Teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe has stated that Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi remain football’s greatest players but that his own World Cup heroics could help crown him the 2018 Ballon d’Or winner.
Mbappe, 19, inspired France to World Cup victory in Russia with four goals – including one in the 4-2 final victory over Croatia as he became just the second teenager after Pele in 1958 to score in the championship match.
He was also voted Young Player of the tournament and has since become Ligue 1’s leading scorer with 11 goals as Paris Saint-Germain run away with the French title.
Messi and Ronaldo have won the last 10 Ballon d’Or awards and Mbappe believes that they are still the sport’s top A-listers.
“Nobody is doing better at the moment and we can’t say it’s the end of their era because it will only end when somebody else does better than them,” Mbappe told AFP.
However, the young striker added: “I don’t think one of them will win the Ballon d’Or this year because it was a World Cup year, and the World Cup takes precedence.”
While Mbappe thrived at the World Cup, Messi’s Argentina and Ronaldo’s Portugal bowed out in the last 16.
“But if you take the player in the purest form, there’s nobody better yet. This year they were again the best two,” added Mbappe.
“Messi finished the best goalscorer in Europe; Ronaldo was the top scorer in the Champions League.”
The last French player to win the coveted Ballon d’Or was Zinedine Zidane after the national team’s 1998 World Cup victory.
“Frankly, I hope so (win the Ballon d’Or). We achieved something big. It would not be unjust because that is a strong word, but it would be a shame if a Frenchman does not win it.
“We made history and it would be nice to be rewarded.”
On being tipped to be the next true superstar once Messi and Ronaldo have retired, Mbappe added: “I cannot control everything that is done and said.
“There is not just the pitch but everything around it must also be managed. It’s not easy but I’m learning, I’m still learning. I have people around me who help me overcome the challenges one after the other.”