Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappé will likely be the two candidates vying for the “best footballer in the world” title now that Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have left Europe.
Mbappé took the lead by winning the 2018 FIFA World Cup. However, Haaland responded by lifting the 2023 UEFA Champions League trophy. As a result, CBS Sports’ Nico Cantor believes the 24-year-old has to match that accomplishment by Haaland this 2023-24 season.
“At this point, with Messi gone, with [Cristiano] Ronaldo gone, the podium for the candidates has to be Haaland, Mbappé, and whoever wishes to be there,” Canto said. “But we’re in that new generation, and with Haaland playing the way that he’s playing, making a Champions League final, Mbappé’s gotta feel a certain responsibility to elevate PSG.
“Finally, it’s not Messi’s team anymore. It’s not Neymar’s team anymore. This is the Parisian Mbappé team that has been put together. They’re pretty deep. My question mark was in the midfield, but if you see this and you’re Mbappé, and you don’t make the most out of it, I think it’s a missed opportunity.”
Cantor is correct that Paris Saint-Germain is now Mbappé’s team. Messi and Neymar Jr. are gone, so he’s the superstar at the center of the project. Furthermore, the capital club brought a running mate he’s comfortable with in Ousmane Dembélé, who takes over the No. 10.
The Ligue 1 giants have built a young squad filled with depth, and they’re not done yet. Still, all the pressure will be on Mbappé to get the team past the Round of 16. The French club has failed to reach the quarterfinals in the last two seasons.