Kylian Mbappe celebrates his 19th birthday on Wednesday, ending a year that has seen him go from an unknown to one of the most famous sportspeople on the planet.
After joining Paris Saint-Germain from Monaco in a deal that is set to make him the second most expensive player in history, Mbappe has set about justifying his stardom.
A year ago, the teenager was battling for a regular place in Monaco’s starting line-up but now features alongside Brazil superstar Neymar in a PSG strikeforce that is the envy of world football.
Here, we take a look at the rapid rise of a phenomenal talent who 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
Merci à tous pour vos messages pic.twitter.com/ui48fRkHI3
— Kylian Mbappé (@KMbappe) May 18, 2017
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. 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, although Mbappe has only scored once for his country in 10 appearances. Is he saving his goals for Russia 2018?
— Kylian Mbappé (@KMbappe) August 29, 2017
Hitting top form at PSG
Understandably, Mbappe has taken time to adapt at PSG, where he is often overshadowed by Neymar, as well as the reliably prolific Edinson Cavani. But in the lead-up to his 19th birthday, Mbappe has demonstrated he is starting to find his feet at Parc des Princes. The teenager has scored in four straight starts, while he also provided a brace of assists for Neymar in a 4-1 thumping of Rennes last time out. With Mbappe – winner of the 2017 Telefoot Trophy award for the best young French player – evidently still developing, it is frightening just how good he could become.
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