Back in 2016-17, the world started to take notice of a Monaco youngster by the name of Kylian Mbappé Lottin.
Raw natural ability and frightening pace were the two standout attributes, but Mbappé has added plenty more strings to his bow, transforming himself into a complete attacking weapon.
23 years old today, Mbappé seems to stand at a crossroads. Real Madrid has been constantly mooted as his next destination but PSG will dig their heels in to try and convince the planet's most valuable footballer to commit his future to them and their ambitious project. Before all of that, an even younger Mbappé was starting to make waves at the UEFA U19 European Championships back in 2016. Those who witnessed his talents must surely have known that this was no ordinary footballer, one who has realistic designs on winning more than one Ballon d'Or in his career.
Mbappé was a menace in the 2016-2017 Champions League round of 16, scoring in both legs against Manchester City as the Principality side advanced on away goals after the sides ended 6-6 on aggregate. He was the jewel in the crown of a thrilling young side that broke up to the benefit of a handful of other elite European clubs. Just look at his first-ever Champions League goal:
🗓 Mbappé's calendar year 2021 (PSG & France combined)
- 67 matches
- 51 goals
- 22 assists
His tally of 51 goals puts Mbappé in a rarified company. Only he and Robert Lewandowski (69) have over half a century of goals in 2021. Mbappé also has 22 assists in this period, taking his direct goal contributions tally to 73, an average of 1.09 direct goal contributions per game. What a year it's been for the Frenchman, who's ignoring transfer speculation and finding the form of his life.
Kylian Mbappe has been unreal in 2021 pic.twitter.com/qHZqPhxgoe— ّ (@FtblProd) December 18, 2021
Two more goals for PSG last night takes Mbappé's 2021-22 campaign tally to 14 goals & 14 assists in 24 games across all competitions at club level. For mere mortals, this seems to surely be an unsustainable strike rate but Mbappe is not normal. He's not merely just a scorer of goals but also a top-class creator:
🅰️ 2021-22: Most assists in Europe’s top five leagues
- 🇩🇪 13 - Thomas Muller
- 🇪🇬 9 - Mo Salah
- 🇩🇪 8 - Florian Wirtz
- 🇫🇷 8 - Kylian Mbappé
- 🏴 8 - Trent Alexander-Arnold
🏆 Kylian Mbappé in the UCL
While he was still only 22, Mbappé could already boast a higher career tally of Champions League goals than the likes of Samuel Eto'o, Kaká and Wayne Rooney. All legends in their own right, Mbappé seems hell-bent on writing his own legacy in Europe's premier club competition.
There has been heartbreak for Mbappé too, though. Ending up as a losing finalist in the 2019-20 Champions League against Bayern Munich would have been a bitter pill to swallow, but a player of Mbappé's calibre belongs at that level and a European Cup triumph will surely come, sooner or later.
📈 Selected all-time UCL goal tallies
- 31* 🇫🇷 Kylian Mbappé
- 30 🇨🇲 Samuel Eto’o
- 30 🇧🇷 Kaká
- 30 🏴 Wayne Rooney
- 29 🇫🇷 Antoine Griezmann
- 27* 🇺🇾 Luis Suárez
- 25 🇧🇦 Edin Džeko
- 25 🇳🇱 Robin Van Persie
- 25 🇦🇷 Hernán Crespo
He has now been directly involved in 54 Champions League goals since debuting in 2016-17 with 31 goals & 20 assists in 51 appearances. That is a simply absurd output against notoriously stubborn defences.
🔥 Mbappe defines Big Match Temperament
Kylian Mbappé is a big game player who's not shy to cause a stir on Europe's grandest stages. He's now scored in the Champions League on the following grounds:
- 🌃 Man City's Etihad Stadium
- 😈 Man United's Old Trafford
- 🔴 Liverpool's Anfield
- ⚫️ Juventus' Allianz Stadium
- 🏆 Bayern's Allianz Arena
- 🟡 Dortmund's Signal Iduna Park
- ⚪️ Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu
- 😳 A hat-trick at Barcelona's iconic Camp Nou
That's not to mention his strike in the 2018 World Cup final.
🇫🇷 Mbappé in Ligue 1
Kylian Mbappé has scored 100 goals in 124 Ligue 1 appearances for PSG. He is the youngest player to reach a century of goals with the same top-flight team (22 years & 357 days) since Opta started recording this data in 1950-51).
📊 Mbappé by the numbers
- First teenager to score in a WC final since Pelé in 1958
- World Cup winner in 2018
- World Cup YPOTT in 2018
- Golden Boy in 2017
- 2x World XI
- 4x Ligue 1 winner
- 3x Ligue 1 Young Player of the year
- 2x French Player of the Year
- 2x Ligue 1 Player of the year
- 1x Trophée Kopa
- 1x Nations League winner
It feels almost inevitable that this list of landmarks and achievements will grow and grow as Kylian Mbappé Lottin moves through the gears and gallops to greatness. Happy birthday young man.