Kylian Mbappe suffered World Cup heartbreak on Sunday - four years after putting himself in the history books as he lifted his first trophy at only 19 years old. Despite a brilliant tournament in Qatar from the Frenchman, Mbappe was unable to become the villain in what proved to be a fairytale story for Lionel Messi.
Mbappe was five months from his 20th birthday when he netted France’s fourth goal in a thrilling 4-2 finale against Croatia in 2018, making history to become only the second teenager to score in a World Cup final, while also claiming the Best Young Player award after scoring four goals in Russia.
The Paris Saint-Germain forward was unable to lift his second World Cup trophy days before his 24th birthday, however he has certainly proven himself as one of the world’s best with another spectacular tournament. Mbappe was forced to reluctantly collect his Golden Boot award prior to Argentina’s trophy lift and was undeniably frustrated at seeing his PSG teammate Messi in tears of joy while he sulked with his fellow countrymen.
However the 23-year-old will know for sure that this won’t be his last chance to add to his World Cup trophy tally on the world’s biggest stage.
In terms of stardom, Mbappe is France’s version of Lionel Messi - however he is doing it all at 12 years his junior. The former Monaco striker is the sixth top goalscorer in World Cup history with 12 goals, surrounded by the likes of Ronaldo, Pele and Gerd Muller. Mbappe is the only current player in the top ten and what is almost frightening is that he is likely to have another three World Cups - that could see him comfortably net the five goals needed to overtake Miroslav Klose and earn his place comfortably atop the golden podium, well above some of history’s greats.
In fact, while Messi’s World Cup victory has practically confirmed his debated title as the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time), the Argentine’s 13 goals has put him only one above Mbappe, and he’s played a staggering 12 games more to hit that tally. The Frenchman will undoubtedly be held in conversation amongst the likes of Messi and Ronaldo over the next ten years or so, but his current stats suggest his impact on world football could see him match, or perhaps even surpass the iconic duo.
What makes Mbappe’s future with France even more exciting is the players around him. Messi has worked absolute wonders with Argentina but has often been surrounded by players of a much lower quality than himself. The Barcelona icon was part of a struggling Argentina squad that suffered a 3-0 loss to Croatia during the 2018 World Cup - playing alongside the likes of Independiente winger Maximiliano Meza and Manchester United flop Marcos Rojo. Meanwhile, Mbappe’s teammates are an embarrassment of riches, awash with Europe’s biggest talents - some even younger than Mbappe, who will become some of the world’s best players in their own right. While the PSG forward could individually catapult France into years of success, it will be the likes of Aurelien Tchouameni, Ibrahima Konate and Eduardo Camavinga helping him reach his ambitions and continue to compete for more World Cup trophies.
Mbappe has begun his career in the shadow of Messi and Ronaldo, while players such as Sergio Aguero, Neymar and Zlatan Ibrahimovic have also remained names on many fans’ lips - however as we stand on the brink of a new era of football, it’s hard to see anyone challenge Mbappe as the future’s very best - especially in international football.
The 23-year-old’s main competition stands at 6 ft 5 and plays for Manchester City - though he’s yet to feature at a World Cup. Norway’s Erling Haaland - born in Leeds, what an opportunity lost for England - will undoubtedly be the man joining Mbappe in the new ‘GOAT’ argument for years to come, but he’s highliy unlikely to ever challenge for major honours with his country. The national team hasn’t reached the World Cup finals since 1998, while it has been 22 years since they even made an appearance at the Euros tournament. It will certainly be a huge task for Haaland to drag his country into a major tournament during his career.
While the likes of Vinicius Jr, Jude Bellingham and Jamal Musiala are clear contenders for a place on Mbappe’s future throne, it’s hard to see the Frenchman ever slowing down and with 36 international goals to his name - 16 less than France’s top scorer Olivier Giroud - it seems even less likely that anyone will be able to claim his spot at the top of the goalscoring charts anytime soon.