Pauleta and Thomas Tuchel have been saluting the potential of a 20-year-old frontman who continues to be compared with the very best on the planet. Kylian Mbappe is considered to be more of the Ronaldo mould than Lionel Messi-
His performances for club and country have positioned him among illustrious company and seen him regularly billed as a Ballon d’Or winner of the future. Former PSG striker Pauleta is in no doubt that Mbappe will one day claim that prestigious prize possibly on multiple occasions with there still much potential to be unlocked in one so young. He said of one of the most exciting talents to have emerged for some time: “It’s been two or three years now that he has been impressing everyone.
“He is a player who can make a difference at any time, he has reached a very high level and has already won a lot when still at the beginning of his career. He is a player who can make fans love PSG. He can reach the level of Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo and win several Ballons d’Or. He can also continue winning with PSG. The club has done a lot for him, I hope he will stay there. When you are young, you can always learn and go even higher.”
Pressed on whether Mbappe will go on to become more like mercurial Argentine Messi or Portuguese goal machine Ronaldo, Pauleta added: “He reminds me more of Cristiano Ronaldo, who started on one side and evolved more and more. “I see him finishing like a No. 9 but today he is not one yet. I prefer him on the left side as he likes to go inside with his right foot. He has more space on one side to make his power count. He could evolve into a No. 10, though, behind one or two attackers.”
Among those with the power to mould Mbappe’s future role is current PSG boss Thomas Tuchel. He has seen the youngster thrive as a talismanic striker over recent weeks during the injury-enforced absence of fellow frontmen Edinson Cavani and Neymar. Tuchel believes that is the position that Mbappe will eventually settle in. He said ahead of a Champions League clash with Manchester United on Wednesday: “I do not see him as a Messi but as a real attacker. “But, for me, he can become the best striker in the world. He’s on the way towards that.” Pressed on whether similarities could be drawn with another Ronaldo – the Brazilian World Cup winner Tuchel added: “Yes, it’s a good comparison. I never thought about it, but it’s a good comparison.”