There is only one man who can claim this award for 2017. Everyone knows who it is. He has been simply sensational – his name is Kylian Mbappe.
Before we look at why Mbappe has been the breakthrough star of 2017, honourable mentions include: Ousmane Dembele, Gabriel Jesus, Christian Pulisic, Marco Asensio, Andreas Christensen and Thomas Lemar.
So why is Kylian Mbappe the breakthrough star of 2017?
Mbappe, had impressed in the Champions League group stages and in his fleeting appearances in Ligue 1 in late 2016. But nobody at that point realised just how good he was. He only started to catch the world’s attention when the Champions League reached the knockout stages in February 2017.
In the first leg of the last 16 of the Champions League against Manchester City, Mbappe destroyed John Stones using his electric speed and wonderful dribbling. The goal he scored was class personified. A lovely clipped ball was played through to him by Fabinho and on the half volley, just inside the box, he slammed it into the top corner. It was the type of finish you would expect to see from a proven, world-class 30-year-old striker.
Mbappe’s wonderful performance struck fear in opposition players around the world. Now everyone in football knew the name Kylian Mbappe.
Mbappe continued his lethal form in both the Champions League and Ligue 1. He went on to score in 4 consecutive Champions League matches – home and away against both City and Borussia Dortmund (including a double at the Westfalsenstadion away to Dortmund) a Champions League record for a teenager. He was also the first teenager to score 6 goals in the Champions League knock-out stages and was the youngest player at 18 years old to score in a Champions League semi-final match, against Juventus in May 2017. In Ligue 1 he became the second youngest player to score a hat-trick, the youngest player in the last 30 years to score 10 or more goals in a single season and the youngest player to score 15 goals in a single season. He finished the Ligue 1 season with 15 goals in 29 appearances, an excellent return for an 18-year-old.
By the end of last season, Mbappe was the most in-demand player in the whole of world football. Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), Barcelona, Arsenal and Man City all were desperate to sign him. In the end, he moved to French giants PSG.
Mbappe has picked up where he left last season, starring for PSG on the right wing of a front three alongside Edinson Cavani and the world’s most expensive player – Neymar.
Mbappe’s most impressive performance for PSG so far was in their 3-0 win over Bayern Munich in September. He gave David Alaba, one of the world’s best left backs’, a torrid evening. His best moment of the game came in the second half when he ran at Alaba with the ball and produced a beautiful dummy using great balance and skill to feint and role the ball under his foot. This bamboozled Alaba inside the penalty box and allowed him the space to pass to Neymar who scored. This piece of play showed his brilliance.
Mbappe has continued to impress for PSG this season scoring 8 goals in 14 Ligue 1 games and 4 goals in 6 Champions League matches.
Mbappe’s performances and stats make him the best teenager to grace a football pitch since Ronaldo, the Brazilian striker, who tormented defences in Brazil and across Europe as a teenager in the mid-1990s.
2017 was the year a new star was born and his name is Kylian Mbappe.