World Cup: Kylian Mbappe - 5 things you need to know about the France star who has the world at his feet

Kylian Mbappe celebrating after scoring a goal for France against Argentina during their World Cup match on June 30, 2018.
Kylian Mbappe celebrating after scoring a goal for France against Argentina during their World Cup match on June 30, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - If Kylian Mbappe keeps turning on the afterburners in Russia, "Flash" will be a more appropriate nickname for the Paris Saint-Germain starlet, who has been dubbed "Donatello" by his clubmates for a more than passing resemblance to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle character.

Mbappe's name entered the public consciousness on Saturday (June 30) when his direct running and clinical finishing tore apart Argentina in France's 4-3 victory, but to the footballing world, it was just another confirmation as to why the 19-year-old is arguably considered to be the hottest prospect in the game today.

The Straits Times looks at five things you need to know about the French forward.

1) Blistering pace

Mbappe is not just quick, he is frighteningly fast. In the modern game, pace is the one thing that puts the fear of God into defenders and Mbappe has oodles of it in his tank.

Cristiano Ronaldo had previously recorded the fastest top speed of 34kmh during Portugal's 3-3 draw with Spain, but he now trails Mbappe after that run which led to France's opener.

Mbappe covered 70m in seven seconds, with his top speed clocking at 38kmh as he left the opposition in his wake and Marcos Rojo could only bundle him over in the box in their desperation to stop him.

To put things into perspective, retired Jamaican sprinting legend and the world's fastest man Usain Bolt has a top speed of 44.72kmh.

It was a remarkable display of pace and power that was reminiscent of former France great Thierry Henry in his pomp, and another chilling reminder that there is no catching Mbappe if given the space to run into.

 

2) Second-most expensive player in history

At €180 million (S$287 million), Mbappe is the costliest teenage footballer and the second-most expensive player in history after clubmate Neymar of Brazil. The Paris-born striker joined PSG on a season-long loan from Monaco last term, with a compulsory purchase clause inserted into the deal.

He scored 21 goals in all competitions in his debut season for PSG, who won the domestic treble of the Ligue 1 title, French Cup and French League Cup.

If France do go on to lift their second World Cup, Mbappe's transfer fee may very well be a bargain, with his stock rising with every game.

3) On par with Pele

Mbappe's brace against Argentina means he already shares one record with Brazil great Pele despite his tender age.

He became the first teenager to score more than once in a World Cup game since Pele's double in the 1958 World Cup final against Sweden, but that's not the only mark Mbappe has set in his burgeoning career.

Mbappe is the second-youngest player to have been capped by Les Bleus and after opening his international account against the Netherlands on Aug 31, 2017, became the his country's youngest scorer for 54 years after Georges Lech.

And the records have kept falling in Russia. Mbappe is the youngest player to score two goals at a World Cup since Michael Owen at France 1998 and he is France's youngest goalscorer at a Finals after netting versus Peru in their Group C game.

Only three other teenagers have scored at a World Cup - Lionel Messi in 2006, Julian Green in 2014 and Pele in 1958. Exalted company indeed.

4) Trademark celebration

Mbappe's crossed-arms pose after scoring has become his trademark and in an interview with French daily L'Equipe, he revealed the raison d'etre behind it - a stinging loss to his younger sibling while playing the Fifa football video game!

"In fact, it was not me who came up with it. It was my brother (Ethan) when I played with him on the Playstation," he said.

Good-natured ribbing runs in the Mbappe family, but the two siblings have an exceptionally close relationship - Kylian brought then 11-year-old Ethan onto the pitch as a mascot during the home leg of Monaco's Champions League semi-final against Juventus when he was still at the principality side.

5) A giving heart

He might be a multi-millionaire, with fame and fortune beyond his wildest dreams, but Mbappe has not let that go to his head, despite having grown up in Bondy, a deprived northern suburb of France's capital.

According to ESPN, Mbappe - who is a patron of the Premiers de Cordee, a charity which helps children with disabilities play sport - will donate his World Cup bonus to the association.

Mbappe will reportedly give away around €20,000 per match to Premiers.

Sebastien Ruffin, director general of the charity, told French daily Le Parisien: "The player's entourage and his family made us aware of his gesture a few days ago. We do not want to go any further than that, because the bonus will only be paid if France reach the quarter-finals.

"In any case, we are touched by Kylian's gesture. This is something very personal - we never ask for any financial help from our ambassadors."

A class act, both on and off the pitch.