Argentina great Diego Maradona praised Kylian Mbappe on Friday as “the revelation of football” after the French teenage sensation’s spectacular rise to stardom.
Mbappe, who only turns 19 on December 20, finished seventh in last week’s Ballon d’Or voting — ahead of the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Harry Kane and Paris Saint-Germain team-mate Edinson Cavani.
“For me Mbappe is the revelation of football,” Maradona, the star of Argentina’s 1986 World Cup triumph, said in an interview with Spanish daily As. “He seems to me that he can be better than lots of players.”
It has been a remarkable 2017 for Mbappe. He helped fire Monaco to a first French league title in 17 years and reached the Champions League semi-finals, before joining PSG in a stunning deal worth 180 million euros ($209 million).
Maradona named the Frenchman as part of a list of players he believes are worthy of challenging Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s perpetual claim to the Ballon d’Or — an award both have won five times each since 2008.
“Giving it to Cristiano and giving it to Messi has become boring,” said Maradona. “There needs to be others getting involved in the fight, like Cavani, Mbappe, (Zlatan) Ibrahimovic. I don’t know, there just needs to be some others.”
Maradona also recalled advising Real Madrid president Florentino Perez to sign Mbappe prior to him moving to PSG.
“I said that to Florentino, sign Mbappe. I told him that! It was when we saw each other at FIFA,” Maradona recounted. “He told me, ‘But you know I have Cristiano already.’”
Mbappe had reportedly been a target of Real, but the European champions were ultimately beaten to his signature by PSG.