Can Kylian Mbappe fulfil his potential in Ligue 1?
Teenage Prospect to Worldwide Superstar
Little over three years ago, Kylian Mbappe was simply another young player who held hopes and dreams of one day making it to the very top, scoring goals for both club and country in the biggest of matches.
Fast forward three years and the twenty-year-old is a World Cup winner, the second most expensive footballer in the world and a two time Ligue 1 champion with fans around the globe expecting him to be the heir to Lionel Messi’s and Cristiano Ronaldo’s throne as the best player on Earth.
Ligue 1 is often mocked for its supposed poor standards of football, particularly when teams are obliterated by Paris Saint-Germain week in-week out, and with the Qatari owned side sitting top of the league standings by ten points with two games in hand, it is difficult to argue against the fact that if Mbappe really wants to be remembered as one of the greats, he will need to challenge himself further.
It does beg the question, will Mbappe need to look elsewhere in order to live up to expectations by perhaps moving to one of the Spanish giants or maybe even the Premier League?
Is a Move Necessary?
Winning the World Cup is the ultimate goal for every footballer and scoring in the final of the competition automatically cements their place as a hero in their home nation. Kylian Mbappe has done both at nineteen years of age.
Neither Messi nor Cristiano Ronaldo can boast victory in football’s greatest competition, in fact, it could be argued that both players would trade their Ballon d’Or awards for a World Cup winners medal such is the notoriety surrounding the prize and those who have earned it.
There have been question marks surrounding Messi’s deservedness of being hailed as the best individual player on the planet due to him failing to come out victorious in the World Cup, and despite Ronaldo having bagged a winners medal in Euro 2016 it does not hold the same status as the World Cup. Already this is a huge weight off the back of Mbappe’s young shoulders in his bid to fulfil his potential.
If anything, Mbappe will have to do the reverse of what the greats before him have done and prove himself in club competition having already been successful with France, and supporters will instead anticipate him to seal victory in the Champions League and take home silverware each year domestically, which surely cannot be completed if the standard of football in Ligue 1 remains the same in the coming years.
The Frenchman is the top scorer in Ligue 1 for his club with eighteen goals and has found the back of the net in the Champions League on four occasions up to now, which is a total of twenty-two goals in just twenty-four appearances, statistics that any top striker would be overjoyed with.
Could he do it when playing the likes of Sevilla, Atletico Madrid and Valencia each season, rather than an undoubtedly poorer standard against Montpellier, Strasbourg or Lille? There is no disrespect in saying that the latter three teams lack the quality possessed by the former trio, the fact that Spanish teams have dominated in Europe for so long speaks for itself.
Despite Marseille making it to the Europa League Final last season, they were the first French side to qualify for a European final since 2004, where again Marseille were beaten in the UEFA Cup at the last hurdle.
Even for PSG it has been a struggle to go far versus Europe’s elite, with the side not making it past the quarter final stage of the Champions League, or European Cup as it was then known, since 1994/1995, with many pundits pointing the blame towards the lack of competition fighting against PSG for league titles and cups in France.
Become a Ligue 1 Legend, or the Greatest of All?
It all comes down to one question, does Mbappe want to stay in his homeland and acquire legendary status in his nation’s domestic league, or attempt to attain trophies elsewhere and garner attention from fans around the globe by showcasing his talent against the very best, just as Messi and Ronaldo have?
Realistically, he will find it hard to fulfil his absolute potential if he only plays against the elite every few weeks or months in the Champions League, and takes on lesser quality opposition most of the time.
Either a move to one of the huge Spanish clubs is likely required as Ligue 1 does not appear to be gathering top players with each passing transfer window unless they’re making their way to PSG, or maybe a change of destination to a Manchester side would be of benefit to him.
Only the man himself will know what he desires, although his admiration for Cristiano Ronaldo during his years at Real Madrid is well documented and he may well look to replicate what the Portuguese superstar has achieved with the Galacticos, or more.