Almost everyone is talking about Kylian Mbappe, and most of it has nothing to do with his transfer future for once.
The World Cup winner, Paris-Saint Germain megastar, and transfer rumor mill mainstay scored three goals in a tour-de-force performance at Barcelona on Tuesday.
PSG took a 4-1 lead back to France after one leg of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie despite having neither Neymar nor Angel Di Maria in the lineup.
Barcelona forward and French countryman Antoine Griezmann delivered big praise for Mbappe after the game.
“Kylian Mbappe had a great night,” Griezmann said. “PSG has a great star for the future, who will be at the level of Leo Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.”
What’s crazy is that he’s not doing what Messi and Ronaldo did in the thick of their primes, but in terms of his young years versus the tail ends of their primes? There already. The 22-year-old has 21 goals and nine assists in 29 matches this season. He’s been indispensable. In the five games he’s missed, PSG has two wins and three losses.
Mbappe is averaging a goal contribution per Champions League game, and that’s including the season with Monaco that saw him debut in the competition at 17 years old.
He now has 24 goals and 17 assists in 41 matches. That’s insane.
Given four teams have played one more match than the rest, but Mbappe is among the UCL leaders in dribbles completed (first), goals (t-5th), shots (2nd), big chances created (1st), and key passes (t-13th).
Over the past three UCL campaigns, here are the numbers for Mbappe, Ronaldo, and Messi.
Messi in UCL, 2018-19 to present
Goals: 19 (five penalties)
Shots per game: ~4.43
Passing percentage: ~84.9
Ronaldo in UCL, 2018-19 to present
Goals: 14 (four penalties)
Shots per game: ~4.87
Passing percentage: ~83.1
Mbappe in UCL, 2018-19 to present
Goals: 14 (one penalty)
Shots per game: ~3.6
Passing percentage: ~81.7