France World Cup winner Yuri Djorkaeff believes Kylian Mbappe has earned himself a place among the best in the world with his performances in Russia.
Mbappe, already a rising star coming into the tournament after consecutive strong seasons as a teenager with Monaco and Paris-Saint Germain, announced himself to the world with thrilling performances in Russia to help lead Les Blues to the final against Croatia on Sunday.
The forward delivered a brace and won a penalty in France’s round of 16 victory over Lionel Messi and Argentina and has fared well in their successive victories over Uruguay and Belgium.
And Djorkaeff, who was team-mate to current France manager Didier Deschamps when Les Blues won the World Cup as hosts in 1998, believes Mbappe has staked his claim among the game’s best, though it will require hard work to stay there.
“Today, there’s Mbappe and there are others. For me, he’s improved his play to draw alongside the very best,” Djorkaeff told Sport24.
“It’s up to him to continue like this. He’s given his services to the team, brought his style and made a difference that is outside the usual.”
Mbappe finds himself in the World Cup final, while the game’s biggest names all found their tournaments come to disappointing ends in the rounds prior.
Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo both narrowly escaped group-stage exits only to be bounced in the round of 16, while Neymar and Brazil, among the pre-tournament favourites, were ousted by Belgium in the quarter-final stage.
And Djorkaeff jokingly added Mbappe has nearly called time on their reign at the top with his World Cup performances.
“When you see Messi, Ronaldo or Neymar, they’ve been practically obsolete in comparison to Mbappe. He’s made them old. I’m happy because that’s football.”
That said, Djorkaeff believes that while Mbappe is not finished developing yet, but he’s on track to eventually make himself the game’s top player.
“He’s got some way to go, but he will be the best player in the world. I’m impressed with his off-the-ball work, which he does to perfection.”