Teenage kicks - Kylian Mbappe's rapid rise
Kylian Mbappe has joined Paris Saint-Germain in a deal that is set to make him the second most expensive player in history.
A year ago, the teenager was battling for a regular place in Monaco's starting line-up but he will now join Brazil superstar Neymar in a forward line at Parc des Princes that is the envy of world football.
Here, we take a look at the rapid rise of a phenomenal talent who, at 18, has thrilled Europe, won a major title and earned international recognition in double-quick time.
Scrubbing Henry from the record books
Mbappe's rapid pace, smooth technique and clinical eye for goal have drawn numerous comparisons to Thierry Henry. The Arsenal and France great also cut his teeth at Monaco and stood as the Ligue 1 club's youngest player and goalscorer until Mbappe came on the scene. He became Les Monegasques' most fresh-faced debutant when he replaced Fabio Coentrao against Caen on December 2, 2015 at 16 years and 347 days. Two months later, he swept home in stoppage time to seal a 3-1 win over Troyes and claim another Henry record.
13 - Mbappe is the youngest player to score 13 goals in Ligue 1 for 30 years (18 yo & 3 m), ahead of…Thierry Henry (19 yo & 3 m). Pupil. pic.twitter.com/4lhEcBjtNZ— OptaJean (@OptaJean) March 19, 2017
Despite bursts of obvious promise, Mbappe remained a bit-part player for the remainder of 2016 as a revitalised Radamel Falcao and the wily Valere Germain led Monaco's unlikely assault on the Ligue 1 title. The youngster had three goals in 12 appearances before being named in the starting XI to face Rennes in the Coupe de la Ligue. Mbappe glided in from the left and side-footed into the far corner with his right to open the scoring in the 11th minute, sliding in to double his tally at the far post 10 minutes later. He completed his hat-trick after the hour. The match ended in a 7-0 demolition and Mbappe had truly arrived.
Conquering Ligue 1
Mbappe added to his collection of match balls with a treble in a 5-0 thumping of Metz in February as his and Monaco's season went into overdrive. Mbappe's second hat-trick of the campaign came towards the start of a purple patch that returned 20 goals in 23 games across all competitions. The run concluded as he sped clear of the Saint-Etienne defence and rounded Stephane Ruffier to set Monaco on the way to a title-clinching 2-0 win.
Champion de FRANCE— Kylian Mbappé (@KMbappe) May 18, 2017
Merci à tous pour vos messages pic.twitter.com/ui48fRkHI3
Champions League breakthrough
As the youngster thrilled in peak form, Leonardo Jardim decided it was time to unleash him on the biggest stage. Mbappe marked his first Champions League start by lashing emphatically into the top-left corner against Manchester City. ASM lost a thriller 5-3 at the Etihad Stadium but won the return 3-1 to prevail on away goals in the last 16, with Mbappe again on target. He netted three times over two legs versus Borussia Dortmund in the quarter-finals and had been widely anointed as Europe's next superstar by the time he scored in vain against Juventus in the semis. He joined Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann and Robert Lewandowski in UEFA's squad of the season.
1 - Kylian Mbappe has become the youngest player to score in a Champions League semi-final (18 years & 140 days). Comet. pic.twitter.com/QLKdKMienl— OptaJean (@OptaJean) May 9, 2017
France coach Didier Deschamps saw no reason to resist the Mbappe phenomenon, adding him to a squad brimming with prodigious young talent for the March World Cup qualifier against Luxembourg. It stands as an anomaly that the forward who will become football's most expensive teenager has failed to register an international goal in four appearances. However, the way he and Ousmane Dembele – another man since lumbered with a humongous price tag – eviscerated England in a June friendly with their team down to 10 men suggested there are many memorable outings for Les Bleus to come.