Jean-Pierre Papin Says Kylian Mbappe Is 'The Real Star of PSG,' Not Neymar

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistApril 23, 2019

PARIS, FRANCE - APRIL 21: Kylian Mbappe #7 of Paris Saint-Germain controls the ball during the Ligue 1 match between Paris Saint-Germain and AS Monaco at Parc des Princes on April 21, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Catherine Steenkeste/Getty Images)
Catherine Steenkeste/Getty Images

Former France international Jean-Pierre Papin hailed Kylian Mbappe after he scored a hat-trick for Paris Saint-Germain to take his tally to 30 Ligue 1 goals for the season.

Mbappe scored all three goals as PSG celebrated their sixth title win in seven seasons with a 3-1 victory against Monaco on Sunday.

Papin thinks the 20-year-old is now the team's biggest star despite the presence of Neymar, as he told Le Parisien (h/t Goal's Chris Burton):

"The real weapon of PSG is not Neymar, it's him. 

"We could have predicted that. Even if Neymar is galactic, the real star of PSG is Mbappe. 

"For two years now, Neymar has offered some fabulous flashes, but Mbappe is there all the time."

Mbappe ended PSG's three-match winless run with a composed series of finishes against his former side:

The youngster has had to step up at the Parc des Princes in recent months because of injuries to Neymar and Edinson Cavani. Neymar made his first appearance since January 23 on Sunday, while Cavani made just his second showing since February 9.

Mbappe is the first Frenchman to score 30 goals in a Ligue 1 season since Papin did so with Marseille 29 years ago:

Papin added: 

"It was about time! I've been part of the story and it's good when others improve things. 

"Thirty goals is a lot, especially for a 20-year-old kid. The difference with me is that I did it once and he will do it several times.

"When, at 19, you win the World Cup, you score goals in the Champions League and you reach 30 goals in Ligue 1…

"He is able to score all the time. There is nothing to say about the quality of Kylian. He is just exceptional."

B/R Football added further impressive context to Mbappe's achievement and some insight into what makes him such a potent weapon in the final third:

The youngster arrived at PSG in 2017 on an initial loan deal that became permanent with a €180 million fee, the same summer Neymar signed from Barcelona for a world-record €222 million. The former has since scored 57 goals and assisted 32 in 84 matches, while the latter has 48 goals and 27 assists in 54 games.

Neymar is more productive with both goals and assists per outing, but he's 27 and should be at or approaching the peak of his powers.

The Brazilian's worth to the side ultimately rests on his ability to contribute in the UEFA Champions League knockout phase, but he has been injured during the key periods of both seasons in Paris, so Mbappe has offered more overall.

Mbappe may have cost PSG less than Neymar did, but he has shown himself to be the team's most valuable asset.

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