Mbappe’s time has arrived
Neymar looks on as 19-year-old enjoys teammates’ adulation
● Kylian Mbappe’s inexorable rise as one of world football’s biggest stars has been nicely summed up by his appearance on the cover of Time magazine.
The 19-year-old having his image on the front of the iconic publication as one of it’s “Next Generation Leaders” for 2018 is the latest example of his star eclipsing that of Paris Saint-Germain teammate Neymar.
The France international won the World Cup with Les Bleus this summer and has been received jubilantly in his home country since returning to domestic action.
Meanwhile, Neymar has been working hard to bolster his waning position among the game’s elite. Since making his worldrecord move from Barcelona in 2017, the Brazil forward has failed to live up to his à222m price tag. His debut season in France was cut short by injury, and he failed to shine in Russia as Brazil were eliminated in the quarterfinals by Belgium.
The 26-year-old had at one time consolidated his position as heir in waiting to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as the world’s next player to claim the big individual awards.
Fifa men’s player
But his fall from that position was illustrated when he was not even on the 10-man shortlist for the best Fifa men’s player award, won by Luka Modric.
Mbappe scored four goals in 13 secondhalf minutes against Lyon in Ligue 1 last Sunday, which overshadowed Neymar’s unselfish performance at Parc des Princes, and was encapsulated by that viral picture of PSG’s No 10 looking on as the No 7 enjoyed his teammates’ adulation.
Back in 2013 Neymar featured on the cover of Time and was billed as “The Next Pele.” Though he has enjoyed his fair share of praise from the Brazil legend, Mbappe is the one who has been enjoying more of late after becoming the youngest player to score in the World Cup final since Pele did so in 1958.
Neymar left Barcelona to escape from Lionel Messi’s shadow and though clearly key to coach Thomas Tuchel’s PSG plans. Mbappe himself recently told beIN Sports that PSG have chosen the South American as their “leader” and the Frenchman’s stock has never been higher.
Speaking with Time, Mbappe discussed:
● His meteoric rise: “My life has been totally turned upside down.”
● World Cup success: “We realised we left a mark on history.”
● Giving France appearance fees to charity: “[It] does not change my life, but changes theirs.”
● His hometown of Bondy: “A city that breathes football.”
● And his family: “My mom has always told me that to become a great football player, you must be before all a great man.”
Could Mbappe’s star rise further at Neymar’s expense with a Ballon d’Or win to cap an incredible 2018 for the teenager and a largely forgettable one for his teammate?
Mbappe was again in the headlines later this week as he inspired a fightback from France as they rallied from two goals down at home to earn a 2-2 draw against Iceland in an international friendly on Thursday.
Mbappe, brought on as a substitute for the final half-hour, gave France a lifeline when his shot was saved and then inadvertently turned in by Iceland defender Holmar Orn Eyjolfsson.
The Paris Saint-Germain forward levelled from the penalty spot in the 90th minute after Kolbeinn Sigthorsson handled at a corner. — espn.com and AFP