance to score more goals in next season’s group stages before he turns 19 on 20th December this year.
Many would say it appears Kylian Mbappé Lottin has his feet firmly on the ground but, with the goal scoring stats he has racked up and the deadly form and reputation he has established for himself, it is natural that he is attracting heavy attention from some of Europe’s biggest clubs. Both halves of Manchester are said to be keeping tabs on him, while Barcelona and Real Madrid are also set to engage in a mass bidding war for the teen once the Summer transfer window opens; the latter’s captain, Sergio Ramos already doing his bit by telling Sky Sports that the Real Madrid gates are very much open for the youngster. It is almost impossible to decipher the next stage of Mbappé’s career. Will his eyes light up as he chases a lucrative big-money move? Or will he contradict us all and stay loyal to the club which will always be linked to the explosive start of his career?
One thing is for sure, he is a player with the world at his feet and, if what we have seen from him this season is anything to go by, he could be destined for a career at the very top level of club and international football.