Who is the best player in the world? Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, these are some of the names that can actually be an answer to the question. Kylian Mbappe? This is the name that some people are using to answer the question. Really? A 19-year-old better than the legends of the game who have scored over 600 official goals? Who have won five Ballon d'Or titles each?
Let us move back to when this started. In 2017, the resurgence of AS Monaco was a big story, even more, because they were winning the league without big names against PSG who have dominated the Ligue 1 in recent years. The team was one of the best that Ligue 1 has ever seen with Thomas Lemar, Bernardo Silva, Bakayoko, Benjamin Mendy, and of course, Kylian Mbappe all amongst their ranks.
At that time, Mbappe was given the status of a wonderkid and the next-big-thing. Then in the next summer, PSG signed him and then his status skyrocketed. In PSG's eye, Neymar took away their Champions League opportunity thus they bought him, and Mbappe took the league from them and they bought him too.
Not only in PSG's eye, but in everyone's eye, Mbappe won the league for Monaco, and he took them to Champions League semi-finals. So, he did these things at 18, Messi and Ronaldo didn't, and that made him better than those two. Then came the World Cup in 2018 and in Russia, Kylian Mbappe the 19-year-old, knocked 'Lionel Messi's Argentina' out of the World Cup. He also won the best young player award, deservedly so.
When you put these things together, combined with the number of goals he has been scoring, he certainly seems a world-class player, which he is a tag he does not deserve right now but the media is bent on giving him right now.
Mbappe is an absolutely crack, a world-class talent, put double emphasis on that. A world-class talent is all that he is, he is not a world-class player by any means. We haven't even seen Mbappe play much. To be called world-class you need to be at the top of your game especially in big games for a fairly long time, and you should be the reason that your team is good at something. If you are not in your team, then it should be feeling the effects. You should have that something in you which lifts the team up. Does Mbappe has all of these qualities right now?
We all agree that he has done crazy things for his age, then why is he not world-class already
There have been young players who have stood out for their teams even before Mbappe has and didn't make it that big. Lukas Podolski was the best young player in the 2006 World Cup, Thomas Muller won the award in 2010. What happened to both players afterward? While both have had great careers and went on to win the World Cup as well, on an individual level, did they leave such a mark or impact?
When Podolski was 24 and playing for Koln as a striker, he took 88 games to score 33 goals, which is not a mesmeric number. Then, he went to Arsenal and score 19 goals in 60 games. He was loaned to Inter and scored only once in 17 games. Then ultimately, he had to got to Galatasaray and now he plays in the J-League. All these slumping numbers came when he was supposed to be at his peak. Podolski was consistently good for Germany in 2006, he was tied at second place for Golden Boot with Henry, Ronaldo Nazario, Torres, Villa, with 3 goals. Mbappe was lucky enough to have a team that could win the World Cup, that is the only difference between him and Podolski at 20 years old.
Thomas Muller. Hailed as the next Steven Gerrard after the World Cup in 2010 but now at 29, he is dropped from the German National Team and won't be selected again.
These players had created a similar impact to one which Mbappe created with their performances at World Cup but ultimately didn't get the world-class tag. Things done at youth might not be carried when players peak and hit their prime. That's why Mbappe, despite winning the World Cup, should not be hailed as a world-class player yet.
The Monaco Myth
The Champions League performance by Mbappe was a good one and he was impactful in Monaco's run to the semis with his clutch goals. But the league is a different story and that's where consistency comes into play, which only world-class players display.
Did Monaco really rely on Mbappe to win the league? They would have won it regardless. Mbappe scored 15 league goals, the second highest scorer for them, only behind Falcao. But what if I told you Fabinho as a defender scored 9 goals, Lemar and Bernardo Silva scored 9 and 8 respectively as midfielders? He also had 8 assists but even Sidibe had 7 that too being a defender, Lemar had 10, Bernardo Silva had 9. We know that forwards have the edge when it comes to numbers but Mbappe's numbers in Monaco's league winning season are closely matched even by defenders. Fact. He was only the 9th or 10th best player according to average match rating.
