2016, not 2017, was, I would say, the breakout year for Kylian Mbappé as a footballer. It was on the 20th February 2016, in a 3-1 league victory over Troyes during stoppage-time Kylian scored his first goal for the club’s first team. At the tender age of 17 years and 62 days, he became the youngest goal scorer in Monaco’s history, breaking another one of former Monaco starlet’s, Thierry Henry, record. 3 months later, he helped Monaco’s U19 capture the Coupe Gambardella in a 3-1 victory over Lens U19 with 2 goals and an assist in the final. He capped off a fine debut season by helping the French U19 win the 2016 UEFA European Under-19 Championship in June, scoring five goals. He was the second highest goal scorer, behind his teammate Jean-Kévin Augustin.
2 months later to start of the 2016/17 season, Mbappé suffered a head injury in the 1st leg of a Champions League qualification match against Villarreal, making him miss the next 5 matches for Monaco. After recovering from that injury, time he used for studying and finishing his exams, he would end up making a string of substitute appearances up until October, beginning to play full matches (80-90 minutes) from then. During the period from October up until the start of December, he managed to get himself 4 goals in 6 starts, still being 17 years old. It was on 14 December 2016, Mbappé scored his first hat-trick of his senior career in a 7-0 win over Stade Rennais F.C., in the Coupe de la Ligue round of 16. It made him the first Monaco player since Sonny Anderson, in 1997, to score a hat-trick in the competition. On the 20th December, he turned 18 and has since broke the internet, gaining more plaudits with each game he has plays. On the 11 February 2017, Mbappé scored his first Ligue 1 hat-trick during a 5-0 thrashing over FC Metz, making him the second youngest player to score a hat-trick Ligue 1 since Jérémy Menéz did so age 17 in 2005.
The name ‘Kylian Mbappé’ came into prominence on the world stage only 4 months ago. Prior to the round of 16 first leg against Manchester City, the English football’s heavyweights were touted to win easily but that was not the case. The Manchester club had reached the semi-final the season before and had replaced their former manager of Manuel Pellegrini with added European football pedigree, in Pep Guardiola. Yet, Manchester City were sent crashing out Europe’s premier club competition by the club from the French principality. Monaco’s potent style of play dazzled the spectators but it was Mbappé took centre stage, scoring in both the home and away leg. For an 18 year old starting in such a tie, you would think the occasion would be all too much for the young star, but no, he took it all in his stride. The confidence gained from performing in that tie carried on throughout the rest of the season for the young man, particularly in the Champions league. Goal after goal after goal came. The 18 year old showed his mercurial talent more so than ever in the Champions league tie against Borussia Dortmund, scoring 2 goals away and then 1 at home taking his tally to 5 goals in the Champions League. However, Monaco would meet their continental campaign’s end against Juventus, losing 4-1 on aggregate. Mbappé scored the solitary goal for Monaco in a 2-1 loss in Turin taking his tally to 6 goals in the Champions league, all of them within the knockout stages of the competition.
He would end the season having played 44 games with 26 goals and 11 assists in all competitions, winning the Ligue 1 young player of the year award, getting voted in the Ligue 1 2016/17 team of the season and winning the Ligue 1 title with Monaco in his first full season for the club. Kylian Mbappé, the precarious fleet footed 18-year-old French star who is the most sought-after attacker in Europe right now. Performing in both Ligue 1 and Champions League these last six months at the extremely high level he has whilst progressing with every passing game, not forgetting the very rare maturity of a player his age, has earned him comparisons to the likes of Messi, Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo when they were his teenagers.
But will he stay in France this summer? So many clubs including the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United and Arsenal are reported to be willing to spend world record sums on the French starlet. Only he has the last word on his future after taking Europe by storm.
By: Flavien Bamu/@Flavs005