Saturday, February 04, 2017

Will Kylian Mbappe be the next Thierry Henry?

By Vidur Kalive (@vidurkalive)

After confirming his interest in the 18-year old from Monaco, Arsene Wenger went on to admit that the teenager reminds him of the Arsenal legend, Thierry Henry. The Gunners boss is not the first one to notice a similarity between the two Frenchmen. Mbappe first appeared on the scene last year when he broke two club records previously held by Henry. He became the youngest debutant in Monaco’s history to score for the first team aged 16 years 347 days and, two months later, went on to become the youngest goalscorer ever for the club. 

If you think toppling a couple of records does not warrant a comparison with the legendary Thierry Henry, you would be right, which is why it is necessary to look back at how it all started. Mbappe’s footballing career seems to have navigated a similar course as Henry’s up until this point. Despite interest from behemoths such as Arsenal, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Chelsea, Liverpool, Juventus, PSG, Manchester United, Manchester City and Real Madrid, the youngster pledged his allegiance to his country choosing not to leave France. Even Zinedine Zidane and the glamour of Real Madrid failed to tempt Mbappe away from Monaco. Just as Thierry Henry chose to stay with Monaco all those years ago

The French club signed a 3-year deal with Mbappe last year, but Arsene Wenger is confident he can bring the teenager to the Emirates and mould him to take the mantle which remains empty since Henry’s departure. The ingredients are all there. Mbappe is fast and uses his change of pace effectively to send defenders into a tailspin. He is skilled and can use both his feet in tight situations while using quick passes to get his teammates into attacking positions. 

Arsene Wenger’s disciplined coaching is needed to strengthen Mbappe’s defensive capabilities and improve his decision making. When going forward, his inexperience brings out the showman in him and that unnecessary trick or run can cost his team dearly on the counter attack. Wenger is a master at weeding out such flaws having spent his entire managerial career developing young talent. 

One of the main reasons behind Mbappe’s decision to stay at Monaco was game time. He is reluctant to spend too much time on the bench during, what he believes, are his formative years. Arsene Wenger’s reputation of nurturing young talent should be a hopeful sign for Mbappe and a chance to ply your trade in the premier league is an opportunity that seldom presents itself. The rise of Anthony Martial at Old Trafford is a good example of young French talent shining on the big English stage.

Mbappe is already making his mark on the international stage after he scored five times in France’s U-19 Euro Championship winning squad. He produced the performance of the tournament when he single-handedly led France to a 3-1 win over Portugal. 

The teenager’s future looks bright, but he has kept his wits about him. This is an opinion echoed by his former captain at Monaco Jeremy Toulalan who praised Mbappe for his work ethic and interest in the game but warned him against complacency saying, “He has to be attentive and make the right choices”. If he does not leave Monaco during the summer, the offers from high profile clubs will sky rocket next season with Mbappe’s contract coming to an end in 2019. With his potential recognised, Mbappe should be wise and choose to play in a league which will challenge him to grow. The Premier League and Arsene Wenger are calling. When your fate is aligned with Thierry Henry’s, you should blindly heed the call. 

1 comment:

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