Kylian Mbappé is regarded by most football enthusiasts to be the most talented young player in the world. The 20-year-old wonderkid has enjoyed another successful season, as he bagged himself a third Ligue 1 title as well as improving on his goal tally from last season. Paris Saint-Germain have dominated Ligue 1 but have been overshadowed by the embarrassing exit they faced in the Champions League at the hands of Manchester United. The individual disappointment of their number seven was eye-opening. Kylian Mbappé was not satisfied to simply play in the most prestigious competition against one of the biggest teams in all of sport. He wanted to beat them and go on to win the tournament.
This deep hunger he has to improve and push the boundaries makes many football fans believe that he will get even better. How much better? That is what everyone is wondering. He is one of the best in the world and being so young, we do consider whether Mbappe could become the greatest ever.
From the little we have heard from Kylian Mbappé about his comparisons with the legends of the game, it is quite clear that he is far more focused on bettering himself. Maybe it is not in his nature to become the greatest of all time (GOAT). Whether that is the case or not, we all like having our say on where he may finish along the spectrum of the greats.
In order to understand what he has to accomplish and how much he must improve, we need to identify who he is competing with for the GOAT title. Every generation has seen sensational players that have written themselves in history. There will always be a generational player that probably should be given an honourable mention. Looking at some of the players that made a massive impact on the sport, we are hit with an influx of names that are known worldwide. Pele, Johan Cruyff, Diego Maradona, Eusebio, Puskas, Di Stefano, Franz Beckenbauer, Paolo Maldini, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo Nazário and Ronaldinho are legends that have engraved their names in the heads of all football fans.
However, there are two players that have arguably defied the odds: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo aren’t really legends…they’re gods. If you combined Maradona with Puskas, you get Messi. Take Pele and Ronaldinho, you get Cristiano Ronaldo. This is Mbappé’s competition. It doesn’t seem quite so possible to become the GOAT now, does it?
Of course, we will only be able to definitively know if Kylian Mbappé is in the same ilk in the twilight years of his career. What we can do now is see if he is on track to earning that illustrious status. It is safe to say that the Frenchman has hit the ground running. He has been a professional footballer for only three years and in that time, he has accumulated three Ligue 1 titles with two different teams and a World Cup winner with France. In comparison to Ronaldo and Messi in their youth, it would be fair to say that Mbappé has a head start.
It seems that Mbappé should be odds on to surpass the two football legends, but it doesn’t work in the same way. The reason Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi sit above the rest is due to their sustained performances and quality throughout their careers. The thought of seeing a 35-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo next season is mind-boggling. Their consistency in performances week-in-week-out for 15 years is why Kylian Mbappé still has a mountain to climb. The last years of his career are the key to his legacy.
Other than maintaining his level of performance, there is another goal he must achieve if he is to stand any chance against the two idols. He must win the Champions League. Mbappé may have had a dream World Cup, everyone is well aware that the wonderkid hasn’t gotten close to lifting the Champions League. If you hope to achieve more than the 4-time and 5-time winners of the tournament, you better start winning soon. Cristiano Ronaldo has made it his duty to dominate Europe for as long as possible by winning the competition as many times as he can. Time is on Mbappé’s side so he can still match the records set by Ronaldo. However, he may need to make some drastic changes in order to achieve that.
His success in France is not enough to warrant a place with the greats. He must conquer Europe. And with the recent eliminations, Paris Saint-Germain has faced in the Champions League, it is becoming clearer that Kylian Mbappé should consider leaving his current club. A side like Real Madrid would put him in a much better position to focus on the prestigious European trophy. Maybe a move to Juventus or Barcelona would fit him greatly too. That way the student could learn from the masters.
When it is all said and done, there is a lot that Kylian Mbappé needs to do. It might be too much, regardless of the obstacles that lay in front of him. He has already proved he can find his way past barriers. This great start of his cannot be seen as a negative, however, he must understand that it is not how you start that matters…it’s how you finish. If Kylian Mbappé cannot surpass Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, then nobody can.