Written By: Abidoye Babatunde
Believe it or not, it has been 8 years since Kylian Mbappé became Monaco’s youngest ever player when he made his debut in December 2015. Return to present day and the now PSG forward is widely regarded as one of the best players in the world and has achieved a multitude of accolades, trophies and records during his career. The scary thing is – he’s just turned 25. Here’s a look at some of the biggest milestones of his eight-year playing career:
2016: Making a name at Monaco
The eyes of the world were watching when Kylian Mbappé began tearing Ligue 1 defences a part in 2016 despite being just 17-years-old. The former Monaco forward made 11 appearances during the 15/16 season for Les Monégasques, but its the 16/17 season where things really kicked into gear for the now France captain. Mbappé announced himself to fans of French football with the first hat trick of his career in a 7-0 win against Rennes and from there, he has never looked back.
2017: A champion is born
In the 2016/17 season, Mbappé was the star man as he propelled Leonardo Jardim’s Monaco to an unlikely Ligue 1 crown. Fending off his current club PSG to come out victorious as Ligue 1 champions, Mbappé scored 15 goals and assisted a further 11 to aid Les Monégasques to their first domestic title in 17 years. If people hadn’t heard the name Kylian Mbappé by this point, they had probably been sleeping under a rock.
The France international wasn’t just capturing the attention of the footballing public in France either. In addition to making his France debut at 17, the forward’s mesmeric performances in the Champions League instantly catapulted him into the limelight. Monaco reached the semi-final of UEFA’s premier club competition in 2017 and Mbappé was pivotal. Two goals against Manchester City to help knock out the Citizens and a brace against Dortmund in the quarter finals truly made the world sit up and watch the brilliance of such a young player.
2018: On top of the World
2018 was quite possibly the most groundbreaking of Mbappé’s career to date. Following his stellar campaign with Monaco, the then teenager was signed for a world record-breaking €166m by Paris Saint-Germain in the summer of 2017. At the time eyebrows were raised as the French forward has only produced elite level performances for one season, but Les Parisien’s investment had been paid back instantly as he scored 21 goals and assisted 16 in all competitions to aid PSG on their way to a domestic treble.
Despite such an incredible domestic season, the best was yet to come on the International stage. Mbappé was instrumental as France were crowned World Champions at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The France international became the youngest player to score in a final since Pélé and won young player of the tournament in the process. His performance in France’s win against Lionel Messi’s Argentina (4-3) in what will go down as one of the greatest games in World Cup history showed his true quality at just 18-years-old.
2019: Crown Collecting
2019 was always going to struggle to top 2018 after winning a World Cup and signing for your hometown club. However, Mbappé continued to mature and stake his claim as the star of the future for PSG. Alongside Cavani and Neymar, the France captain continued to traumatise Ligue 1 defences as Les Parisiens collected a second consecutive Ligue 1 title. This was Mbappé’s third domestic title in a row in France. The PSG attacker scored 33 goals and won the golden boot in the process.
A golden boot wouldn’t be the only personal accolade Mbappé would pick up in 2019 as he continued to add to his ever-growing collection of crowns. The Monaco youth product was named the best U21 player in the world as he picked up the inaugural Kopa Trophy at France Football’s Ballon d’Or ceremony.
2020: Domestic Dominance
Mbappé and PSG made history in 2020 as they became the first side in France’s history to win a domestic quadruple. Les Parisiens won Ligue 1, Coupe de France, Coupe de la Ligue and Trophée des Champions in the 2019/20 season. 2020 saw the Ligue 1 season brought to an early conclusion following the COVID-19 pandemic, but Mbappé was still as instrumental as he scored 25 goals in what was a dramatically shortened season.
The France captain was one match away from being a part of winning everything possible to win in a season with his hometown club. Following the resumption of football, PSG took part in the final eight of the Champions League and reached the final in Portugal against Bayern Munich. It would be his international teammate and former PSG player Kingsley Coman who prevented PSG from one of the most dominant seasons in football history.
2021: Nations League success
In terms of success with club, 2021 was quite possibly the most disappointing of Kylian Mbappé’s career as PSG missed out on a fourth successive Ligue 1 title to Lille. However, Mbappé was still the most effective player in Ligue 1 during the 2020/21 season as he collected his third consecutive golden boot award.
In contrast, for his country, 2021 was a much more memorable year. Mbappé won the second international trophy of his career with France as they were crowned winners of the UEFA Nations League. Les Bleus were reliant on the brilliant partnership and understanding developed between Karim Benzema and Mbappé. The France captain scored the winning goal in each the semi final and final and also assisted Benzema twice.
2022: Almost untouchable
France’s run to the 2022 World Cup final was hardly a surprise. However, the performances and reliance on Kylian Mbappé to take them a penalty shootout away from a second consecutive World Cup crown were truly astonishing. The PSG forward scored 8 goals for Les Bleus as he brought the golden boot home with him from Qatar, but the 25-year-old will have felt it should have been so much more.
The France international continuously produced impressive performances throughout the tournament but none more so than in the final. With France two goals down, Mbappé single-handedly bought them back into the game with a hat trick. The 25-year-old had once again made the headlines in a World Cup final but this time one of the best performances in the competition’s history was not enough to bring the trophy back to France for a second time in a row.
2023: Leading for Les Bleus & 300 career goals
2023 alone has been a truly impressive year for Mbappé. There are not many prouder moments for a footballer than being afforded the opportunity to represent their country international. The 25-year-old has been given quite possibly the greatest responsibility of any international player. Following the retirement of Hugo Lloris, Mbappé was named Les Bleus captain by Didier Deschamps. This has amplified his performances in a France shirt as he chases down his international teammate Olivier Giroud as Les Bleus’ all-time top goalscorer.
The France captain has also broke a multitude of records for both club and country during the calendar year. Most notably, he became the Paris Saint-Germain all-time top goalscorer and scored 300 career goals. Add a Ligue 1 title to boot and 2023 was a truly impressive year for the Frenchman.
Following in the footsteps of the greatest
There have been many great players who have staked their claim as the best of a generation and Mbappé is certainly a contender for that accolade. Messi and Ronaldo are arguably the greatest players the game has ever seen and the stats show that the PSG forward is exceeding their output at the same age of 25. As identified by Opta, Mbappé has scored more goals than both at the time they turned 25.
Far from finished
To have achieved what Kylian Mbappé has achieved at the age of 25 is truly astonishing and more than most players will ever achieved throughout their entire careers. Whilst looking into the past as a reminder of his story to date shows how good he actually is, the fact he is only 25 makes it incredibly hard to predict what he could have achieved in another eight years at which point he will be 33. To be continued…
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