The teenage striker is gaining more admiring glances by the week and with good reason.
The ‘new X’ tag is probably the most overused element of hyperbole in the modern game. Barely does a player set foot out of the academy before his younger, fresher teammate is billed as the next in line, a superstar-in-waiting who now has to deal with considerable media attention and speculation as well as the pressure felt by any young athlete trying to make his name.
Then again, with Kylian Mpabbe, this tabloid trademark may actually carry some weight. It seems every young French striker has at some point been dubbed ‘the new Thierry Henry’ but, while the likes of David Bellion disappeared into obscurity, their fall dramatized by hyped up expectations of their talent, Mbappe looks increasingly like the real deal.
After all he, like the Arsenal legend, exploded into the Monaco first-team as a precious teen. And he, like the Arsenal legend, became both the club’s youngest ever debutant and its youngest ever goal-scorer.
It is no surprise, then, that the Gunners are rarely far away from the gossip columns these days in conjunction with the 17-year-old. The Daily Mail claims Arsene Wenger has held an interest since February at least.
Scoring five goals as France stormed to the under-19 European Championship in France, Mbappe has taken to senior level like a duck to water with his hat-trick in Wednesday’s 7-0 Coupe de la Ligue thrashing of Rennes the first treble scored by any Monaco player in the competition since the great Sonny Anderson in 1997, according to Opta.
A regular scorer with Marseille, Lyon and Barcelona, Mbappe could well emulate his Brazilian predecessor Anderson with considerable ease.
For the record, Leonardo Jardim’s side have now accumulated 76 goals in their last 28 matches. Good luck sleeping tonight John Stones.