Kylian Mbappe’s emergence on a World Cup stage with France shows that “Gods are being born”, says Marcello Lippi, with the exits of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo being overplayed.
The two legendary figures of the modern era were expected to illuminate Russia 2018, in what could potentially be their last shot at securing global glory with their respective nations.
Argentina and Portugal were always unlikely to challenge, though, and even the presence of multiple Ballon d’Or winners was unable to inspire either past the last 16 stage.
It has been suggested that an iconic era is coming to a close, with fears raised to what will happen when Messi and Ronaldo bow out, but Lippi believes a new generation – led by Mbappe – is already coming to the fore.
“Messi and Ronaldo have not fallen, they’ve been the best for 10 years and will still be at the top.
“If anything other Gods are being born, like Mbappe.”
Paris Saint-Germain forward Mbappe has been drawing comparisons to Brazil legend Ronaldo with his performances this summer, and Lippi agrees that the 19-year-old is cut from the same cloth as O Fenomeno.
He added: “Yes, he looks like him. He runs at that extraordinary speed with the ball at his feet.
“He has incredible quality and - let’s not forget - a strong team around him from [Antoine] Griezmann to [Paul] Pogba.”
Pogba is another to have impressed for France while on World Cup duty, with the Manchester United midfielder having been able to turn a deaf ear to his critics.
He has looked more like the player which burst onto the global scene at Juventus, with the 25-year-old having been freed to shine as part of a star-studded Les Bleus side.
Former Juve boss Lippi said of Pogba: “He does things a little differently from when he was at Juventus, but he’s admired by the group.
“That’s what Messi didn’t have. He didn’t fall, it’s Argentina who aren’t a great team anymore.”
The same accusation could be levelled at Italy after they failed to secure their place at Russia 2018.
A play-off defeat to Sweden has left the Azzurri watching on from afar, with Lippi admitting that there will be plenty of regrets in his homeland after missing out on an unpredictable tournament which has opened up for a number of dark horses.
He said: “Does that increase the regret for Italy? Unfortunately yes. They would have done well, because they still have quality.
“There are 1,000 reflections you could make on the defeat to Sweden, but in 90 years we’ve failed to qualify twice while we’ve won four World Cups, losing one on penalties.
“And for the future there are good young people and an intelligent coach like [Roberto] Mancini, who can do important things.”