Ronaldo, Messi still best but won't win Ballon d'Or: Mbappe
Paris: France teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe on Thursday insisted that a member of the France World Cup winning team should be declared as the winner of the prestigious Ballon d'Or trophy this year, despite Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi still being the best players in the world. Speaking to news agency AFP at an event, Mbappe said that no one is doing better than Messi and Ronaldo at the moment, but World Cup will take precedence over their individual performances.
"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. 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," Mbappe was quoted as saying by the news agency.
"But if you take the player in the purest form, there's nobody better yet. This year they were again the best two. Messi finished the best goalscorer in Europe; Ronaldo was the top scorer in the Champions League," he said.
The 19-year-old was one of the best players of the tournament, scoring 4 goals and winning the Young Player of the Award trophy. On being asked if he has a chance of winning the coveted trophy, the PSG forward said, "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," he said. "We made history and it would be nice to be rewarded," Mbappe added.
But the France international insisted that he wants to win all the World Cup titles throughout his career. "I play to win; if I play four World Cups then I want to win four. We go step by step. I have already won one. You have to prepare and win with your club and with the national team also. There are short-term goals before thinking about the 2022 World Cup. But the aim always is to win," he said.
On being questioned whether he is the next big star to replace Ronaldo and Messi, Mbappe said, "I cannot control everything that is done and said. "There is not just the pitch but everything around it must also be managed. It's not easy but I'm learning, I'm still learning. I have people around me who help me overcome the challenges one after the other," he said.
The last French player to win the coveted Ballon d'Or was Zinedine Zidane after the national team's 1998 World Cup victory.
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.
Mbappe, who will turn 20 just before Christmas, signed for PSG from Monaco for 180 million euros in 2017 in the second most expensive transfer of all time — behind PSG teammate Neymar who cost the French champions 222 million euros.
Off the field, he seems destined to match Ronaldo in the commercial stakes.
Will his initials "KM" match the brand power of Ronaldo's "CR7"?
"I don't know because CR7 is something big, he has managed to build his brand and become international," said Mbappe. "Mine is not at this stage yet, I'm changing little by little."
That development into the public consciousness saw him dominate the front page of Time magazine in October with the American publisher breathlessly showcasing the teenage as "the future of football".