Real Madrid are reportedly ready to step up their interest in Monaco starlet Kylian Mbappe, having come close to landing the forward in the past.
According to Carlos Forjanes of AS, Los Blancos manager Zinedine Zidane is a massive fan of the 18-year-old, who has made a massive splash in Ligue 1 and in the UEFA Champions League this season with some dazzling performances.
As noted in the piece, Mbappe met with Cristiano Ronaldo and visited the club’s Valdebebas base ahead of a possible move in 2014, although he eventually opted to join Monaco.
Per Dermot Corrigan of ESPN FC, Zidane has recently outlined how close Madrid came to securing the youngster’s signature:
Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan
Zidane on Mbappe: “He almost signed for Madrid, very close, but in the end he went to Monaco. What he is doing at his age is fantastic."2017-3-17 12:36:54
Three years on and Madrid may regret not snapping the youngster up, as he’s emerged as one of the most exciting prospects in world football. Indeed, according to Didac Peyret of Sport, Real’s great rivals Barcelona are also said to hold an interest in landing Mbappe.
Here’s a look at why he’s been linked to some of the biggest clubs in the game:
Although there was talk of Mbappe’s potential last season, manager Leonardo Jardim has given the youngster increased responsibility in 2016-17 despite his tender years. And the striker has thrived on it.
While he’s not a regular starter for Monaco quite yet, Mbappe has featured in plenty of matches for the football club and led the line against Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday. Typically, when he is in the team, positive things happen on the football pitch.
These numbers from Squawka Football sum up not only his potency in front of goal, but Mbappe’s ability to create too:
Squawka Football @Squawka
Kylian Mbappé for Monaco across all competitions this season: 1575 minutes 17 goals 8 assists Directly involved every 63 minutes. https://t.co/n6MPdaV2mG2017-3-15 22:01:00
It’s hard to stand out as an attacking player in this enterprising Monaco team, because there are so many exhilarating options for Jardim to call upon in the final third. But Mbappe does.
While he can still grow into his frame, he’s strong on the ball, possesses a searing change of pace and has such quick feet. His fearlessness makes defenders' jobs so difficult and in the nascent stages of his career, there’s not a player or a team who have been able to completely contain him yet.
As such, things are moving quickly for Mbappe. Indeed, his exceptional form has seen him earn a maiden call-up to the France national side. It’s easy to forget quite how young he is sometimes:
Bleacher Report UK @br_uk
Soon-to-be France international Kylian Mbappe wasn’t even born when Les Bleus won the 1998 World Cup! 🇫🇷 https://t.co/TEhlNb2EK02017-3-16 15:48:17
Potentially, he’d be perfect for Madrid. The 11-time European champions have always sought to secure the brightest attacking prospects in the game and Mbappe, undoubtedly, fits into that category.
At the Santiago Bernabeu he’d be able to learn alongside the likes of Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema. Although he wouldn’t be a guaranteed starter, the opportunity to join a club like Madrid and potentially build a legacy would be a tempting one for any young footballer.
Monaco have made it clear they want to retain their prized asset, though, with president Vadim Vasilyev insisting "our intention is to keep him here," per Forjanes. The intention is admirable, although if clubs with the gravitas of Madrid and Barcelona come knocking, that’ll be a difficult ask.