AS Monaco are enjoying a phenomenal year in Ligue 1. They lead champions Paris Saint-Germain by three points and have scored an outstanding 82 goals in 28 games.
The performances of Radamel Falcao, Bernardo Silva and Fabinho have been well-documented, yet, the sensation of coach Leonardo Jardim’s campaign is an 18-year-old forward by the name of Kylian Mbappé.
Another two goals on Sunday as ASM beat FC Nantes 4-0 took him to nine for the season and only heightened the hype around the young forward.
— sudeepreddy (@sudeepreddy350) March 6, 2017
“He is progressing. He is always decisive,” said Portuguese coach Leonardo Jardim when asked about the young star. “The first half was not easy. The first 40 minutes were balanced with great intensity. The third goal killed the game. ”
Described as the ‘next Thierry Henry’ and a transfer target for Arsenal and every other top club around Europe, he has captured everyone’s imagination this season, proving he was no fluke with his wonderful finish against Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League.
“I’ve met Mbappé and he’s a nice lad with a good head on his shoulders,” Henry said about Mbappé. “He is very respectful and quite quiet. But give him the ball and he talks and he isn’t very nice anymore!”
“He is determined and never gives up. He is the talk of the town and has so much talent. He has skills, goals, assists. He can do what he wants with the ball.”
“I know people have called him ‘the new Thierry Henry’ but I don’t like those tags. He needs to be him and just be the best he can be.”
Mbappé arrived on the scene last season, scoring against ES Troyes AC and becoming Monaco’s youngest-ever goal scorer – beating Henry’s record. The comparisons with the Arsenal legend haven’t stopped there and it is more than tabloid sensationalism, but how does Mbappé match up against Henry at the same stage of his career?
Mbappé versus Henry
In the future Arsenal’s forward’s first full season in the French top flight, back in 1995/96, he started just five times, and played 624 minutes in 18 appearances.
Also 18 years old, he scored three times – scoring 0.43 goals per 90 minutes.
This season, in Ligue 1, Mbappé has started nine games so far, played 805 minutes and averages 1 goal per 90 minutes. An incredible return.
Even in Henry’s second season, playing 36 times, he scored nine goals – although it must be said, Henry was more of a wide forward, rather than the striker that the current Monaco man has shown to be this term.
Both have followed the same path. Mbappé started as a winger and played that role in the summer as France won the 2016 Under-19 European Championships.
Now, playing upfront in Monaco’s 4-4-2, it uses all his talents as a wide player, but enhances his ability as a forward.
Best of the rest in Ligue 1
Henry is not the only promising forward to cut his teeth in Ligue 1. Recently, the likes of Divock Origi and Anthony Martial have made the jump to the Premier League, but even they couldn’t match up against Mbappé in their first full seasons.
Origi, before his transfer to Liverpool, started 12 games for Lille and scored five times. In 1285 minutes, that gives him 0.35 goals per 90 minutes.
Martial had a superb season before Manchester United spent an initial €50million on the teenager.
The France international finished the season with eight goals in 12 games, that was enough to catch United’s eye and take him to Old Trafford.
In 19 starts, he scored nine league goals overall. Playing 1823 minutes, that averages at 0.49 goals per 90 minutes – that’s just half the return of the current Monaco teenager, plus, Martial was a year older.
Ligue 1’s current best
Without doubt, one of the hottest strikers in Ligue 1 this season in Alexandre Lacazette. Now 25 years old, he has scored over 20 league goals in his last three campaigns.
Like the Monaco man, they started on the wing and developing into a centre-forward.
However, in Lacazette’s first season, he scored just five goals in 15 starts – due to the position. He played a total of 1402 minutes, that’s 0.32 goals per 90 minutes.
Mbappé’s hype is real
It’s easy to get excited about the career the 18-year-old, the same happened when Djibril Cissé burst onto the scene with AJ Auxerre.
Eight goals in his first campaign, came in 1405 minutes and 14 starts, but still, not able to match up to the new superstar with 0.57 goals per 90 minutes.
The only player to match up close to the 18-year-old is another former Monaco great, David Trezeguet.
A legend in the principality and Juventus, the man who score the winning goal for France at Euro 2000.
— Betarena (@betarenasocial) July 18, 2016
During the 1996/97 campaign, the first full season of his career, Trezegoal scored 18 goals in 20 starts.
He played 1834 minutes and enjoyed a sensational season, with 0.98 goals per 90 minutes. That is the closest any of the aforementioned forwards come to matching Mbappé, however Trezeguet was 20 years old.
It all bodes well for the teenager currently ripping apart Ligue 1 defences, the only hope is now that he can do on to have the same type of career as Henry or Trezeguet. They might not be able to match up to Mbappé’s first full season, but he will be dreaming of going all the way and matching up over the next 10 years.
Time is the biggest factor of them all, but the French Under-19 international has time on his side.