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Kylian Mbappe proves he can handle the hype

Friday 29th September 2017
There may not be an 18-year-old so engulfed by hype as Kylian Mbappe. Against Bayern, the PSG starlet proved he can handle it. 

In a phenomenal performance, bursting with searing pace, flavoursome touches, and sumptuous passes, the teenager single-handedly placed Carlo Ancelotti on gardening leave.

When Paris Saint-Germain signed Neymar for a world-record £200 million, it was generally assumed the club had found its attacking cornerstone. You know the old adage.

Every top club has such a player. The elite have at least two. Barcelona had three, including Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, until Neymar left. While the Brazilian has already showcased an almighty ability to shoulder expectations of greatness, PSG decided that it wanted someone who could shoulder half the load.

Kylian Mbappe was signed on a permanent deal disguised as a loan. The jury remains out on whether the subterfuge unfairly circumvents Financial Fair Play. Nevertheless, the erstwhile Monaco starlet has joined up with Neymar and a less-than-thrilled Edinson Cavani to create one of the deadliest front threes in European football.
Against Bayern Munich in the Champions League, the three lived up to their potential. They carved through the Bavarian's defence. Neymar notched a goal and an assist, Cavani a goal, and Mbappe an assist, although the youngster played a major part in Neymar's goal, as well.

The hype surrounding the trio has been, shall we say, overinflated. As is ever the case with such illustrious, unheralded transfer fees, wages, and personalities, the media has centred on praising the panache of the PSG attack. They have put the two newcomers, expectation and anticipation greater than for any other team in the world.

For Cavani and Neymar, two schooled, intelligent, established, experienced footballers who have both played for several clubs around the world, such expectation is normal. In fact, it would be surprising if it did not exist.

For Mbappe, however, such expectation is alien. An 18-year-old who has moved to a new club for the first time in his career, after just one season of first-team football, is not supposed to cope with a spotlight the intensity of which can be found only in major cosmopolitan centres like London, Madrid, Barcelona, or Paris. Yet, somehow, the pressure appears non-existent to the precocious talent.

Despite his elders providing the finishing, Mbappe was the most impressive Parisienne on this European night. He combined his notorious speed with a deft touch, incisive vision, and decisiveness beyond his years. Mbappe unlocked the Bayern defence with daring regularity. His patience in waiting for the right pass is exceedingly rare for a teenager. The feigned shot and roll of the ball, eventually resulting in Neymar's goal, humiliated David Alaba, one of the world's most accomplished defenders, and left him for dead. It was simply magnificent.
This was a performance from the very top drawer. After the game, Marco Verratti was effusive: "We're lucky to have him here."

Rio Ferdinand, in his own effervescent way, proclaimed Mbappe's play "is illegal... it's too much."

Gary Lineker?

Their reactions are not unfounded. They've been vindicated by the audacious Frenchman's talent.

Kylian Mbappe can handle the hype. Kylian Mbappe is handling the hype. It is simply exciting to see where this 18-year-old will go next.
Andrew Dowdeswell

A sport obsessed 20 something who just really wants Arsenal to finally win the league. Please Wenger, what the hell happened to you?!


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