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Kylian Mbappe’s World Cup has been eerily similar to Ronaldo’s 1998 showing

The similarities between Kylian Mbappe and O Fenomeno Ronaldo don't end at devastating speed

We’d been here before.

The gazelle-like acceleration from a standing start, leaving defenders holding on for dear life and thinking of happier times from their childhood.

The ball attached to the Nike Mercurial boots as if they were lathered in a potent mixture of superglue and honey.

The reaction from team-mates as they watch magic unfurl in a blaze of high knees while the commentator struggles to put words to rapid-fire pictures.

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Kylian Mbappe’s one-man destruction of Argentina was the closest thing we’ve seen to O Fenomeno Ronaldo.

But, when talking about R9, you’ve got to make it clear which iteration you’re comparing to. The Ronaldo witnessed at Real Madrid was very different to the one turning out under Sir Bobby Robson at Barcelona.

In Mbappe’s case it’s the R9 pre-knee injury. Specifically, the R9 who brought Rio Carnival to households worldwide during the 1998 World Cup.

The (close your eyes and ears Lionel Messi/Cristiano Ronaldo fanboys) most devastating phenomenon ever to lace up a pair of football boots.

The only way to stop him

Getty - Contributor
The only way to stop him

But the comparisons between Mbappe and ’98 Ronaldo aren’t purely physical. As tends to be the way with football, there’s some eerily similar parallels.

Ronaldo came into the ’98 World Cup on the back of a first season at a new club to which he’d moved in controversial circumstances.

In the summer of 1997 Ronaldo joined Inter Milan in a world-record transfer despite Barcelona thinking they’d tied the Brazilian down to a nine-year contract.

The ‘deal for life’ proved to be one season and out for Barcelona.

Iconic stripes

Iconic stripes

Mbappe has just finished his first season at PSG, but the fact he’s technically only on loan tells you all you need to know about that deal and Financial Fair Play.

When he does eventually sign permanently for PSG he’ll become the most expensive teenager in world football.

The mooted transfer fee is roughly six times that which took Ronaldo to Milan. Inflation, what a magic.

Our Kylian looks dead smart

AFP or licensors
Our Kylian looks dead smart

Then there’s the respective World Cup campaigns.

Ronaldo kicked off his tournament by playing the entire 90 minutes of a 2-1 win against Scotland, although he didn’t find the back of the net.

Mbappe played the full game against Australia in a 2-1 win but, like R9, wasn’t able to bother the scorers.

In the second group game both Ronaldo and Mbappe got off the mark against Morocco and Peru respectively.

The final group game saw neither score as both Brazil and France dropped points against Scandinavian opposition.


Ronaldo stepped up in the quarter-final against South American opposition by scoring twice as Brazil put four goals past Chile.

Mbappe? Two goals against South American opposition as France put four past Argentina.

Illuminati confirmed.

Hands to the sky if you’re a GOAT

AP:Associated Press
Hands to the sky if you’re a GOAT

Of course that’s where the comparisons end. For now.

Ronaldo put Denmark and Netherlands to the sword before infamously coming up short in the final against the hosts.

Five months later Mbappe was born in Paris, the city that hosted the final.

The footballing circle of life. It’s a beautiful thing.

Vote Kylian for President

Vote Kylian for President