Kylian Mbappé determined to stay grounded despite Real Madrid leading the race for his signature

Luke Brown
The Independent
There are few players in Europe as exciting as Mbappé: Getty
There are few players in Europe as exciting as Mbappé: Getty

Monaco’s 18-year-old striker Kylian Mbappé is so good that even the supporters of teams he scores against cannot help but marvel at his talents.

Fresh from helping to dump Manchester City out of the Champions League last week, Mbappé delivered yet another sensational performance this weekend, as his brace fired Monaco to a 3-0 Ligue 1 win against Caen.

Sat 16th in the table and balanced just four points above the relegation zone, Caen are a team in danger and their supporters would have been forgiven for jeering the preciously talented Mbappé, who single-handedly tormented their team all afternoon. Not only did he score twice, but he also won a penalty.

Instead, Caen's supporters clapped. As the teenager was withdrawn late into the match at the Stade Michel d'Ornano, it was not only Monaco’s hardy band of travelling supporters that rose to their feet. Instead the entire stadium rose in unison to give the player a standing ovation as he walked off the pitch, having delivered one of the finest performances of his career to date.

Mbappé, who has now scored nine of Monaco's last 18 league goals, took his personal tally to 12 league goals this season with the composure of a seasoned striker. It is hard to believe this is his first full season in professional football.

The forward put Monaco in front in the 13th minute after making the most of a long ball from defender Jemerson. Controlling the ball with a fine first touch, he combined well with Valere Germain for a one-two, evading two defenders before unleashing a left-footed shot past the helpless Caen goalkeeper Remi Vercoutre.

Mbappé speed was on display after the interval when he burst down the left flank and won a penalty which Fabinho converted, before he completed his brace with nine minutes remaining, heading home Bernardo Silva's inch-perfect cross.

Naturally, such virtuoso performances aren’t going unnoticed.

Mbappé was applauded by all corners of the ground (Getty)
Mbappé was applauded by all corners of the ground (Getty)

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger recently said he could see similarities between Mbappé and Henry, who also played for Monaco early in his career.

And the teeneger’s talent has also alerted Real Madrid, whose coach Zinedine Zidane said this week that the Spanish giants tried to lure him to the Santiago Bernabéu before he signed with Monaco. Independent Sport also understands that Manchester United have been closely monitoring the youngster.

It is therefore fortunate for high-flying Monaco that – to date – Mbappé’s mentality has almost proved as impressive as his composure in front of goal. The striker played down speculation linking him with a move to the Premier League after this weekend’s double, as well as downplaying the comparisons the press have been making with Henry.

The teenager has been compared to former Monaco forward Henry (Getty)
The teenager has been compared to former Monaco forward Henry (Getty)

"I would not say that what I do is extraordinary," Mbappé modestly told the French press.

"I would just say that I am able to do what I know best. I would not say it's extraordinary.

"Extraordinary is a player who can score 60 goals. There are not a lot. Otherwise I think we would overuse the term. I would not say it's amazing but I'm on a good run."

Mbappe has been called up to the France squad for the first time (AFP/Getty)
Mbappe has been called up to the France squad for the first time (AFP/Getty)

He also had a rather brutal message for the English media.

"Sorry, but I do not look at what the English press say,” he said, no doubt to the delight of the assembled French journalists. “I remain very calm about the attention I get.

"I get up in the morning and I go to practice like everyone else. I try to work to improve myself every day and I try to do on the pitch what I do during the training sessions."

He may be paying little attention to the press – but the press, not to mention every elite club across Europe, is paying plenty of attention to him. And he will be thrust even further into the spotlight when he makes his senior France debut, having been included in Didier Deschamp's squad for a World Cup qualifier in Luxembourg and a friendly against Spain.

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