'Mbappe is the real star at PSG, not Neymar' - Papin salutes 30-goal sensation

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The last man to hit that mark in Ligue 1 has hailed a 20-year-old talent who has already become a talismanic presence for club and country

Kylian Mbappe is “the real star” at Paris Saint-Germain, says Jean-Pierre Papin, with Neymar operating in the 20-year-old’s shadow.

The Ligue 1 champions moved to bolster their ranks by snapping up two superstar forwards during the summer of 2017.

Neymar, in a record-breaking €222 million (£198m/$250m) deal, was considered to be the biggest statement of intent at the time.

The Brazil international has starred during his time in France, recording 48 goals in just 54 appearances, but Mbappe has been a revelation.

He became a two-time title winner and World Cup champion while still in his teens, before going on to hit the 30-goal mark in the French top flight this season.

Papin was the last man to achieve that feat 29 years ago and he considers Mbappe to be the star attraction at Parc des Princes, telling Le Parisien: “He has played so often because of injuries to others. 

“The real weapon of PSG is not Neymar, it's him. 

“We could have predicted that. Even if Neymar is galactic, the real star of PSG is Mbappe. 

“For two years now, Neymar has offered some fabulous flashes, but Mbappe is there all the time.”

Kylian Mbappe Marco Verratti Paris SG Monaco Ligue 1 21042019

Papin added on being joined in the 30-goal club: “It was about time! 

“I’ve been part of the story and it's good when others improve things. 

“Thirty goals is a lot, especially for a 20-year-old kid. The difference with me is that I did it once and he will do it several times.

“When, at 19, you win the World Cup, you score goals in the Champions League and you reach 30 goals in Ligue 1…

“He is able to score all the time. There is nothing to say about the quality of Kylian. He is just exceptional.”

Mbappe is now considered to be the leading man for PSG and France, with Papin placing him ahead of fellow countrymen turning out in Madrid for Atletico and Real.

Quizzed on who is the best, Papin said: “Kylian, of course, but we can put [Antoine] Griezmann and [Karim] Benzema next. 

“Benzema scored another hat-trick this weekend and has scored goal after goal with Real. It's so difficult. Kylian's difference is his age.”

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Despite having achieved so much at a young age, there are still plenty of targets for Mbappe to hit.

Asked about what the future could hold, Papin added: “Kylian is the golden generation. He arrived at the right moment, he is a world champion and plays for PSG at the top. 

“The next step is the Champions League and the Ballon d’Or.”