Kylian Mbappe is leading a new generation of World Cup stars whose emergence means football will soon move on from the Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo era, says Youri Djorkaeff.
French great Djorkaeff has a World Cup winner’s medal, which is more than Messi and Ronaldo can say as the serial Ballon d’Or winners head towards what is likely their last major global tournament.
The France 98 winner saw Mbappe help another generation of Les Bleus triumph four years ago in Russia, and Didier Deschamps’ side will again be among the favourites in Qatar this year.
Messi has reached a final with Argentina, but neither he nor Ronaldo has ever scored in a World Cup knockout game.
For all their great success at club level, neither could yet be considered a World Cup great.
Asked about both, and Ronaldo’s former Real Madrid club-mate Luka Modric, Djorkaeff disagreed their likely World Cup swan songs meant football was at a turning point in its history.
“No, we should not look back, we should look forward,” he said. “The Mbappes and all the players who will arrive. We have many of them in France.
“Generations pass, but what matters is the quality of the new players. In France, we have great players who arrive.”
— French Team (@FrenchTeam) March 31, 2022
Speaking in Doha ahead of Friday’s World Cup draw, Djorkaeff said any team that might feel they land a tough assignment should not be too downhearted, since there is no such thing as an easy draw.
“Yes, the World Cup is starting, so you prepare, and you know when you are going to play, but there is no good or bad draw,” Djorkaeff said.
With the tournament taking place unusually in November and December, rather than a familiar June and July stretch, Djorkaeff believes there will be a different flavour to the World Cup this year.
The 82-cap former forward said: “That’s where the World Cup will be different from the others. All the great players and all the teams are going to get to a point in the season where they are going to be competitive.
“It’s not the end of the season where it’s long and there are a lot of big games. It’s almost the beginning of the season. It’s going to be very interesting.”
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