Fresh from making history for France in the World Cup, Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappé has set his sights on Europe’s elite competition – the Champions League – once more.
The rise and rise of the 19-year-old shows no signs of relenting ahead of the French champions’ opener against Liverpool on Tuesday.
The mouth-watering clash will be shown exclusively live on BT Sport 2, BT Sport 4K UHD and online from 7pm and Mbappé is one of the main A-list attractions.
The recipient of FIFA’s Best Young Player award at the World Cup made his debut for Monaco in the 2015/2016 campaign, becoming the club’s youngest ever first-team player aged 16 years and 347 days – breaking Thierry Henry’s 21-year-old record.
Mbappé burst on to the Champions League scene the following season, scoring his first goal in Europe against Manchester City during a 5-3 defeat in a round of 16 fixture at the Etihad.
An inspired Mbappé doubled his tally against Pep Guardiola’s men in the second leg, poking home from close range in a 3-1 victory.
Monaco ultimately progressed through to the quarter-finals at the expense of City by virtue of the away goals rule.
Premier League exports Fabinho and Tiémoué Bakayoko were also on the scoresheet for the talented French outfit, who also included Benjamin Mendy, Bernardo Silva and Joao Moutinho among their ranks.
The prodigious talent continued his scintillating European form against Borussia Dortmund in the quarter-final, scoring three times over the course of the two legs.
He scored again in the last-four second-leg tie against Juventus – but the would-be French champions were comfortably beaten by the Italian giants.
Mbappé ended the season with 26 goals from 44 matches in all competitions in Monaco’s title-winning campaign.
He played 536 minutes of Champions League football, scoring six goals in six starts, converting 35.3 per cent of his attempts.
His rapid development alerted the world’s biggest clubs and it was announced in August 2017 that domestic rivals Paris Saint-Germain had won the battle for the teenager’s signature.
He joined the mass exodus of talent from the principality, linking up with PSG on an initial loan deal, before signing on a permanent basis for a reported €180 million this summer.
The Frenchman, who last season became the first teenager to score ten Champions League goals, bagged his first for the Parisians in a 5-0 victory at Celtic Park.
He also starred against Bayern Munich, forming a fledgling partnership with Edinson Cavani and Neymar.
Speaking to BT Sport after Mbappé’s record-breaking goal, Paul Scholes lavished praise on the youngster, saying: “He’s the best young player right now. It won’t take him long to be the best player in the world.”
The deep-pocketed Parisians were beaten by eventual winners Real Madrid, but nothing could dim the rise of European’s football’s brightest star.
Mbappé has already scored four goals in eight appearances in the Champions League for the runaway French champions.
He has also dovetailed seamlessly with South American strike partners Cavani and Neymar, providing three assists and creating 14 chances in the formative stages of his European journey.
He has shown no signs of fatigue after his World Cup exploits, scoring four goals and assisting two for the French table-toppers in Ligue 1.
Jürgen Klopp will be wary that Mbappé carries this momentum into their clash at Anfield and given his pedigree in Europe’s elite competition, Liverpool’s inexperienced full-backs will have to turn in a performance far greater than their years.
Mbappé scored his tenth Champions League goal in his 15th appearance in the competition – only ten players have reached ten goals in fewer appearances.
He has also scored in nine of his 17 Champions League games. Of players to have made 15 appearance or more, only George Weah (63%) and Ruud van Nistelrooy (58%) have scored in a higher proportion than the Frenchman (53%).
The serene Mbappé proved his calibre on the greatest stage of them all this summer in Russia as his performances propelled France to World Cup glory, a feat achieved only once before – five months prior to his birth in 1998.
Now he has the chance to shift the perception of PSG as flat-track bullies and European failures to contenders who merit a spot in the elite echelons of European football.
And based on what he’s already accomplished, who would bet against him guiding them to a first ever Champions League crown?