Kylian Mbappe is running out of time and must answer one question to fulfil talent
It was a notable little record that was naturally lost on the night, partly because Kylian Mbappe didn’t get the victory he so desired.
In what was maybe the most exhilarating moment of the 2022 World Cup final, the French star scored the most powerfully-struck goal of the entire tournament at 123.34km/h. No finish was faster. The volley on the spin, as exquisite as it was explosive, seemed symbolic of how there was no stopping Mbappe at that time. Even in defeat, he was much more than a mere support act. Mbappe’s willingness to take centre stage only enriched Lionel Messi’s great story, both players going to the heights of their ability by reaching to the depths of their resolve.
The Paris Saint-Germain forward may not have succeeded Pele in winning two World Cups in a row but he seemed perfectly set to succeed Messi as the next best player in the world. Mbappe’s whole campaign in Qatar had been that captivating, the hat-trick in the final to become top scorer only capping it.
He seemed set to make the best of all that talent… only to do very little since. Mbappe has significantly slowed since that strike.
What has he actually done of significance since?
There’s been a spectacular goal from distance against Gibraltar, and that’s pretty much it on the pitch. Mbappe’s career since the World Cup has otherwise been characterised by a series of off-pitch controversies, most of all his stand-off with PSG about his refusal to sign a new contract last summer. There’s certainly been nothing in the Champions League and, worse, little is expected this season.
It says much that two of Mbappe’s juniors, in Erling Haaland and Jude Bellingham, drive most of the discussion there. They’re much better positioned to have more impact in the