Kylian Mbappe

Club: Paris Saint-Germain

Country: France

Don’t blame us if you’re bored by yet more talk of Kylian Mbappe. With the 2020-21 season on the horizon, the 21-year-old simply has to be the most valuable player in world football.

Indeed, research group the CIES Football Observatory currently values him between €200-€250m, and it is easy to see why.

Neymar of Paris Saint-Germain celebrates after scoring his team’s second goal with Kylian Mbappe of Paris Saint-Germain during the UEFA Champions League Group C match between Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool at Parc des Princes on November 28, 2018 in Paris, France. 

With Neymar out injured for most of the curtailed 2019-20 season, it was down to Mbappe, above all others, to shoulder the burden of Paris Saint-Germain’s attacking hopes. The fact that he delivered 18 Ligue 1 goals in just 21 appearances is testament not only to the youngster’s dazzling ability, but also to a maturity and consistency of performance that belies his tender years.

Mbappe’s profile has been so high for so long already, and the media scrutiny so intense, that there are no real surprises in his game any more. The question is, though, how do you stop him being so devastating?

The old adage runs that in professional sport the single most dangerous attribute a player can have is genuine pace. Mbappe has that in spades, but he also has a cool head in pressure situations, allowing him to almost always pick the right option in front of goal. The boy from the Parisian suburbs has been lucky to be aligned with Angel Di Maria, who headed the assists table with 14 in 26 games. But then again, Mbappe chipped in with seven assists of his own to show that he’s an inspired creator as well as a clinical finisher.

With a staggering four Ligue 1 medals to his name already – including one at Monaco – not to mention the small matter of that World Cup final win against Croatia in 2018 where he inevitably scored, Mbappe already has a full trophy cabinet.

Kylian Mbappe of France celebrates with the World Cup trophy following the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final between France and Croatia at Luzhniki Stadium on July 15, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. 

His motivation seems high, nonetheless, and PSG are still in with a shout of winning this season’s Champions League in August. If they do get their hands on the trophy, will that make the task of convincing their brightest star to stay that much harder? What, after all, will he have left to achieve in his home country?

A COVID-affected transfer window may not be the ideal time for such a valuable player to move, but if he did depart, Mbappe would not be short of suitors. Real Madrid have been close in the past, where a union with Zinedine Zidane would appeal, as would an on-pitch partnership with Cristiano Ronaldo at Juventus, or even Lionel Messi at Barcelona.

Whether those clubs have the finances to compete with the Premier League, however, would be in doubt. The Manchester clubs and Chelsea would surely be interested, while it has often been suggested that Liverpool could trade in one of their famed front three in order to sign Mbappe.

Whatever decision he makes, it is sure to be the right one – just as it so often is when he bears down on goal.

Article by Howard Johnson