Kylian Mbappe is the heir to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Ballon d’Or throne, according to Marseille boss Andre Villas-Boas.
The Paris Saint-Germain star came fourth in last year’s competition following a starring role in France’s World Cup win, and the 20-year-old is on the 30-man shortlist for the next edition.
Villas-Boas is looking for a way to contain Mbappe as his Marseille side travel to Paris in a Ligue 1 glamour tie on Sunday evening, but the former Chelsea and Tottenham boss wasn’t sounding overly optimistic about his side’s chances.
“He is the natural successor of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for the Ballon d’Or,” he said of Mbappe.
“The squad PSG have is incredible, it’s also well put together this year. [Mauro] Icardi has adapted well.
“With the injuries to [Thomas] Meunier and [Ander] Herrera, I do not know what [Thomas] Tuchel is going to do. He also has [Angel] Di Maria, who is in incredible form.
“The difference between the two teams is gigantic, but we aren’t going to Paris to be part of a PSG party. We are going to try and win the game. You have to sweat for the badge but it is also important to finish the match without any injuries or suspensions.”
While Mbappe’s continued rise suggests a Ballon d’Or is a question of when rather than if, he would have to win it this year to match the record of the Brazilian Ronaldo, who first won the then-FIFA World Player of the Year award aged 20, back in 1996. Mbappe will turn 21 in mid-December, with the winner announced earlier in the month.
Mbappe has started this season in good form, with six goals and four assists in eight appearances for PSG in all competitions.
After notching 39 and 17 respectively in 43 games last year, he will likely pick up some votes this year again – but the feeling persists that he would have to move to a more competitive league if he is to scoop the game’s biggest individual prize.
Messi and Virgil van Dijk are among the favourites for this year’s award, with Messi beating the Liverpool defender to FIFA’s The Best award in September.
In 2018, Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric became the first man other than Messi and Ronaldo to win the award in over a decade.