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PSG's Kylian Mbappe 'Flattered' Lionel Messi Considers Him Competition

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistDecember 24, 2019

(COMBO) This combination of photos created on June 28, 2018 shows France's forward Kylian Mbappe in Yekaterinburg on June 21, 2018 (L) and Argentina's forward Lionel Messi in Nizhny Novgorod on June 21, 2018. - France will play Argentina in their Russia 2018 World Cup round of 16 football match at the Kazan Arena in Kazan on June 30, 2018. (Photo by Franck FIFE and Johannes EISELE / AFP)        (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE,JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)
FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images

Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe has said he's flattered Lionel Messi considers him competition after French compatriot Ousmane Dembele said his Barcelona team-mate keeps his eye on the rising superstar. 

Mbappe, 21, ran Messi close in the race for last season's European Golden Shoe when he won the award for a third year running, scoring 36 league goals, while Mbappe finished second with 33 to his name.

The PSG hitman spoke to France Football (h/t Get French Football News) after recently retaining the Best French Footballer of the Year award:

"[At the end of last season] Instead of just putting my head under the covers and waiting calmly for the end of the season, I was trying to outdo myself. I saw that I could maybe get this title of the top goalscorer in Europe. … But, facing off against me, was Messi. I would score twice on a weekend, he would go and score three; I would score three, he would score four!

"It was so crazy that I spoke with Ousmane [Dembele] about it. 'This is crazy! Is he doing this on purpose?' He responded to me: 'Of course he is looking at you!' I said to myself: 'Ah, not bad, Messi is surveilling me.' It is flattering to see that such a player is not overlooking you."

Mbappe has 18 goals in only 19 appearances this season—including 11 in Ligue 1 and five in the UEFA Champions League—along with nine assists.

The speedster scored a brace in his side's 4-1 league win over Amiens on Saturday, when he opened the scoring with a breakaway goal from the halfway line, via Goal:

Goal @goal

Mbappe is ruthless ☠ https://t.co/kcMjqmnkOT

Andres Onrubia of AS cited another section of Mbappe's interview with France Football, where he stated he hasn't changed following his rise to fame in recent years.

French football writer Jeremy Smith argued the answer in itself perhaps served as evidence to the contrary:

Jeremy Smith @jeremysmith98

Asked to address criticism of his change of image, Mbappe has said "people think Kylian has changed but it's not true." Not convinced referring to yourself in the third person is going to help to answer those critics.

Messi, 32, has scored 15 times this season despite making just one appearance fewer than Mbappe (18), also contributing nine assists to Barca's campaign thus far.

However, the Argentinian is currently joint-seventh in this season's Golden Shoe rankings while Mbappe is level in 17th.

Former Barcelona star Neymar may be seen as close competition to Mbappe at the Parc des Princes, but the 2018 FIFA World Cup winner enthused his focus is to succeed alongside the Brazilian:

Goal @goal

🗣 Mbappe: "In my first session with PSG I said to Neymar: 'Don't worry, I won't be walking on your flower beds here. "'I assure you that I don't want to take your place, you can keep it. I'm always here to help you'." 🇫🇷 ♥ 🇧🇷 https://t.co/uM8QKT3qrZ

Mbappe's goal tally this term is even more astounding considering he's missed seven matches through injury. PSG are not due to resume their campaign until after the winter break when they face Linas-Montlhery in the Coupe de France on January 5.