Mbappe can be a Messi, Ronaldo: Griezmann

·2-min read

Kylian Mbappe could not only succeed Neymar as king of Paris St Germain but also become a football great in the Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo bracket, reckons French star Antoine Griezmann.

The glowing tribute from Griezmann, who had just seen his Barcelona side ripped apart 4-1 by his fellow French World Cup winner's hat-trick in the Champions League on Tuesday, has been echoed throughout the European game.

Seasons change but the fact that PSG are still yet to fully be able to rely on Neymar doesn't - and now the most expensive player in football history is getting overshadowed by his 22-year-old strike partner.

Mbappe has recently faced a wave of criticism in his home country. His performances have received bad reviews from the media and the lack of goals in important games, such as the 2-1 win against Olympique Marseille in the French Super Cup, didn't help his case.

But the Barcelona game look set to be a turning point for him.

"Every player is criticised, I don't have problems with that. I don't play to shut people up, but because I like to play," Mbappe said after his gala evening.

In the absence of Neymar, who already missed 46 games due to injury or illness since joining PSG in 2017, Mbappe has stepped up as the leading character on the pitch.

His performance against Barca also raised questions if he can become a football great on the same level of Messi and Ronaldo.

Griezmann has no doubts. "Kylian had a great evening. PSG have a big star for the future, who will be on the same level of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo," he predicted.

Mbappe, who has a contract with PSG until June 2022, insisted his focus remained with PSG right now, despite the keen attentions of clubs like Real Madrid.

"The [PSG] jersey touches my heart," he said.

Former Argentine World Cup winner and Spanish soccer sage Jorge Valdano believes that "after this game, Mbappe is further away than ever from Real Madrid."

"He can ask for a 30 million euros (36.2 million dollars) salary, same as Neymar, and only PSG can pay this," he told Spanish radio Onda Cera.

There was a sense of changing of the guard at Barcelona's Nou Camp where Mbappe quite eclipsed Messi.

The great Argentine actually scored 58 fewer goals than Mbappe by the time he turned 23 and the Frenchman has now hit 24 goals in European football, compared to just 17 for Messi at the same age.

The trend continues in their respective domestic competitions - Mbappe now just four short of 100 goals in Ligue 1, while Messi had struck 54 for Barcelona in LaLiga.

Continuing to surpass Messi's record-breaking tally, though, may prove a very different proposition.