Having lost the penalty shootout after a thrilling comeback against Argentina in the World Cup final on Sunday, France were forced to hand the greatest trophy in football over to their opponents, and there’s no way to hide the fact that such moments hurt. That goes especially for Kylian Mbappe, the man behind that comeback, who put away two penalties and a brilliantly hit volley to get his team back level after a rather disappointing team performance in the earlier stages of the game.
Speaking before the tournament, the Paris Saint-Germain made an interesting comparison, claiming that football is more developed in Europe than in South America due to the presence of a number of top-quality sides, whereas in South America, Brazil and Argentina notably stand out from the rest. His words obviously stirred up some understandably critical reactions.
Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez saw fit to carry a doll with Mbappe’s face on it through Buenos Aires during his team’s celebrations in front of millions of people. His actions could have been some kind of a twisted answer to Mbappe, but even so, what he did was completely out of order. If the countries of South America had any right to be angry at Mbappe for expressing his views before the World Cup, Argentina and Brazil, the two teams the young Frenchman obviously sees miles above the rest, would not be among them.
Instead of celebrating with his team, fans and the whole nation, what Martinez actually did was mock a player who has that same trophy on his CV since he was 19, on top of other accolades the Aston Villa man probably won’t even see, a player who hit the back of the Aston Villa goalkeeper’s net three times in that final and once again in the shootout. A player who won the Golden Boot in at the World Cup, scoring a total of eight goals in seven matches.
The media won’t let Mbappe move on from this too quickly. They’ll surely ask him about Martinez’s unsportsmanlike behaviour in every interview in the near future, but the fact is, he doesn’t need to answer any such questions. Everything around this childish attempt of a dig is clear.
The truth is, Mbappe shouldn’t be too unhappy with what he and his teammates have done in Qatar. After all, he has already won a World Cup, so unlike Messi, he won’t have to sweat over winning it late to complete his collection. Even if he feels he still needs to win it again, there’s plenty of time for that. Even the legendary Pele thinks so.
Keep your head up, Kylian! Tomorrow is the first day of a new journey,.
— Pelé (@Pele)
Mbappe has just turned 24, and there should be at least two more World Cups with him in the France ranks. He already has 12 World Cup goals to his name, which means he’s tied with Pele in fifth place in the all-time list. Barring any serious injury, there is no reason not to expect him to overtake current record holder Miroslav Klose and his tally of 16. It looks likely to happen at the next time of asking already.
At such a young age, Mbappe has already made a huge impact in the game, but there is a strong feeling that we’re yet to see the best from the electric PSG attacker.
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