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50 goals - Mbappé: 'I'm not going to stop now'

Publish on 28/02/2019 at 00:00 - S. WILLIS

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Kylian Mbappé now has 50 Ligue 1 Conforama goals - a total he reached faster than any other player in French footballing history. Check out what Arsène Wenger, Thiago Silva and others - including the man himself - had to say.

Kylian Mbappé's goalscoring exploits started in February 2016 when, aged 17 and two months, he netted against Troyes to become Monaco's youngest-ever scorer.

"I work every day to try to help my team, to make people happy too," beamed the young gun. "That's what football should be about. Scoring goals and breaking records is what makes me tick."

Onwards...

In 2016-17, the precocious teenager shone every time Leonardo Jardim picked him. In the second half of the season, the Frenchman became an automatic starter for Monaco, partnering Radamel Falcao in attack. Then, on 11 February 2017, Mbappé scored his first Ligue 1 hat-trick, against Metz, aged just 18.

"I work every day to be able to do this, so today I'm happy but I'm not going to stop now. I'm going to keep working hard to score many more goals," said the rising star at the time. "I wanted to become a complete attacker, able to play left, right, through the middle or even a bit deeper. When you're a forward and you want to become complete, you need to have that goalscoring instinct. I've developed that, and I like scoring goals now."

Words from the big chair

Former Arsenal and Monaco coach Arsène Wenger has been watching Mbappé develop for some time and explained that the young Frenchman is in fact a perfect storm of footballing qualities.

"He has a combination of speed in his legs, and speed in his brain, and the two come very well together. And that natural speed of analysis, that maturity in his interviews are absolutely impressive," he told the Ligue 1 Show. "God sent us this boy to show us how to play and how to behave."

But the man in question has a far more humble view of things.

"I'm the same person here as I am when I'm at home," said the native of Bondy, a suburb in Paris' north. "I don't play a role. I am the person you see."

Pressure? No problem

When Mbappé slotted his 15th league goal of a stunning breakthrough campaign, Monaco were crowned 2016-17 Ligue 1 champions. The Frenchman had won his first major trophy and Europe's biggest teams were queuing up to try to sign him.

"He has what is needed in the modern game. He can absorb the pressure like he enjoys it," observed Wenger. "The pressure doesn't look like a burden on his shoulders. It does more look like an exciting project for him."

Confirmation from Mbappé: "I like taking responsibility, I like to use the pressure as motivation so it's really not a problem."

... and upwards!

After making the switch to Paris Saint-Germain, Mbappé settled in seamlessly. Playing on the right-hand side of an attack that also included Neymar and Edinson Cavani, the forward was a key part of Europe's most deadly front line. Mbappé contributed 13 league goals and five assists, as PSG won back their title in swashbuckling fashion. Unai Emery's charges amassed 93 points and registered 108 goals along the way.

"That's why you work. It's why you make sacrifices," explained the precocious Parisian. "When you win a title, you're a happy man."

... and onwards

After firing France to World Cup glory, Mbappé was irresistible when he returned to club action. He registered eight goals and two assists in his first five appearances this season, and yet his new coach Thomas Tuchel still wasn't satisfied.

"It's not enough. He needs to score more and more," said the German who, even when Mbappé hit four against Lyon, demanded more. "He had a lot of big chances. Kylian could've scored six or seven."

Meanwhile the club's Italian contingent are also full of praise for the youngster.

"When there's a lot of space in front of him, Kylian is virtually unstoppable because he's pretty much faster than everyone," said midfield maestro Marco Verratti.

This season, nobody in Ligue 1 has looked capable of stopping Mbappé - or Paris Saint-Germain. With Mbappé to the fore, the capital club have opened up a 17-point lead at the top. In 16 starts and four substitute appearances, the France star has scored an incredible league-high 22 goals - so far.

"I understood that he is a special player," declared Italy legend Gianluigi Buffon. "If he stays focused on his objectives, he will become one of the best players in the history of football, along with Pélé, Maradona, Ronaldo and Messi."

... and upwards again!

In the past few weeks, Mbappé has had to shoulder the burden in terms of goal scoring, with both Neymar and Cavani out injured. In keeping with his career to date, he has taken that extra responsibility on without the slightest problem.

Indeed, Mbappé has looked lethal in the centre forward position. Still just 20, he looks well capable of establishing himself as the world's leading striker for years to come.

"He's young, he playing a lot - maybe a bit too much," tempered Tuchel. "But he's doing well and he's an exceptional player. I'm happy he's here - Kylian our finisher."

After some initial 'incredulity', club captain Thiago Silva came around: "I wasn't sure he is 20. But he has the documents, so we have to accept it! If he keeps going like this, keeps the same attitude, keeps playing for the team, then of course he'll keep scoring because he has so much quality."

'Set the bar as high as possible'

Amid talk of all-time greats and records, Mbappé has devised a way to stay hungry and keep achieving.

"I tell myself that one day somebody will come along and do even better than me," explained the football phenomenon. "I want to set the bar as high as possible because one day it will be bettered."

And Wenger feels that Mbappé has what it takes to push on: "His challenge now is 'where is my next level, am I capable to go to my next level, do I have the guts, and the need to go higher up', you know, that is where his future lies. But this guy looks to have unlimited resources."