Few goals in Kylian Mbappe’s career have been more important than the first time he netted against Saint-Etienne.
Back in May 2017, Monaco hosted Saint-Etienne needing a result to secure their first league title in 17 years. If there were any nerves among Monaco’s young side that day, any fears of an upset were quickly dispelled by an 18-year-old playing in his first full season of senior football.
Latching on to a through ball from Radamel Falcao 19 minutes in, Mbappe glided through on goal and sat goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier on his arse like a bully pushing around the weedy kid in the playground and slid the ball home. Monaco won 2-0 to secure the title, and Mbappe has continued to terrorise Saint-Etienne ever since.
Mbappe has faced Saint-Etienne four times in the intervening three years, scoring four goals. His latest outing against Les Vertes saw PSG win 6-1 in the quarter-final of the Coupe de la Ligue.
The forward scored his side’s final goal of the game in the 67th minute and could have been outshone by Mauro Icardi, who bagged a hat-trick. But then, Mbappe decided to do this.
— mbappegoals (@mbappegoals_) January 8, 2020
It’s not so much the aesthetic beauty of watching a player come so close to scoring from 20 yards out with a rabona – Erik Lamela might be able to give Kylian a lesson or two – but rather the sheer audacity of the act.
France has a long and proud history of producing rock stars masquerading as footballers, from Dimitri Payet to Zinedine Zidane to Eric Cantona, and Mbappe is well on his way to evolving from cherub-faced boy wonder to swaggering demigod.
Reports in recent months have suggested Neymar has had a bad influence on Mbappe, but when you see the 21-year-old attempting a shot so ostentatious it would make Kanye West cringe, perhaps a healthy dose of arrogance may make him only more irresistible as a footballer.
Given Mbappe conquered the world at the age of 19 with France, we’re all in favour of him spending the rest of his career entertaining himself by coming up with increasingly ridiculous ways of being brilliant.