For years now, the same question has been circulating in the football circles as to who will take up the place of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in world football? The recent UEFA Champions League games may have given us the answer as golden boys, Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe seem destined for greatness in their respective careers.
Football has been blessed to have some greats who have graced the game for years. First, it was the Pele and Maradona era and now we’re in the twilight years of the Messi and Ronaldo era. It is always difficult to compare eras in any sport but Haaland and Mbappe feel like the chosen ones to take the sport to new heights.
These players mentioned above are once in a generation talent and to say that Haaland and Mbappe will end up as great as them is a bit premature at this moment but the signs are all positive. Haaland and Mbappe’s rise hasn’t been overnight. They have been enhancing their skills over the past couple of years and with the goalscoring records the duo is achieving, it seems that it’s time for Messi and Ronaldo to pass the baton to more than capable deputies.
If we take a look at the stats of the two players then you’d realise that both these forwards are achieving numbers that seem ridiculous from the outside. Since January 2020, Erling Haaland has scored 41 goals in 42 UEFA Champions League games for Borussia Dortmund which comes down to 67.9 minutes per goal involvement.
Similarly, Kylian Mbappe has 30 goals in 44 Champions League games for Paris Saint Germain and gets involved in a goal every 77.4 minutes. On comparing them to Messi and Ronaldo, since the start of last season in the Champions League, the combined goals of Messi and Ronaldo are 15. Whereas Haaland and Mbappe have contributed to 28 goals at the same time.
Both Haaland and Mbappe are just 20 and 22 years old, respectively. The frightening thing is that they can only get better from here given the kind of teams they play for and the quality of managers around them. The peak of the two forwards is in front of them and they just need to keep their heads down, work hard in training and keep popping the goals regularly. If this is achieved, then we could be witnessing a rivalry that could go on to dominate world football for the next decade or so.
Like Ronaldo and Messi, these two will also push each other to the absolute limits as we’ve already seen in the Champions League. In fact, Erling Haaland already came out and said that watching Kylian Mbappe score a hat-trick against FC Barcelona a night before his match against Sevilla gave him extra motivation to go out there and get goals in his own match. That seems like a page from the Ronaldo textbook, doesn’t it? We just hope that the standards of these two players only go higher from here and if that happens, all football fans across the globe would be witnessing something extremely special.
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