Led by the irrepressible form of teen forward Kylian Mbappe, Monaco is winning widespread admiration for a scintillating brand of attacking football that has produced 126 goals so far this season.
The 18-year-old Mbappe, with his lightning speed, trickery and calm finishing, is the talk of European soccer. He made it 11 goals in 11 games when he scored the first goal in a 3-1 win on Wednesday night as Monaco knocked out Manchester City on the away goals rule to reach the Champions League quarterfinals.
He had scored in the first leg and so far this season has netted 17 goals. That is impressive enough given his young age, even more so considering he was still playing in the reserves until mid-October.
Europe’s biggest clubs will be queuing up to sign Mbappe, whose skillful yet direct style of play is drawing early comparisons to France great Thierry Henry.
His reported value is already estimated at around 60 million euros ($65 million). But before going anywhere else, Mbappe has unfinished business with Monaco.
“I’m making the most of it and I hope it’s just the beginning,” Mbappe said. “It feels incredible.”
Mbappe’s strength, skill and awareness when dropping deep into midfield helped to start the move that led to Monaco’s second goal on Wednesday. Club vice-president Vadim Vasilyev praises him for having remarkable composure.
“What surprises me is the way he manages to keep a cool head despite all the media pressure he’s under,” Vasilyev said.
Monaco finds out its quarterfinal opponent on Friday, but must not lose sight of its domestic ambitions.
“We’re ready to face anyone,” Vasilyev said. “The Champions League is a bonus, our priority is the league.”
Monaco leads second-place Paris Saint-Germain the French league by three points effectively four given Monaco’s huge goal difference and is also still involved in both domestic cups. Monaco faces PSG in the League Cup final next month.
Although Mbappe is the brightest talent in Monaco’s team, he’s far from the only one.
Left back Benjamin Mendy (who is 22 years old), winger Thomas Lemar (21) and holding midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko (22) were all outstanding against City.
“These players have huge talent,” Vasilyev said. “But they’re also a close-knit squad.”