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Is Neymar a disturbing influence for Kylian Mbappe at PSG?

Neymar (left) and Kylian Mbappe have been influential figures at PSG.
Neymar (left) and Kylian Mbappe have been influential figures at PSG.
Raj Das
ANALYST
Modified 28 Jul 2020, 15:10 IST
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Kylian Mbappe hobbled off the pitch in PSG's French Cup final against St. Etienne due to a challenge from defender Loic Perrin.

Although PSG eventually ran out victorious courtesy a 14th minute strike from Neymar, it was the ankle injury to the 21-year-old Frenchman that would be cause for concern for PSG. 

At 17 years and 62 days, Kylian Mbappe became the youngest player since a certain Thierry Henry to score for AS Monaco .

Kylian Mbappe emerged during his days at Monaco.
Kylian Mbappe emerged during his days at Monaco.

Since his move to PSG in 2017 on loan from AS Monaco, Kylian Mbappe has been a hot fan favourite.

His spectacular performances in the 2018 FIFA World Cup have only endeared him further to the fans. Mbappe became the first teenager since the great Pele himself to score twice in a World Cup final. 

Mbappe also became the joint second highest goal-scorer at the quadrennial tournament with four goals, two of which came in the Round of 16 against Lionel Messi’s Argentina. It was a match in which Mbappe stole much of the limelight off the Argentinian great, in the process raising his footballing stock.

Kylian Mbappe (right) had a spectacular 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Kylian Mbappe (right) had a spectacular 2018 FIFA World Cup.

It was a game that truly announced Kylian Mbappe’s arrival on the big stage to the rest of the world.

His pace was too hot for the Argentinian defenders to handle as France earned a penalty early in the game. Despite some show of resilience from the South Americans, it was Kylian Mbappe's goal again that put the eventual champions ahead.

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Kylian Mbappe's evolution at PSG

Mbappe shone during his loan spell at PSG.
Mbappe shone during his loan spell at PSG.

In his first season as a loanee at PSG, Kylian Mbappe scored 13 goals from 27 appearances, a significant contribution when we consider that he was just eighteen years old then.

His move was made permanent in 2018 after he played an integral role in France’s World Cup-winning campaign. Kylian Mbappe's performances for club and country convinced PSG President Nasser al-Khelaifi that he made the right investment.

Since then, Kylian Mbappe has notched up an astonishing 51 goals in 49 appearances for PSG in all competitions.

In the 2019-20 Ligue 1 season, which ended prematurely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Kylian Mbappe was in red hot form, scoring 18 goals in 17 appearances while also providing five assists.

Kylian Mbappe is perhaps one of the few players in the world to have a consistent record of scoring more goals than appearances he has made. Only Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid (438 goals in 450 games) boasts such other-worldly numbers.

Neymar and Kylian Mbappe: an interesting relationship

Neymar arrived at PSG in a world record transfer deal in the summer of 2017.
Neymar arrived at PSG in a world record transfer deal in the summer of 2017.

Neymar’s €222 million move from Barcelona to PSG became the theme of the 2017-18 season in world football. It was an unprecedented move for any club to pay so much money for one player, but that is exactly what PSG owner Nasser al-Khelaifi did.

The plan was to create a lethal attacking trident in PSG, emulating the formula that Barcelona adopted with such success. Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and club veteran Edinson Cavani were tasked with that responsibility.

It is interesting that ever since he came to PSG, Neymar has been a constant source of nuisance for the club.

His almost daily tantrums, hefty wage-gap between other players in the squad and his seemingly 'special' treatment has left a bitter taste in the mouth for many PSG fans and experts.

Some critics believe that Neymar is having a negative influence on the young Kylian Mbappe. Here they are at a party.
Some critics believe that Neymar is having a negative influence on the young Kylian Mbappe. Here they are at a party.

Former French World Cup winner and Chelsea player Frank Lebouf does not consider Neymar to be an ideal role model for the young Kylian Mbappe, having made his contention public on numerous occasions.

When Neymar was brought into PSG, he was supposed to be the undisputed star in the team. The Brazilian was expected to have the prominence enjoyed by Messi at Barcelona and Ronaldo at Real Madrid.

However, that hasn't happened and Neymar’s has been usurped by Kylia Nbappe at PSG. The 21-year-old Frenchman is the future of PSG, or indeed for any club that may buy him in the future.   

Affections have shifted at the Parc des Princes. It is no longer Neymar, but Kylian Mbappe who is adored by the PSG faithful.

PSG fans seem to love Kylian Mbappe more than Neymar
PSG fans seem to love Kylian Mbappe more than Neymar

While Neymar has the outlook of a spoilt, overindulged diva, Kylian Mbappe is humble and motivated to improve himself, characteristics that would go a long way in how their respective stints at PSG will be remembered.

However, on the pitch, the two individuals seem to share a good relationship. Neymar is almost like the elder brother to Kylian Mbappe.

After the ankle injury suffered by Mbappe against St. Etienne, the Brazilian took to Instagram to wish the 21-year-old a speedy recovery, addressing Mbappe as ‘My bro’.

Kylian Mbappe is a sensational player, and he will be sorely missed by PSG in their Coupe de la Ligue final against Lyon on 31st July. But in the Frenchman's absence, Neymar has shown that he is capable of stepping up to the plate.

Mbappe will also be missed against Atalanta in PSG's first leg of the Champions League quarter final, a match that could be anything but straightforward. But the French club do seem to have enough ammunition to overwhelm the competition debutants.

In Kylian Mbappe's absence, PSG will look to Neymar for goals and inspiration upfront. It, however, remains to be seen if the Frenchman will play any further part in the competition if PSG get past their Serie A rivals.

Published 28 Jul 2020, 02:25 IST
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