Without a doubt, one of the biggest stars set to feature in Euro 2020 was Kylian Mbappe. The Paris Saint-Germain forward is easily one of the best and most exciting players in the world at the moment.
Mbappe’s rise to the top has been nothing short of meteoric. Just five years ago, he was just a precocious 16-year-old prospect from Paris. But even then, the talent was there for all to see.
Nonetheless, it has been remarkable to see just how much Mbappe has grown as a player a short amount of time.
Allow SBOTOP to take a look back at the staggering evolution of Mbappe, from a promising teenager into one of the brightest stars in the world.
The record-breaking phenom
Mbappe’s football career began in AS Bondy, a small club in his hometown of Paris, where he was coached by his father, Wilfried. But even as a young child, it was clear that he was special. He was advanced beyond his years, which was why he played with older age groups.
Mbappe and his undeniable talents eventually moved to Clairefontaine, France’s fabled youth development academy, which has produced numerous world-class players. There he garnered interest from some of the biggest clubs in the world.
But instead of jumping headlong into deep waters, Mbappe made (in hindsight) the wise decision of staying in France and joining the Monaco youth team.
It was a path the great Thierry Henry also took in his youth. And the comparisons with the Arsenal legend were inevitable as Mbappe proceeded to break Henry’s Monaco records.
On December 2, 2015, he made his debut for the first team at just 16 years and 347 days to top Henry’s record. It then took Mbappe a couple of months to break another of Henry’s record of being the club’s youngest-ever goalscorer at 17 years and 62 days.
That proved to be the only goal Mbappe would score in 14 appearances during his debut season in the French top flight. Not bad for a 17-year-old. However, it would hardly prepare anyone for what was to come next season.
The surprise package and Ligue 1 winner
PSG have dominated French football since QSI’s arrival at the club. With seemingly unlimited funds, they’d go on to win four league titles in a row from 2012-16. Mbappe’s Monaco were still competitive, finishing second in 2014 and third in both 2015 and 2016.
But in the 2016-17 season, it all came together for the side from the Principality. They had assembled a talented squad with just the right mix of youth (Mpabbe, Fabinho, Thomas Lemar, Benjamin Mendy, Bernardo Silva) and experience (Radamel Falco, Joao Moutinho, Kamil Glik).
By that point, Falcao had established himself as one of the premier marksmen in Europe. But even he alone couldn’t deliver the title to the Principality. Luckily, he didn’t have to do it on his own as an 18-year-old Kylian Mbappe broke out and scored 15 league goals in 29 appearances to help Monaco to an improbable championship.
His impact went beyond merely scoring goals, though. The threat of his uncanny speed on the wings and his overall versatility opened up so many things for that Monaco attack.
And as if winning the league over the PSG juggernaut wasn’t enough, Mbappe also made his mark in Europe. He scored six goals in Monaco’s improbable run to the semi-finals of the Champions League, two of which came in their memorable 6-6 quarter-final duel with Manchester City.
While he still looked all of 18 physically, Mbappe showcased the skill and maturity well beyond his years. His searing pace is the first thing that stands out, but the longer you watch him, the more you come to realise how advanced the rest of his game already was at such a young age. Even the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi didn’t look quite as polished at this early stage in their careers.
The World Cup champion and so much more
After that dream season, it was only a matter of time before Mbappe made the move to a top club, and he did just that in 2017 as he went to PSG. Despite the arrival of another superstar in Neymar, Mbappe made his mark right away.
However, there were much bigger things in store for Mbappe in the summer as he led France to World Cup glory in Russia. He scored four goals in the tournament, including the fourth and final goal in the final against Croatia as he became the second teenager after Pele to score in a World Cup final. At that point, he was well and truly a superstar.
But the scary part was that at just 19, he was far from the finished product. He still had much room for improvement in terms of his goalscoring, and improve he did.
The following season, he exploded for 39 goals in 43 games. And prior to the postponement of the European leagues, he had already topped 30 goals in 33 appearances in 2019-20.
Kylian Mbappe has come a long way in just five short years. From a 16-year-old with unlimited potential, he has tapped into that immense ability to win multiple Ligue 1 titles, the World Cup.
France are among the top contenders according to the Euro 2020 news in large part due to him, and there’s no doubt he’d create a number of Euro 2020 highlights if the tournament does push through.
At just 21 years of age, Mbappe is far from done. There are still several more stages to his evolution as a football player — possibly one of the greatest of all-time, when it’s all said and done.
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