The 23-year-old has come to Qatar to make his mark on the tournament. To date, he has done so in impressive fashion.
Let’s start this text about the amazing Kylian Mbappé with a sharp criticism of Kylian Mbappé. It was picked up a few days ago by Dani Alves, who today is 39 years old and is a member of the Brazilian national team at the World Cup in Qatar despite a huge loss in quality.
And who knows, the right-back might not only have done the Seleção a disservice with his replica, but also himself in light of a possible quarter-final against the French. For Mbappé – as shown in Équipe Tricolore’s 4-1 victory against Australia and the 2-1 victory against Denmark – has the class, but also the form these days to silence all his critics. The 23-year-old’s record after two games: one assist, three goals, meaning he has already overtaken Zinédine Zidane, who had scored 31 times in 108 caps for the national team.
As a rebellious heir to the throne
In any case, Alves assessed the French front man in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport as follows: “A great player must always know and understand who he is playing with. His teammates enrich his qualities. Mbappé is a phenomenon who still hasn’t understood that those who play with him in attack are more phenomenal than him.”
And apparently getting really angry, he continued: “Neymar and Messi are unique: they see and do things that no one sees or manages to do. You have to be intelligent to take advantage of their potential. They are both geniuses. I think I’m good with the ball, but when I play with Leo I give him the ball and when I play with Ney I give him the ball. When Mbappé passes them, they score 150 goals.”
You should know that Alves has been good friends with Messi and Neymar since their days together at FC Barcelona, and that he traded with Mbappé every day from 2017 to 2019 as a teammate at Paris Saint-Germain. So he knows what he’s talking about. And one or the other, including the one or the other PSG fan, will probably agree with his admission. In fact, Mbappé appears as a rebellious heir to the throne in the shirt of the French league champion, along with Messi and Neymar. As someone who doesn’t want to know anything, does even less for the Parisians’ defense than the two world stars, in other words: nothing.
Strained relationship with Benzema
In the end, it is probably the case that Mbappé, carried by an almost exuberant self-confidence, only derives further motivation from an admission like Alves. According to the motto: Just talk, I let actions and goals do the talking when it matters, like four years ago at the World Cup in Russia. In short: I am already the big number in world football.
In the French national team, however, there is another Mbappé to see. It could be an advantage for Les Bleus from a working environment and tactical point of view that Karim Benzema cannot take part in the final in Qatar due to a muscle injury.
Since Mbappé’s failed move to Real Madrid, which Benzema had pushed for as leader of the Madrilenians, relations between the two exceptional footballers have apparently been strained. In addition, Mbappé enjoys it when the whole game is tailored to him or when he can do whatever he wants on the left, which the center forward Benzema also likes to avoid.
Coach Deschamps lets him do it
In return for this fool’s freedom, he occasionally acts as a team player, pressing, blocking passing routes, and when in possession of the ball, he turns into Superman from one moment to the next. Teammate Jules Konde says: “If you know Kylian even a little bit, you know he will leave his mark on this tournament.” And right now he is in the process of “doing exactly that”.
Didier Deschamps, France’s coach, is smart enough to integrate this individual ambition into the bigger picture. He can be reminded of Zidane, who led the Équipe Tricolore to the titles at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 as the one who ultimately made the difference. He repeatedly praises Mbappé as an “exceptional player”, let him do it so that his side actually break the curse of the defending champions on 18 December. A first step in this direction has been taken with the early entry into the round of 16.