Kylian Mbappe has the potential to emulate Cristiano Ronaldo as football’s next big star, Gary Lineker said ahead of the World Cup final.
The 19-year-old has helped France through to the showpiece, in which they will tackle Croatia on Sunday, scoring two goals and winning widespread acclaim for the manner in which he has applied himself during Russia 2018.
Indeed, Lineker, who won the Golden Boot at the 1986 World Cup, believes the young Frenchman from Bondy has everything it takes to become the next superstar.
“He’s a future monster of the game,” Lineker told L’Equipe. “His future is huge.
“His performance in the semi-final of the World Cup, for a player so young, was just incredible. His speed, his technique, his charm and his ability to play the right ball at the right time are incredible.
“He’s got incredible maturity and is one of the best young players I’ve ever seen.
“He’s got everything to become the next Cristiano Ronaldo.
“Look, in fact he reminds me of the Brazilian Ronaldo. He’s got the same power, the same explosivity, same speed, same brilliant, and everything’s done at an incredible tempo that gives the impression that it is all so easy. He seems unaffected by pressure.”
Lineker was asked to compare Mbappe with Wayne Rooney and Michael Owen, who both exploded onto the international scene with England at World Cups.
“Both were able to do incredible things, in particular, Michael Owen in the quarter-final of the 1998 World Cup against Argentina [when he scored a memorable solo goal], but they were human,” the former Barcelona striker commented.
Mbappe found the net twice against Argentina in the last 16 but otherwise has not scored at the competition. Nevertheless, he already has seven international strikes to his credit in only 21 appearances, having made his debut against in a victory over Luxembourg in 2017.
The young attacker is the world’s second most expensive player, having completed a move from Monaco to Paris Saint-Germain for €160 million (£141m/$187m), which was made permanent this summer after a campaign that was technically spent on loan.
Having captured the domestic treble in France, the World Cup final could represent his first truly stellar silverware.