Kylian Mbappe celebrates his 20th birthday on Thursday as arguably the hottest young talent in the game.
After leaving Monaco for Paris Saint-Germain in a deal that made him the second most expensive player in history — behind team-mate Neymar — Mbappe has gone from strength to strength. A couple of years ago he was battling for a regular place in Monaco's starting line-up but this month he finished fourth in the Ballon d'Or voting, ahead of five-time winner Lionel Messi.
Here, Omnisport takes a look at the rapid rise of a phenomenal talent who has thrilled Europe, won multiple major titles and earned international honours in double-quick time.
Scrubbing Henry from the record books
Mbappe's rapid pace, smooth technique and clinical eye for goal have drawn numerous comparisons to Thierry Henry — now in charge of his old club. The Arsenal and France great also cut his teeth at Monaco and stood as the Ligue 1 club's youngest player and goalscorer until Mbappe came on the scene. He became Les Monegasques' most fresh-faced debutant when he replaced Fabio Coentrao against Caen on December 2, 2015 at 16 years and 347 days. Two months later, he swept home in stoppage time to seal a 3-1 win over Troyes and claim another Henry record.
Despite bursts of obvious promise, Mbappe remained a bit-part player for the remainder of 2016 as a revitalised Radamel Falcao and the wily Valere Germain led Monaco's unlikely assault on the Ligue 1 title. The youngster had three goals in 12 appearances before being named in the starting XI to face Rennes in the Coupe de la Ligue. Mbappe glided in from the left and side-footed into the far corner with his right to open the scoring in the 11th minute, sliding in to double his tally at the far post 10 minutes later. He completed his hat-trick after the hour. The match ended in a 7-0 demolition and Mbappe had truly arrived.
Conquering Ligue 1
Mbappe added to his collection of match balls with a treble in a 5-0 thumping of Metz in February 2017 as his and Monaco's season went into overdrive. Mbappe's second hat-trick of the campaign came towards the start of a purple patch that returned 20 goals in 23 games across all competitions. The run concluded as he sped clear of the Saint-Etienne defence and rounded Stephane Ruffier to set Monaco on the way to a title-clinching 2-0 win.
Champions League breakthrough
As the youngster thrilled in peak form, Leonardo Jardim decided it was time to unleash him on the biggest stage. Mbappe marked his first Champions League start by lashing emphatically into the top-left corner against Manchester City. Monaco lost a thriller 5-3 at the Etihad Stadium but won the return 3-1 to prevail on away goals in the last 16, with Mbappe again on target. He netted three times over two legs versus Borussia Dortmund in the quarterfinals and had been widely anointed as Europe's next superstar by the time he scored in vain against Juventus in the semis. He earned selection alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann and Robert Lewandowski in UEFA's squad of the season.
PSG strike EUR 180m bargain
Monaco was always going to find it hard to hold on to Mbappe and he joined PSG for EUR 180m after leading his club to the Ligue 1 title, the deal including an initial one-season loan. Mbappe hit 13 league goals as PSG won a domestic treble last term but he is already on track to eclipse that figure, his 12 goals the joint most in the French top-flight so far in 2018-19. He has continued to collect individual honours too, being named Tuttosport's Golden Boy in 2017 and following up that success with the inaugural Kopa Trophy at this year's Ballon d'or Awards — a new prize for the best male player under the age of 21. After missing out on a place in the top three for the main award, multiple Ballons d'Or look highly likely for Mbappe. Whether his long-term future will be at PSG is in doubt, though, with Real Madrid strongly rumoured to be interested.
France coach Didier Deschamps wasted no time in making Mbappe a key part of an attack brimming with talent and he duly played an important role in Les Bleus' triumph at Russia 2018. Mbappe scored four times in the tournament, including his side's fourth goal in their final defeat of Croatia. His partnership with Atletico Madrid striker Griezmann looks set to strike fear into the heart of international defences for years to come.