Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini believes Kylian Mbappe will be the player to pick up the mantle left by Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo when they retire, with the Paris Saint-Germain youngster superior to team-mate Neymar in the eyes of the Italian.
A veteran of nearly 20 years at the top of the game, Chiellini has come across all the world’s leading centre-forwards and has revealed that he was awestruck the first time he saw Mbappe.
Indeed, he believes the 21-year-old has already eclipsed Neymar, who became the world’s most expensive ever player when he moved from Barcelona to PSG for a fee of €222 million (£198m/$258m) in the summer of 2017.
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“I think that Mbappe is better than Neymar because he’s more consistent,” he wrote in his autobiography ‘Io Giorgio’, according to an extract published by RMC. “The future belongs to him.
“He’s a truly unique player. The first time I saw him play on television was in the Champions League of 2016-17, during Manchester City vs Monaco. He was very impressive.
“At the end of the first half, I asked Juventus sporting director Fabio Paratici: ‘Who is he? What planet does he come from?’ Fabio told me: ‘Yes, I know. We’ve known about him for a long time.’
“He was an unstoppable striker and was only 18 years old. That year, we faced them in the semi-finals. Now he’s 21 and he’s already a world champion. Allure, technique, instinct, he doesn’t miss anything. He’s a player who exudes something, who is a priceless masterpiece.”
Mbappe helped PSG to another Ligue 1 title this season, offering an impressive contribution of 18 goals in 20 outings, sufficient to grant him the division’s top scorer award – a prize he offered to share with Monaco’s Wissam Ben Yedder.
Meanwhile, the forward also fired PSG into the quarter-finals of the Champions League, having offered five goals and five assists in seven fixtures in Europe’s premier club competition.
The France international’s domestic campaign might have had the brakes put on it prematurely due to the coronavirus pandemic, but UEFA still hope to complete the Champions League, with PSG aiming to win the title for the first time.