Kylian Mbappe is 19 years of age. He’s talented and a relatively new footballing sensation. Despite the condescending online appraisals he was receiving for his performance yesterday, it shouldn’t be taken out of context.
It seems the young Frenchman can only play in three competitions to be taken seriously – the Premier League, the Champions League or the World Cup. No other competition in world football could maintain the lofty standards of those three. Everything Mbappe’s accomplished outside of these is taken for granted it would seem.
Mbappe made his Ligue 1 debut when he was 17, against Caen. He has played 68 times – just 44 of those being starts – and has scored 29 times and delivered 16 assists. He can’t legally drink alcohol in the United States for another 18 months.
His age matters as it truly does magnify just how good he is at this point in his career, but it doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be this good. His brace against an out-of-sorts Argentina hasn’t all of sudden turned him into one of the best young prospects in the world – he’s the second-most expensive player in the history of the sport already!
We’re not too sure how that’s slipped the minds of people tuning in to see this so-called wonderkid in his apparent first-ever game of football.
It must be because the money that PSG spend on players isn’t real, or maybe it’s because the highlights show he appears on isn’t presented by Gary Lineker.
While Liverpool fans salivate over the thought of having recently-relegated Xherdan Shaqiri in their squad, and Manchester United supporters celebrate Marcus Rashford bagging a couple of goals, Kylian Mbappe has contributed to 45 goals in just 44 starts in the top-tier of French football and he’s barely buying his own trousers.
The way the football world views young footballers is unusual. If they don’t produce, they’re seemingly written off in England. Yet if a player who produces in almost every game he plays does it in a different country, they’re just playing in a rubbish league. English football fans’ perceptions of their own league are warped.
Usually the last thing to come to young players is occasion management. You can always tell the special ones when they step up in huge situations. See Wayne Rooney on his Manchester United debut for example. He walked into Old Trafford and bagged a hat-trick – no bother to him.
Mbappe took apart an Argentina side that contained the greatest player to ever play the sport. He doesn’t need your thinly-veiled approval, nor your over-the-top faux admiration. Even if he hadn’t done it beforehand, people would jump on this one performance and claim he was the next Maradona – the brilliant footballer rather than the addled buffoon who hangs over VIP areas to taunt opposition fans.
Any player who is sold for £166m deserves to be respected and have the same expectations as players who’ve done it in more prominent leagues. Despite the howls from the usual suspects in TV studios, this kid has actually played football before and is better than any up-and-coming Premier League-assisted Englishman.
Time to do some research, gents.