It’s been brewing for the past few seasons, but for the 2022-23 campaign, the rivalry between Kylian Mbappé and Erling Haaland should take center stage.
This summer, both superstar players had monumental decisions. Erling Haaland was under contract at Borussia Dortmund, but with an affordable buyout close, it was a forgone conclusion that a big club would make him an offer and that’s exactly what Manchester City did. For Kylian Mbappé, his decision was to decide between signing a new contract at Paris Saint-Germain, or leave for Real Madrid. As seen here, he made the right decision:
The Mbappé contract is definitely the more surprising of the two decisions. The Frenchman could have gone to the reigning UEFA Champions League winners and played in a more high-profile league. Staying at PSG is a bold choice for the simple fact that it will be his performances in the Champions League where he will be judged the most.
Haaland will have more opportunities to impress. Not only is the Premier League more difficult than Ligue 1, but it’s also the most high-profile league in Europe. If Haaland can dominate England and then go on in the Champions League and score crucial goals for Pep Guardiola’s side, it will be difficult for Mbappé to steal the spotlight.
The Champions League is where we’ll see these two fantastic players battle it out for the title of the “Best Footballer in the World.” This will be the new Lionel Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo except Mbappé and Haaland play in two separate leagues and only by the luck of the draw will we see them pitted against each other.
Not only will the players be fighting for supremacy, but PSG and Manchester City are in a race to see which super club can win a Champions League title after years of big spending. Both have reached a final but failed to win it. With Mbappé and Haaland committed for several years, there’s no question both teams will try and surround them with the best players to finally achieve Champions League glory.
Aside from team trophies, the Ballon d’Or is coveted by both players. Mbappé will have to be nearly perfect to have any chance of winning the trophy. He will have to win Ligue 1, the Coupe de France, and the Champions League and be the catalyst for PSG. Haaland could likely still win the trophy simply through impressive performances and a couple of domestic trophies.
It’s unknown whether there is any bad blood between the players. When PSG faced Dortmund at the outset of the pandemic, the French giants defeated Dortmund in the knockout stage of the Champions League and went on to mock Haaland’s goal celebration. The Norway international took it in stride, but I think if and when the two face off on the pitch again, Haaland will want to silence Mbappé and vice versa. Hopefully, we get a glimpse of this burgeoning rivalry firsthand this season.