At the young ages of only 30 and 23, Neymar Jr. and Kylian Mbappe are can't-miss players that are essentially unstoppable. As these stars set records, new salary caps, and so much more, the two athletes are changing the game of soccer before our eyes.
Neymar Jr. - Brazil
At 30 years old, Neymar has forever changed soccer history. In 2017 he became the most expensive soccer transfer the world has ever seen after leaving FC Barcelona for PSG with a price tag of $262 million. And some might say he’s worth every penny.
Neymar’s talent has earned him comparisons with Brazilian legend Ronaldinho. At one point, he was widely claimed to be next in line for the “best player in the world” title as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi begin to slow down.
During Neymar’s time in Barcelona, the Brazilian won two league titles, one Champions League trophy, and three Copa del Rey trophies, scoring 105 goals in 186 matches.
With his new club PSG, it’s simply more of the same. He’s shown to be unstoppable with 187 goal contributions (goals or assists) in 163 matches for the French club.
But Neymar’s glory isn’t limited to the club level, after all, Brazil is the most successful nation in the history of the FIFA World Cup and expectations are high. And Neymar has delivered. He is now the fourth all-time goal scorer for Brazil at just 30 years of age with 129 goal contributions in 121 appearances.
He helped his country win its first-ever gold medal in the 2016 Summer Olympics, beating Germany in the final and extending his legacy. Neymar is also a huge point of reference in the Brazil attack going into the World Cup, where he will seek redemption after not performing up to Brazil’s expectations in Russia 2018.
The Brazilian is at the peak of his career and everything he touches seemingly turns to gold; his style of play is flashy yet effective, true to the Brazilian soccer style. But Neymar has a score to settle in Qatar 2022 and all the tools in his arsenal to settle it. The stage is set this fall; all that’s left to see is if Neymar is the man to deliver and lead his country to a record sixth World Cup trophy.
Kylian Mbappe - France
The young French cheetah is known for his pace and goal-scoring ability, much like the aforementioned players. Although he may not be as decorated as the others (yet), he has plenty of time on his side at just 23 years of age.
Mbappe has surpassed Messi, Ronaldo, and Neymar’s goal-scoring tally when they were his age showing just how good he is. He has 332 goal contributions in 301 appearances all-time, with easily a decade of peak-level playing time to go in his career.
Mbappe is the highest-valued player in the world at the moment, having just won the World Cup with France in his debut of the tournament in Russia in 2018. He scored 4 goals throughout the tournament, right behind golden-boot winner Harry Kane (6). As if he wasn’t already known around the world to be the next GOAT, teams lined up to sign him when his contract was coming to an end at his club, Paris Saint Germain.
When the young Frenchman was considering a move away from PSG last summer, President Macron even weighed in and gave him a call, urging him to renew a contract deal. Mbappe, with the entirety of the world waiting for his next move, decided to sign a deal worth $250 million that would keep him in Paris until 2025. Not only is he the world’s highest-paid player, but he has also been given the power to run the club as he sees fit (as if he was the sporting director and the team's best player at the same time).
With Neymar and Messi having joined him in Paris, Mbappe is at the wheel and will hope to impress in this year’s competition of the Champions League where PSG has yet to make it to a final. That will have to wait, however, as the Qatar World Cup is set to have one of these athletes face off against each other in the Quarterfinals, assuming they all make it there.