Kylian Mbappe has been impressive for Monaco this season – he is just 18 At the same age, Cristiano Ronaldo made a big-money move to Manchester, Lionel Messi was in Barcelona first-team while Neymar was still at Santos and Zlatan Ibrahimovic hadn’t yet hit the heights and was playing for Malmo.
If the world hadn’t already sat up and noticed Kylian Mbappe, they have now. At the tender age of 18, the Monaco talent is firing himself to superstardom.
Wednesday night was just the latest man-of-the-match performance from the Frenchman, as he scored twice to ensure Monaco beat Borussia Dortmund 3-2.
This season he has 19 goals, and is only set to improve as he gets older… but where were some of the other best players in the world when they were just 18?
When Ronaldo turned 18, he was impressing in the Portuguese top division with boyhood club Sporting Lisbon, but his life was about to change forever.
After an initial meeting with Arsene Wenger at Arsenal’s training ground, Sir Alex Ferguson set his sights on the winger and he became the world’s most expensive teenager when he moved to Manchester United in the summer of 2003.
Ferguson described Ronaldo as ‘one of the most exciting young players I have ever seen’, and he cost United £12m, going on to wear the No 7 shirt at Old Trafford.
In my entire life I have never seen a player of such quality and personality at such a young age, particularly wearing the heavy shirt of one of the world’s great clubs.’
The words of Fabio Capello, speaking about an 18-year-old Lionel Messi in his breakthrough season. The Argentinian signed his first senior contract on the day he became an adult, with a buyout clause reported to be €150million (£127m).
Messi had come through the La Masia academy at Barcelona, and 18 was the age he made his mark on the first-team, starting on the right wing as part of an attacking trio with Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto’o. He scored eight goals in 25 appearances.