Paris Saint-Germain's Gianluigi Buffon: Kylian Mbappe can reach Pele, Maradona, Messi, Ronaldo level
Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has praised new teammate Kylian Mbappe after his incredible World Cup triumph with France in Russia this summer, saying that he can become as great as Pele, Diego Maradona, Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Mbappe, 19, scored four goals and was voted the tournament's best young player as Les Bleus beat Croatia 4-2 in the final to complete their triumph and Buffon is in little doubt that the former Monaco striker is a legend in the making.
"Kylian has something more than the others," Buffon told PSG's official club magazine. "I hope that he will remain humble and maintain his desire to progress and make sacrifices. If Kylian does that, then he will leave his mark on football history and write some incredible pages in sporting history."
Buffon also revealed that Juventus defender Andrea Barzagli had been run ragged by Mbappe during the 2017 Champions League semifinal against Monaco and he knew about the France international's searing pace from that moment.
"When I spoke with Andrea, one of my great friends, at the end of the match, he told me: 'Gigi, in my 20 years as a professional football player, I have rarely seen somebody so fast and so quick even with the ball -- I had trouble marking him,'" said Buffon. "These words are not trivial. Andrea, when he is focused and on song, is a great defender. We both agreed with Giorgio [Chiellini] that Kylian had superhuman qualities.
"If he can stay grounded and focused on his objectives he can become as great as Pele, Diego Maradona, Ronaldo and Lionel Messi."
Buffon is not the only one impressed by Mbappe, PSG chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi has told told BeIn Sports that he is "sure" that the French prodigy will win the Ballon d'Or in the future.
"The greatest talent in the world, not only France, is Kylian," the Qatari chief said. "He is an exemplary boy and he works very hard -- I am sure that he will win the Ballon d'Or one day.
"Kylian has everything that he needs in order to achieve this. It is really important for us, particularly as he comes from the Paris region. We want Parisian players to play in Paris, not for other clubs."
PSG get their Ligue 1 season underway against Caen at Parc des Princes on Sunday and Mbappe, who has only just returned to training, could be involved in the match if he proves his fitness to coach Thomas Tuchel. Buffon should also make his Ligue 1 debut and he said that he has been curious about PSG for many years now.
"I have followed PSG closely for the past three years," he said. "First of all, because I had friends like Marco [Verratti] and Salvatore [Sirigu] playing there.
"Then, I wanted to understand why such a strong team could not make the jump at certain points in the season, like against Barcelona and Real Madrid in the Champions League -- I think that the main reason is that PSG has only recently become a top side over the past six years.
"So, it takes time. However, I also think that if there is a strong identity, a squad, a dressing room and a strong coach, that this time could be reduced.
"Together, we can create a great squad. If there is a great squad, we can win against anybody and win any competition."