PARIS — Teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe told AFP on Thursday that Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi remain football’s greatest players, but that his own World Cup heroics could help crown as the 2018 Ballon d’Or winner.
Mbappe, 19, inspired France to World Cup victory in Russia with four goals.
One of those came in the 4-2 final victory over Croatia as he became just the second teenager after Pele in 1958 to score in the championship match.
He was also voted Young Player of the tournament and has since become Ligue 1’s leading scorer with 11 goals as Paris Saint-Germain run away with the French title.
Messi and Ronaldo have won the last 10 Ballon d’Or awards and Mbappe believes that they are still the sport’s top A-listers.
“Nobody is doing better at the moment and we can’t say it’s the end of their era because it will only end when somebody else does better than them,” Mbappe told AFP.
However, the young striker added: “I don’t think one of them will win the Ballon d’Or this year because it was a World Cup year, and the World Cup takes precedence.”
While Mbappe thrived at the World Cup, Messi’s Argentina and Ronaldo’s Portugal bowed out in the Last 16.
“But if you take the player in the purest form, there’s nobody better yet. This year they were again the best two,” added Mbappe.
“Messi finished the best goalscorer in Europe; Ronaldo was the top scorer in the Champions League.”
Mbappe was speaking to AFP on Thursday at an event organized by watchmakers Hublot, one of his leading sponsors.
The last French player to win the coveted Ballon d’Or was Zinedine Zidane after the national team’s 1998 World Cup victory.
“Frankly, I hope so (win the Ballon d’Or). We achieved something big. It would not be unjust because that is a strong word, but it would be a shame if a Frenchman does not win it.
“We made history and it would be nice to be rewarded.”
Croatia’s Luka Modric, voted Best Player of the World Cup, remains favourite for the Ballon d’Or.
However, Modric is 14 years Mbappe’s senior so the young Frenchman has time on his side.
He will also have time and opportunity to complete his journey from the tough streets of the down-at-heel Paris suburb of Bondy to a life of super riches.