PSG: Pochettino opens up on Mbappe plans
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Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe is the man to ‘take the throne’ from Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi after his stunning Champions League hat-trick against Barcelona. That’s the view of Rio Ferdinand, who believes the Frenchman is out of his own in terms of the biggest talents in the game.
The World Cup winner has long been bracketed with messrs Ronaldo and Messi as one of the best players in world football.
But his scintillating display at the Camp Nou has led many to believe Mbappe has reached the pinnacle of the game already.
PSG conceded first against Barca, only for the forward to take the game by the scruff of the neck, scoring either side of half-time, before completing his treble in the closing minutes.
The 4-1 win means last year’s runners-up have more than one foot in the last eight of this season’s competition, with many labelling them as the outright favourites to go one better.
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And following his exploits a remarkable stat that shows just how quickly Mbappe has ascended to the top of the sport.
Opta Joe author and stats expert Duncan Alexander posted after the game: “Cristiano Ronaldo was five days older than Kylian Mbappe is today when he scored his first CL goal. Mbappe is on 24 as it stands.”
Mbappe has a long way to go until he can eclipse the Portuguse superstar’s total goals record in the competition, trailing by 110 at present.
But speaking after the game, footballers both active and retired came out in their admiration at the exploits of the PSG star.
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Barca forward and France international Antoine Griezmann said: “Kylian Mbappe had a great night. PSG has a great star for the future, who will be at the level of Leo Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.”
Meanwhile, ex-Manchester United defender Ferdinand claimed: “This guys is the guy who is going to take over the throne from Messi and Ronaldo when they’re done with it.
“He’s gone and given a statement. He’s said ‘This is men now. I’m the man for this big stage’.
“People forget he’s 22 years old, given he’s won the World Cup, what he’s done in French league , in the Champions League he’s been immense.
“I just feel he’s the guy now who’s going to take that throne, take the crown and be there. He’s standing alone at the moment and it’s for everybody to catch up with him.”
After the win, PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino lifted the lid on a conversation with Mbappe that showed the level of confidence he is currently playing with.
“Confidence always has to be absolute and he felt calm [before the game]. He asked me yesterday in training: ‘How many times have you won at Camp Nou?’ I told him once.
“He answered: ‘Tomorrow, it will be twice.’ That’s why he’s a top player.”
Mbappe’s contract with PSG is set to expire at the end of next season, with the likes of Real Madrid and Liverpool monitoring his situation.
On his plans, the striker added : “It would be stupid to decide my future on a single match.
“The truth is that it is about reflecting for the long term. I have always said that I am happy here. This sort of match makes me even happier.”
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