Kylian Mbappé, Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr., PSG
Internationals

Mbappé, Neymar and Messi at the World Cup: MNM roles, form and odds

Mbappé, Neymar and Messi at the World Cup: MNM roles, form and odds

Internationals
Publish on 11/09 at 11:23 - S. TELFORD

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In Kylian Mbappé, Neymar Jr. and Lionel Messi, Paris Saint-Germain will send three of the best players in the game to the FIFA World Cup later this month. Who will come out on top?

France are the defending champions, Brazil are the record winners, and Argentina lifted the Copa America just last year. And PSG trio Mbappé, Neymar and Messi - MNM - just so happen to be three of the favourites' best players.

 

Ligue1.com looks at how they've been doing for club and country, and what that might mean for their chances of glory in Qatar…

 

Neymar

Country: Brazil

Caps/Goals: 125/75

Honours: Confederations Cup 2013, Olympic Gold 2016

 

PSG form:

 

Neymar looked bound for the PSG exit when club president Nasser Al-Khelaïfi publicly questioned his discipline at the start of the season, but he stayed, and the results have been out of this world.

 

Generally playing as one of two No.10s, to the left of Messi and slightly behind Mbappé, Neymar is playing his career-best football, with his 15 goals and 12 assists in 19 games in all competitions plundered at a rate of one every 57.4 minutes he has played.


Role with Brazil:

 

Neymar is Brazil's talisman, and fulfils a similar tactical role with his country, normally with Richarlison up ahead of him and Raphinha to his right. He had eight goals and eight assists in 10 games as Brazil topped CONMEBOL qualifying, and another four and two in each column in their friendly games since.

 

When Neymar was injured for the semi-final on home turf in 2014, the nation almost went into a state of mourning even before Germany thrashed them 7-1. Has long since rebounded, and was only a game away from Copa America glory against Messi's Argentina last year, with former PSG man Angel Di Maria grabbing the winner in the final.

 

Brazil's odds of winning: 41/10

Neymar's odds of being top goalscorer: 17/1

 

Lionel Messi

Country: Argentina

Caps/Goals: 164/90

Honours: Olympic Gold 2008, Copa America 2021, Finalissima 2022

 

PSG form:

 

Messi wasn't as prolific as expected last season, his first since arriving on a free transfer from Barcelona, but this term his numbers have been incredible for PSG. Despite averaging a slightly deeper playing position than Neymar, the 35-year-old has contributed 12 goals and 14 assists at a rate of one every 60.8 minutes he has featured.

 

Out of contract at the end of the season, PSG Football Advisor Luis Campos is understandably keen to get the Argentine to extend beyond 2022/23. "I asked Messi if he wanted to stay and told him that I hope he'll stay here during my [three-year] tenure. I'm very satisfied with Leo."

 

 

Role with Argentina:

 

Generally regarded as the greatest player of all time, Messi still has to win a World Cup to pull level with Diego Maradona in many Albiceleste fans' affections, although he got a monkey off his back in lifting that Copa America last year. Has nine goals and two assists in the four games since qualifying - including victory over Italy in the Finalissima - came in at a rate of one every 27.6 minutes!

 

Plays as a No.10 or right up front with Argentina depending on who he has for company in the final third. Likely to be the former role in Qatar, with Lautaro Martinez leading the line with either Julian Alvarez or Di Maria completing the front three.

 

Argentina's odds of winning: 6/1

Messi's odds of being top goalscorer: 14/1

 

Kylian Mbappé

Country: France

Caps/Goals: 59/28

Honours: World Cup 2018, UEFA Nations League 2021

 

PSG form:

 

Mbappé spurned Real Madrid to sign a three-year contract extension with PSG in May, and has picked up where he left of last season, racing to the top of the Ligue 1 Uber Eats scoring charts alongside Neymar on 11 goals. The team's top goalscorer with a further seven in all competitions, Mbappé also has five assists to his name for a goal-involvement every 68.9 minutes.

 

Has been playing at the point of the MNM attack with Messi's Argentina teammate Mauro Icardi allowed to leave on loan to Galatasaray. New coach Christophe Galtier deserves credit for getting the best out of each of his three stars, but Mbappé's role differs with France…

 

 

Role with France:

 

Where Mbappé is the furthest forward player with PSG, he tends to play to the left of either Karim Benzema or Olivier Giroud for the world champions. It is a position he thrives in, with five goals and two assists as les Bleus finished top of UEFA qualifying Group D. Unlike Neymar and Messi, has also won the World Cup, of course, part of the victorious 2018 team in Russia where he was named Young Player of the Tournament.

 

Likely to fulfil with France what is effectively Neymar's with PSG. "I have a more freedom here," he said after scoring twice against Austria in September. "The coach [Didier Deschamps] knows that there's a No.9 like Olivier, who keeps defences occupied. I can get into space and ask for through-balls. I take pleasure in both positions though!"

 

France's odds of winning: 7/1

Mbappé's odds of being top goalscorer: 10/1

 

PSG have the best attack in world football in Mbappé, Neymar and Messi.

 

Lionel Messi, Neymar Jr. Kylian Mbappé, PSG

 

The only two players in Europe this season that post similar goal-involvements per minute are Erling Haaland and Cody Gakpo. But Manchester City goal-machine Haaland isn't going to the World Cup with Norway, and Netherlands winger Gakpo still plies his trade with PSV Eindhoven in the relative lesser light of the Dutch Eridivisie.

 

And having each for MNM in one side, fit and firing, is a sight to behold. It would be akin to having Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal playing for the same Davis Cup team, a sport's strongest players all pulling in the same direction.

 

The fantastic three will be separated in Qatar, and seeing which one of them goes furthest will be reason enough alone to watch.