King Kylian! Is France superstar Mbappe the heir to the Brazilian Ronaldo’s throne?

Last updated
Comments()
The young forward's show of pace, power and finishing in Saturday's 4-3 win over Argentina was reminiscent of the former Selecao star in full flow

Kylian Mbappe had not even been born when the 1998 World Cup took place in France. In it, Les Bleus went on to win the competition for the first time, beating Brazil and Ronaldo in the final in Paris.

Zinedine Zidane was the star of the showpiece game at the Stade de France, although the match had started in controversy after Ronaldo had been left out of the starting line-up for Brazil, only to be reinstated at the last minute amid rumours of convulsions before kick-off.

Ronaldo won the World Cup four years later with Brazil - scoring both goals in the final win over Germany - although he was a different player by then after so many injuries and ever since his retirement, football has not seen anything like O Fenomeno at his peak.

Not, that is, until now. When he was tearing past Argentina defenders as he scored twice and also won a penalty in France's 4-3 win over the Albiceleste on Saturday in the last 16 of the World Cup, Mbappe reminded everyone of peak Ronaldo.

During the game in Saint Petersburg, former England striker Gary Lineker wrote on Twitter: "Phenomenal run from Mbappe. Reminds me so much of Brazilian Ronaldo."

"Kylian has a lot of talent, speed and goals, but he's still very young," France  defender Raphael Varane said afterwards .

"He has qualities similar to Ronaldo, the Brazilian, but he's also something different, he likes dribbling, he's learning and we're happy to have a player like him."

And in his post-match press conference after the win over Argentina, France boss Didier Deschamps said: "Ronaldo was a forward player who was very, very quick. I think Kylian is even quicker.”

All of that is high praise indeed. The Brazilian Ronaldo, now 41, was considered the most exciting player in the world when he burst onto the scene as a teenager with PSV Eindhoven and then Barcelona, scoring 47 goals in 49 appearances in his single season with the Catalan club, including one wonderful solo effort against Compostela.

That fantastic form continued following a world-record move to Inter in 1997 and another transfer to Real Madrid in 2002, and although his career was interrupted by serious injuries, he won the Ballon d'Or twice among numerous other titles for his clubs and also his country, scoring 62 goals in 98 appearances for Brazil.

Ronaldo Brazil

“The best player I have ever played with? That’s Ronaldo. I have seen O Fenomeno do things that nobody else has ever done," Kaka once said. And his former AC Milan team-mate, Alessandro Nesta, added: "Ronaldo is the hardest attacker I’ve ever had to face. He was impossible to stop."

For his part, legendary Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon said: "The striker who caused me all kinds of trouble was Ronaldo, the Brazilian one. He was the perfect player, as he had power, speed, intuition, technical skills and quickness. He was a jaw-dropping player. It seemed like he was created in a lab."

And Ronaldinho said: “He was my idol and then I end up playing and winning a World Cup with him. The most complete striker there has ever been, the most complete striker there will ever be."

When he was growing up, Mbappe idolised another Ronaldo, Cristiano, with images emerging of the France forward's bedroom in his younger years, the walls plastered with pictures of the current Real Madrid forward.

Kylian Mbappe France Argentina World Cup 2018 300618

Over the past couple of days, reports in Spain have claimed that the Portuguese will leave Real this summer after nine years at the Santiago Bernabeu and move to Juventus in a €100 million transfer.

Article continues below

And having missed out on Mbappe's signing a year ago when he left Monaco to join Paris Saint-Germain as an 18-year-old, Madrid are now being linked with a world-record transfer for the explosive teenager.

Such a move would see the youngster follow in the footsteps of the original Ronaldo and if he can have better luck with injuries than the brilliant Brazilian, he could even go on to surpass the achievements of the Brazilian legend.

First, however, he will be hoping to fire France past Uruguay and onto to glory at the World Cup in Russia, where he could yet face Brazil – and yet more Ronaldo comparisons – in the semi-finals.

Next article:
Deschamps not concerned with Mbappe injury
Next article:
PSG team-mate Choupo-Moting hopes Neymar injury is not serious
Next article:
'You need to stop this!' - Cavani blasts media for speculation over Neymar rift
Next article:
Giggs: Wales let themselves down
Next article:
USMNT bids farewell to a forgettable 2018 with another wasted opportunity
Close