The numbers in PSG are misleading
When he moved to Paris, he simply was a part of a dominating and unstoppable trio and still, he finished with only 13 league goals and 8 assists. Even when, he had everything with him, the best forward partners, the best full-backs, everyone. Malcom, on the other hand, scored 12 goals with 7 assists. Mind you, Malcom did it without the quality that PSG provides Mbappe with, even though he played 8 more games than Mbappe.
In the Champions League, Mbappe is yet to make that major impact. The game against Argentina in the World Cup was the one that propelled Mbappe, he is yet to have that kind of a game in Europe. Reason being, Argentina's defense was in tatters and just needed some pace to overthrow them. Defenses in Europe need much more to be troubled. Mbappe's impact was not much last year when PSG faced Real Madrid, and it was not much when he faced Liverpool this year. He was a pain in the head for Manchester United by again, certain flaws are there in his game, which didn't help to get across the line. The 1v1 blunder against De Gea falls into that flaws part.
Look at Hakim Ziyech now. How good was he against the likes of Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos in the first leg? How good was he against Varane in the second-leg. He also plays as a part of a young team with no proven stars. He was good, splendid in fact. But nobody hails his performance, maybe because he hasn't won the World Cup or doesn't have a national team that could make use of his abilities to progress deep in the contest.
Mbappe's scoring numbers have risen at a big rate from last year in the league. He has scored 25 goals in 21 games. But we always have a right to undermine numbers in French Ligue 1 where the quality of football is, with all due respect, not as good as England and Spain, or for that matter even Italy. Italy has strong defenses, Spain has the most intensely pressing teams, England has fast and physical teams, Ligue 1 has no defined style. Add to that, players like Nicolas Pepe also have insane numbers without the quality of Mbappe's teammates.
What more do we need to call Mbappe a world-class player already, despite the flaws, hasn't he done enough?
When Ronaldo Nazario was 18, and he played in the Eredivisie, he scored 42 goals in 46 appearances for PSV. He then moved to Barcelona, scored 34 in 37 games. He was only 20 when playing for Barcelona. He was just moronic with his numbers which he followed up in the World Cup. He is one of the very few who deserved the 'world-class' player tag.
At 21, he was billed as the world's greatest player, he was a World Cup Golden Ball winner, a FIFA World Player of the Year winner, twice. When 'El Phenomeno' wasn't on the pitch, the dominant Brazilians weren't that dominant. If he wasn't ill, Brazil would have tiptoed their ways to the cup as many of my elders say.
In 2002, without Ronaldo, Brazil scraped through to the competition, but with him at the World Cup, it was a different story. Nobody stood a chance, nobody. That is what a world-class player means. Ronaldo earned the tag when he was just 21, he shouldered the expectations of the whole nation to win the biggest trophy in the sport. Only he has won that tag that early, no one else is worthy.
So, is Mbappe just overhyped and not a good player?
Never. In the wildest of dreams, don't think that Mbappe is not a good player. He is overhyped certainly and he has achieved things that qualify him for that media boost. But he shouldn't be called world-class already, it is not a good thing. He is a world-class talent and there are many other tweaks in his game that is needed.
Lionel Messi had to spend three years playing as a substitute or second-fiddle if you like, to earn that tag, and he had kept that with him after a decade. Cristiano Ronaldo had to do the same for Sir Alex and it wasn't until 2008, that he could be called a world-class player. Only these two qualify for the other conversation in football, which is the GOAT debate. That is a different thing altogether which French media is trying to divert towards their Golden Boy. Him finishing ahead of Leo in Ballon d'Or race was just a beginning.
Right now, Dembele is the best young dribbler, Jovic is the best young finisher, Frenkie de Jong is the most technically gifted young player, Sancho is the best final-third passer, De Ligt is the best young defender, then why is Mbappe an exception? If all the others are just talents then Mbappe should be no different, considering that others except Dembele don't enjoy the perks of having great teammates.
What do you think? Is Mbappe world-class just yet? Sound off in the comment section.