[OP-ED]: Mbappé: present of Monaco and future of France
No European soccer player has improved in one year as much as French forward Kylian Mbappé (l), who was born in Paris less than 20 years ago. The young striker has led Monaco to its best season ever.
Against all odds, the club from the Princedom surprised powerhouse Paris Saint-Germain and ended its streak as France’s league champion which started in 2013. In the Champions League the Monacans have also been a very pleasant surprise, surpassing the expectations generated at the start of the tournament. Monaco eliminated in the quarterfinals England’s Manchester City, which was one of the favorites to win it all, and played very well but lost in the semifinal round against Italy’s perennial champion Juventus.
There is no doubt the man behind Monaco’s successes is Portuguese coach, born in Venezuela, Lenardo Jardim, who has built slowly a team since signing with the club in 2014. But on the field the irruption of Mbappé has also been very important. The striker has scored 15 goals in the French league and six in the Champions League, one more than Colombian standout forward Radamel Falcao, who also plays for the Monacans.
Mbappé’s explosion has been very fast, but not unexpected. The striker who was born on December the 20th of 1988 showed his great speed and ability to score in the Under-19 European Cup held in Germany in 2016. Monaco’s striker led France to the championship, scoring five goals in five contests. The French dominance was so big, that the young Les Bleus erased Team Italy in the final game, winning 4-0 in one of the most lopsided championship outings in the history of the tournament.
For the top French squad, Mbappé’s participation is also a must. Team France played well at the recent Euro-Cup held at its own soil, but failed to claim the title because of a lack of offensive production. The Frenchmen reached the final game, but were unable to score in 120 minutes, losing to Portugal in overtime, 1-0. There is no doubt the young striker born in Paris should be already included as one of the top assets that coach Didier Deschamps has to cope with the offensive struggles Les Bleus have.
Thrilled by the recent conquest of the league title, thanks to this week’s win over Saint-Étienne, 2-0, Monaco’s fans are enjoy the moment, without even thinking what tomorrow will bring. People in the Princedom sense Mbappé will not stay with them for long as European soccer powerhouses, mainly in Spain and the United Kingdom, are already bidding to sign him.
In France, though, the focus is completely different. They know that, regardless which club he plays for, the young striker is destined to lead their national team offense for many years. Les Bleus have not won the World Cup since 1998 when they hosted the world’s most important international tournament. Dreaming with lifting again FIFA’s Cup 20 years after in Russia 2018 is feasible, especially if the squad includes a forward with the great scoring capability young Mbappé possesses.