Five things on Kylian Mbappé
Kylian Mbappé is already a star of world football at the tender age of 21. A FIFA World Cup winner with France and three-time Ligue 1 Conforama champion, what else is there to know about the free-scoring Paris Saint-Germain forward?
AS Monaco's youngest ever debutant when he replaced Fabio Coentrao in the principality outfit's 1-1 draw with SM Caen in December 2015 at the age of 16 years, 11 months and 13 days, Mbappé's first goal for the club came two months later, when, at 17 years and 62 days old, he scored in a 3-1 win over ESTAC Troyes. Both records eclipsed a certain Thierry Henry.
With a first Ligue 1 Conforama title in his pocket - sealed in 2017 - Mbappé signed for PSG, initially on loan, before making the deal permanent for a reported €180m in 2018. In the process, he became the second most expensive transfer of all time, behind clubmate Neymar Jr., and the highest valued teenager in history.
At international level, Mbappé's first outing for France - a 3-1 win over Luxembourg in March 2017 - made him their second-youngest debutant at 18 years, three months and six days of age, behind Maryan Wisniewski, whose 62-year record remained intact by a matter of weeks. The youngest French scorer at a World Cup the summer before last, Mbappé's goal in the 4-2 win over Croatia also made him the first teenager since Pelé to score in the final.
Mbappé (r.) became a world champion with France alongside Antoine Griezmann (l.) and Paul Pogba (c) in 2018.
2) France's gain…
Now up to 13 goals in 34 senior international outings with France, Mbappé was also eligible to play for Cameroon and Algeria due to the heritage of his father and mother respectively. Mbappé's father Wilfrid was a youth soccer coach, while his mother Fayza Lamari is a former handball player.
Born in Paris, there was never any doubt that Mbappé would one day turn out for France, though. He joined the French national youth academy at Clairefontaine aged 12 and first turned out for France's under-17s in 2014. A 2016 UEFA European Under-19 Championship winner with Les Espoirs, Didier Deschamps handed him his debut the following year and the rest, as they say, is history.
3) An early Bond(y)
It's no accident that Mbappé fell into football. Before joining Clairefontaine, he made his first steps in the game in the youth ranks at local youth club AS Bondy. Father Wilfrid was his coach, and LOSC star and now France colleague Jonathan Ikoné was a teammate.
Bondy's first-team may only play ten levels down in the French footballing pyramid, but the youth teams have also churned out Sevilla FC-owned full-back Sébastien Corchia and DR Congo international Fabrice N'Sakala in recent seasons, and the sleepy club on the outskirts of Paris is now overwhelmed with youngsters looking to become the next Mbappé.
4) Friends with Neymar
Neymar (l.) and Mbappé (r.) help form one of the most devastating attacks in world football at PSG.
Whilst Ikoné and Mbappé have rarely rubbed shoulders upon progressing to senior professional football - the former swapped PSG for Montpellier Hérault SC before joining Lille the same summer Mbappé returned to the French capital - the young forward has struck up a quick friendship with Neymar.
Far from competing for the limelight, the attacking phenoms are happy to share it. "My relationship with Kylian's very good," Neymar told France Football. "We're good friends and we help each other to win matches, to score goals. There's something special between us, not competition."
A combined 19 goals and eight assists between them this season suggest such words run deeper than merely an interview for PR purposes.
5) His game has evolved
Mbappé's first goal - in that 3-1 win over Troyes - was scored with his left foot. Of his 26 goals in all competitions in his first full season with Monaco - 2016/17 - 12 were scored with his right foot (46 percent) and his first full campaign with PSG saw 21 goals, 11 of which were scored on Mbappé's favoured side (52 percent). These numbers paint the picture of a complete striker, but something curious began to happen at the start of last season.
The youngster plundered 39 goals in all competitions, but only three of them were left-footed attempts, and this has continued into the current campaign, with all but three of his 18 goals being scored with his right boot.
Watch: All of Mbappé's goals so far this season
Scratch the surface and it means Mbappé has simply become more efficient. In the past he still had to beat his marker on either side. Now, he's invariably already scooted past him, allowing for a simpler finish on his favoured foot. Responsible for a league goal every 131 minutes in his first two full campaigns in the French top flight, Mbappé has needed an average of just 72 minutes per goal in his past two seasons with PSG.