A FIFA World Cup winner at age 19, a star in the making, and a household name, he is the idol of plenty of children who are starting to watch football just now. With his dazzling speed, outstanding dribbles and pinpoint shots that beat goalkeepers, Kylian Mbappe is definitely a star in his own name and will be one of the top football players in the world for the next decade.
But while his legacy was surely enshrined at Russia 2018, when he became a world champion for the first time, it is also cemented at Qatar 2022, where France are still a force to be reckoned with, despite the plethora of stars missing through injury, like Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante or Karim Benzema.
No worry, though, because Mbappe is in his class of his own, becoming the top goal scorer of the competition after the Round of 16, with five goals scored in three matches, as he was rested against Tunisia for the knockout phase of the competition. Where he already delivered a gem, scoring a brace in France’s 3-1 win against Poland, with two moments of magic that will remain in the history of the FIFA World Cup.
It seems that Mbappe likes Qatar and settled well at this edition of the FIFA World Cup. But his relationship with the Middle East state, who is the host nation of the competition, started long before the tournament. In fact, Mbappe was touted to be one of the poster boys of Qatar 2022 since signing for Paris Saint-Germain in 2018, a team owned by Qatar Sports Investments, a closed shareholding organization founded in 2005 and based in Doha, Qatar.
PSG’s chairman, Qatari businessman Nasser Al-Khelaifi, long identified Mbappe as a player to watch, the best football player in the world, for a while, since the French striker made his debut in 2015 at AS Monaco. Having scored 27 goals in 60 matches for the Monegasque side, Mbappe attracted interest from many clubs, but eventually settled for PSG.
He was the subject of the largest sum paid for a teenager in the history of football, rumoured to be €145 million plus €35 million in add-ons, but Mbappe proved to be worth every penny, as he went on and scored 190 goals in 235 matches for PSG, delivering time and time again for the Parisian club.
“It was essential for French football that we keep and help develop such a great talent in our championship. Among players of his age, he is, without a doubt, the most promising in the world due to his immense technical, physical, and mental qualities. Since his emergence at the highest level, he has earned an excellent reputation as a young talent who is very respectful, open, ambition,us and already very mature,” said Al-Khelaifi when Mbappe signed for PSG.
Indeed, the injection of money from the owners, Qatar Sports Investments, shapeshifted PSG into one of the best clubs in Europe, with a huge potential of growth and a project to rival the top sides, challenging for the UEFA Champions League trophy time and time again.
But Mbappe, who was always a Real Madrid fan, was close to signing for the Spanish giants in the summer of 2022. Going back and forth and even saying no to a €180 million offer, PSG hoped that Mbappe would choose them.
And indeed he did, resigning from the Parisian club in May 2022, despite strong interest from Madrid, who nearly signed him.
“Kylian has stayed at PSG for the next three seasons. It’s very important for us, Ligue 1 and France. This choice is a very strong sign, we are keeping the best player in the world. He stays here because Paris puts him in a position to achieve his sporting goals: win, win and win,” said Al-Khelaifi.
Eventually, Mbappe decided it was in his best interest to continue playing in France, his home country, and the country that gave him all, especially prior to Qatar 2022.
He came energized to this FIFA World Cup edition, which is coincidentally also held in Qatar, and scored five goals until the Round of 16, stamping his authority on the competition.
His relationship with Qatar has been long discussed, but one thing is for sure: it is at PSG where Mbappe thrived and it is at Qatar 2022 where he cements his legacy as one of the best football players of all time, even if he is only 23 years old.