Teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe produced a superb individual display as France booked their place in Sunday’s World Cup final with a 1-0 victory over Belgium.
Here, FP takes a look at the 19-year-old Paris St Germain star with the world at his feet.
Mbappe’s ability to stretch a defence with his speed across the turf is a major weapon for France, particularly on the counter-attack, and he is almost as quick with the ball as he is without it, allowing him to run directly at defenders as well as ghost in behind them.
He has three goals in Russia to date, a close-range winner in the Group C clash with Peru and a fine double against Argentina in the last 16, and found the net on 21 occasions in 39 appearances for PSG last season.
Mbappe’s awareness of what is going on around him is key to his knack of opening up a defence and he demonstrated that ability on several occasions during the semi-final – to cushion a first-time pass into the path of Olivier Giroud from Antoine Griezmann’s pass, play full-back Benjamin Pavard into a shooting position and later to put in Giroud once again with an outrageous piece of skill.
Speed of thought and feet are one thing, but the audacity to attempt something different is priceless and the teenager did just that to leave vastly experienced Belgium defender Vincent Kompany for dead with his ‘shuffle’ move. He accepted Blaise Matuidi’s lay-off with his back to goal, rolled the ball with the sole of his right foot on to his left and then repeated the feat to pick out Giroud’s run towards goal.
Despite being fouled on 13 occasions to date – half as many as the World Cup’s most sinned against player, Neymar – Mbappe has demonstrated an impressive calm. He picked up the first of two bookings after a run-in with Uruguay’s Christian Rodriguez and, after that had been wiped, a second for time-wasting as France attempted to run down the clock against the Belgians.