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Why sign Lionel Messi when you could have Kylian Mbappe?
Kylian Mbappe grabbed the attention of the footballing world on Tuesday with a stunning hat-trick as Paris Saint-Germain picked apart Barcelona 4-1 in a result that could have seismic implications on the future of Lionel Messi.
The logic reads that Messi, who already pushed to leave Camp Nou last season, will not wish to continue with a team that is years away from challenging for the Champions League.
But will the six-time Ballon d’Or winner, who is undisputedly one of the greatest players of all time, even be top of many club’s shopping lists after Mbappe’s sensational triple salvo on his first visit to Camp Nou?
At just 22, Mbappe still has the footballing world at his feet. He is likely to be one of the world’s greatest players for the next decade.
Messi, meanwhile, is quickly approaching the end of his career. He will be 34 by the time the new season kicks off in Europe, and though undoubtedly an elite player, for how much longer is uncertain. Manchester City and the Parisians are both studying his case.
Kylian Mbappe vs Lionel Messi (2020/21)
|STATISTIC||KYLIAN MBAPPE||LIONEL MESSI|
|DRIBBLE SUCCESS %||55%||67%|
Much was made of Messi’s demeanour during Tuesday’s PSG clash. When out of possession, he spent much of the time wandering the field at a plodding pace. While this has undoubtedly been part of his make up since the beginning of his career back in 2004, it is a tendency that is more pronounced now.
It is natural, of course, for stamina levels to drop at Messi’s age, and any team signing him would be doing so with the caveat of knowing they would have to work around such parameters.
Mbappe, meanwhile, showed at Camp Nou that six months into what is perhaps the most gruelling season ever, he has the capacity to turn it on when it really matters. With Neymar and Angel Di Maria sidelined, PSG’s hopes were pinned on him, and while the team performance was complete, victory was only possible due to his individual qualities.
Having suffered injury and illness this season, Mbappe looks as fresh as ever as the crucial weeks of the campaign approach. The same cannot be said of the aging Messi. Little wonder Real Madrid and Liverpool are interested in the Frenchman, who Barcelona overlooked to sign Ousmane Dembele in 2017.
And that’s not to say that Messi is not still the superior player. There is, however, more value in a pound-for-pound basis in chasing Mbappe for any prospective clubs.
The France international, of course, is not an unattainable prospect. With his contract at PSG expiring in 2022, this summer represents the best opportunity to sign him for perhaps the next three or four years. By that time, Messi will likely have hung up his boots or will be playing out his career at Newell’s Old Boys.
PSG, who appear to have prioritised Neymar’s contract renewal over that of Mbappe and seem to have Messi lined up as a replacement, must remember this as they plan for next season.
Messi may arguably be the greatest player of all time, but Mbappe has the potential to be the greatest player of the next decade. For that reason, PSG should stop worrying so much about the Barcelona star and start concentrating on the future legend already on their books.