Kylian Mbappe only sits behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the global pecking order, says Bixente Lizarazu, with the Paris Saint-Germain forward boasting the potential to be “the next genuine superstar in football”.
Big things are expected of Mbappe, who continues to shine for club and country, with his name expected to figure prominently in Ballon d’Or votes of the future.
Lizarazu, a World Cup winner himself with France in 1998, believes Mbappe is destined for the top, telling Goal at the Bayern Youth Cup in Delhi: “Yes, I think he can be the next genuine superstar in football and I think he already is one.
“He is the best young footballer in the world and after Ronaldo and Messi, there is no reason why he cannot become the best in the world.”
Mbappe starred for France as Les Bleus captured a second world crown at Russia 2018 – 20 years after Lizarazu and Co had landed a first on home soil.
More is expected of a golden generation which also includes the likes of Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann, with Dider Deschamps having turned struggles of the recent past into a distant memory.
Asked to compare the class of 2018 with that of 1998, Lizarazu said: “I think more than anything, the spirit in the two teams was the same.
“Didier Deschamps brought the same spirit to the 2018 squad to the one we had during our time.
“This France squad did not go for the big individual names but ones who would fit in well in the system.
“Comparing both teams, I think ours was older and hence we were able to exert more control on the game.
“The 2018 squad had a lot of young players and relied more on counter-attacks.
“It was a fantastic achievement for France in Russia and I must say that Deschamps has done a brilliant job with the team.”
While Lizarazu was a star turn at left-back for France during a previous era of dominance, it was at Bayern Munich that he enjoyed the greatest success at club level.
Having taken in two spells with the German giants, he is now an ambassador for the Bundesliga outfit.
The 2018-19 campaign has been a testing one for those at the Allianz Arena, but they are back in a domestic title race and readying themselves for a crunch clash with Liverpool in the Champions League.
Lizarazu said of that encounter, with the first leg of a last-16 tie due to be staged at Anfield on Tuesday: “Liverpool are in amazing form in the Premier League. They were the Champions League finalists last year and they are even stronger this year.
“I think this is the toughest test Bayern could get because I believe Liverpool are one of the three favourites for the title this season.
“They are playing very well at the moment while Bayern are not at their best currently. They have not been playing well in the league and are second, which you know is not good enough.“So I think this will be a very exciting and difficult tie for Bayern.”