Kylian Mbappe ensured that there is a new era upon us in the UEFA Champions League as he scored again against Barcelona to ensure Paris Saint-Germain’s progression into the quarter-finals with a 5-2 aggregate win.
After scoring a hat-trick in the first leg at the Camp Nou, Mbappe opened the scoring on the night converting a controversial penalty after Clement Lenglet alleged to have fouled Mauro Icardi in the box. Lionel Messi pulled one back six minutes later with a thunderbolt from outside the area, before he missed a penalty in first-half injury time.
Barcelona were unable to break the French champions down in the second half, with Mbappe a constant threat on the counter-attack as the Parisians settled for their first leg advantage to take them through.
It was the third time that Mbappe and Messi have been on the pitch together and the third time that the 22-year-old has come out on top, scoring six goals in those games.
With conversations circling about a potential passing of the torch from Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi to Erling Haaland and Mbappe, the truth is that Mbappe hasn’t been passed anything – he’s taken it.
In the same game that he became the youngest player to score 25 Champions League goals, Mbappe showed a maturity to his game that meant that while he was a constant threat he was also able to ensure that he did his job defensively at all times too.
It could potentially be the final game Messi plays in the Champions League as a Barcelona player, but it will be the tie more remembered for Mbappe’s level of performance in the first leg in particular.
After bursting onto the scene at AS Monaco, Mbappe has continued to develop at a rapid rate and at 22 years of age is already one of the best players in the world. There is almost certainly a Ballon d’Or or several waiting in his future and the world is genuinely at his feet.
While the likelihood of Mbappe reaching the heights and levels that Ronaldo and Messi reached are slim to none, there is no doubt in the mind of many that he is the heir to the throne and this tie only moved to further prove that football is in good hands going forward.
He is the best of his generation by a distance and it will go down in history as Mbappe took the crown, rather than had it passed down to him.