As Manchester City prepares this week for a meeting with AS Monaco in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16, the Blues will no doubt be drawing up plans in the hopes of containing a teenage sensation: French striker Kylian Mbappé.
The 18-year-old, who has been compared to Thierry Henry, has seven goals and five assists in 18 Ligue 1 appearances this season.
While he’s still young, and easing into a regular role with Monaco’s first team, he’s created a lot of buzz—and drawn rumoured interest from other clubs—for his electric style of play.
Here’s a closer look at the teenager.
As a six-year-old, Mbappé joined AS Bondy, where his father was a coach. (Mbappé’s athletic roots don’t just come from his father: his mother, Fayza, is a former handball player). He eventually headed to the famuous Clairefontaine soccer academy, where his older half-brother, Jires Kembo-Ekoko, also trained as a youngster.
Mbappé played his Ligue 1 game on Dec. 2, 2015 as a 16-year-old. He is Monaco’s youngest ever player to debut for the first team (a record previously held by Henry). Mbappé also became the youngest player to score for the senior team when he netted his first goal on Feb. 20, 2016.
The five-foot-ten Bondy native has impressed—and continued to improve—since making his senior team debut in 2015. So far this year he’s already scored two hat tricks. The first came in a League Cup match, while the second came on Feb. 11, when Monaco crushed Metz 5–0.
Monaco remains the most thrilling-to-watch side in Ligue 1 this year, and Mbappé is one of the reasons why: he has pace, he has composure on the ball, and he has a fearlessness on the pitch that belies his age.
One to watch?
— Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) February 11, 2017
THE OLD HENRY ON “THE NEW HENRY”
What does Thierry Henry think of the supposed heir to his throne?
“Mbappé has something special, let’s be honest,” he said in an interview about the young star. “If he keeps his head on his shoulders, it will come on its own.”
A number of clubs have reportedly been interested in bringing on Mbappé, including Tottenham, Liverpool and Arsenal. Mbappé has two years left on his current contract with Monaco.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said he’s been following Mbappé’s development in Ligue 1 closely. Wenger gave his thoughts about the similarities between Mbappé and Henry in an interview with the Ligue 1 Show.
“The future, the talent is similar,” he said. “The potential is similar. After that, has he the same level of motivation and desire and intelligence that Thierry had? The next two or three years will tell us that. But the first signs you see are very promising, yes.”