Kylian Mbappe (£16.53) might only have turned 20 in December, but already the Paris Saint-Germain star has achieved more in his brief career than most can dream of.
He has started his professional life at an incredible lick, scoring 77 times in 136 club games and notching a further 45 assists on top of that figure. Furthermore, he is already a two-time French champion and became the first teenager since Pele in 1958 to score in a World Cup final as he played a starring role as France claimed glory at Russia 2018.
Blessed with remarkable physical attributes and already a remarkably talented technician, the sky seems the limit for him – and it seems his early success is simply fueling his desire to achieve more.
The maturity and ambition that the Bondy-born forward shows was typified to his response to PSG’s 2-0 victory over Manchester United three weeks ago.
After winning the title with Monaco as a 17-year-old, when he shunned a night partying and instead went home to bed, ready to train again the next day and that spirit to always improve was in evidence at Old Trafford.
Rather than revel in what had been a fine team display and a thoroughly deserved win, he was left frustrated that the Champions League tie was not pushed out of sight with the addition of a third or even fourth goal.
“It wasn’t perfect but it was good,” he told RMC after the 2-0 victory – a first-leg margin earned by an away team that has been turned around only four times in 377 matches in European competition since 1980-81.
PSG’s victory was all the more impressive given that it was achieved without Neymar and Edinson Cavani – two-thirds of their first-choice attacking strength.
Although those players will miss Wednesday’s return match at Parc des Princes, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United side will be handicapped by a raft of fresh issues, as well as a suspension for Paul Pogba (£21.85).
That first leg was billed as a true test of Mbappe’s growth as he was tasked with playing an unfamiliar role at centre-forward and carrying the aspirations of his side.
His answer to that test was emphatically given as he showed outrageous pace to latch onto an Angel Di Maria cross and slide PSG two clear, underlining the dominance of his team on the night and the potential he has to inherit the crown of Cristiano Ronaldo (£7.28) and Lionel Messi (£15.53) as the game’s outstanding superstar.
Just look at him go, Kylian Mbappe ladies and gentleman 🚀
— Football Index (@FootballIndexUK) February 12, 2019
“He’s decisive every three days, he’s an extraordinary player,” head coach Thomas Tuchel said after watching the forward net twice in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Caen, where he once again carried his team.
Indeed, given his form, it is perhaps no coincidence that Neymar (£21.73) has this week started to postulate over a future move to Real Madrid.
He made his leap to PSG from Barcelona with the promise of being the leader of the team, and while he remains their figurehead, he is increasingly being challenged by the local upstart.
Should the Parisians fend off the Red Devils and go on to win the Champions League, as much of the discussion over their success would revolve around the Frenchman as it would Neymar – and that is not what he signed up for when he made his €222 million switch from Camp Nou.
Personal glory was a big reason for the 27-year-old to move to France, but his dreams of the Ballon d’Or remain as elusive as ever. Pushed into the shadow of Lionel Messi in Spain, the prospect of being likewise sidelined by Mbappe in France is a looming one.
With 24 goals through 26 Ligue 1 fixtures, the domestic press are already pondering whether Mbappe can chase down Josip Skoblar’s all-time record of 44 in a single season, which was set back in the 1970-71 season for Marseille.
It seems a distant prospect, but nothing, it appears, is beyond the young Frenchman.