Mbappe streaks ahead of Neymar this season - The Ligue 1 Performance Index

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ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT
The numbers have been crunched and, after 10 matches in France, the stats have the World Cup-winner far and away the league's best player

Paris Saint-Germain’s perfect start to the season continued on Sunday as they defeated Marseille 2-0 away from home.

Kylian Mbappe is a young man who has grown accustomed to headlines during his brief career, but especially so in recent months, during which he became the first teenager since Pele in 1958 to score in a World Cup final as France won the trophy.

More glory is set to follow at Parc des Princes this season, and he helped underline PSG’s dominance of domestic affairs on Sunday at the home of their great rivals.

He was surprisingly left on the bench from the beginning of the match but took less than three minutes after coming on in the second half to break the deadlock, speeding away from Boubacar Kamara before firing by Steve Mandanda, highlighting his importance to the team.

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It was Mbappe’s 10th goal of a league season that has also produced three assists in just 522 minutes on the park. He is Europe’s most decisive player this season, so it should come as little surprise to learn that he tops the Opta Index, which charts the performance of every player in Ligue 1 to date this season.

His total of 91.8 easily eclipses any other player in the league, including Neymar, who has obtained a ranking of 85.2 to come in second place.

Between them, the PSG pair are dominating France’s top flight, with the Brazilian having scored eight times this season and laid on five more. 

Indeed, Neymar deserves praise for bouncing back so impressively after a serious injury sustained against Marseille last February and then a difficult World Cup, in which he was expected to lead Brazil despite being chronically short of match fitness. Now back up to speed, he is showing what he is really capable of on a weekly basis.

Two other PSG players have made it into the Top 10; midfielders Adrien Rabiot, who is sixth, and Julian Draxler, who comes in 10th, despite having played only 466 minutes so far this season.

But France’s top flight is now all about PSG’s galaxy of stars. 

Emerging talent has been one of Ligue 1’s great strengths in recent years, and following up the PSG duo is one such player in the form of Lille’s Jonathan Bamba. Although eclipsed by Nicolas Pepe in the transfer rumours stakes, according to the Opta Index, the attacker, who moved to LOSC on a Bosman deal from Saint-Etienne this summer, is his club’s best-performing player.

Quick, strong and with a keen eye for goal, he has been compared to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and he is certainly showing that he has a strong future in the game, with a score of 79.6.

Incidentally, Pepe, who has been linked with Barcelona, Arsenal and Bayern Munich, is the league’s eighth-rated player this season, with a score of 75.3.

Lyon and Monaco do not have any players who have made the Top 10, although Memphis Depay is 11th, but Marseille’s World Cup winner Florian Thauvin comes in at fifth, having shown few signs of a hangover after his success at Russia 2018. Having nursed an injury of late, the attacking midfielder still posts 10 goals and three assists this season.

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But there are some unsung names who are pushing towards the top of the list, too, most notably Nantes striker Emiliano Sala, who has played only 665 minutes of action this season but is on course for a career year after netting eight times for his club, almost single handily keeping them out of the relegation zone. 

South Africa forward Lebo Mothiba is another surprising name mingling with the superstars of the game. His Strasbourg side have leapt into the top half of the standings, with the striker having contributed heavily to their success, which includes wins over Monaco and Bordeaux.

Completing the list, meanwhile, is Nice shot-stopper Walter Benitez, who has enjoyed a strong start to the season for Patrick Vieira’s side.

Remarkably, the Top 10 players so far this season post an average age of little over 23.5 years old, highlighting once more the incredible potential that is still to be found coming through Ligue 1 and proving once more that there are future superstars coming through in France’s top flight as well as some very current ones.

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