Juventus legend Andrea Barzagli has revealed he told the club to sign Kylian Mbappe after he came up against him in 2017.
Barzagli, 40, was a key part of Massimiliano Allegri’s defence in the 2016/17 season as The Old Lady won a domestic double and reached the Champions League final, ultimately losing 4-1 to Real Madrid in Cardiff.
En route to the showpiece in Wales, Allegri’s side faced Monaco in the semi-finals, the season in which Leonardo Jardim’s famed Monegasques dethroned PSG for the Ligue 1, with the Italian club winning 4-1 on aggregate.
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The sole scorer for Monaco came from teenage sensation Mbappe, who showed Barzagli a clean pair of heels to get in behind him and finish past Gianluigi Buffon during the second leg in Turin.
Despite the insignificance of the strike in the outcome of the match, it served well to illuminate the burgeoning reputation of Monaco’s rising star, and it certainly caught the eye of Barzagli who, after getting caught out by the youngster, went straight to then Chief Football Officer Fabio Paratici after the match.
He told Tuttosport: “I remember like it was yesterday the feeling I felt in Monte Carlo against the 18-year-old Mbappe: he was going at 3000mph.
“At the end of the game I went to Fabio Paratici and told him: ‘What are we waiting for to get him?’
“The director made me understand that everyone already wanted him and it was practically impossible to approach Mbappe.”
Mbappe at Monaco
The 22-year-old Parisian enjoyed a meteoric rise to prominence on the French Riviera, becoming Monaco’s youngest-ever first-team player at the age 16, a record previously held by Thierry Henry, while he also became the youngest goalscorer, again supplanting the Arsenal legend.
That 2015/16 season got a first look at the youngster in fleeting moments, but it would be the following campaign where the name ‘Mbappe’ would hit the headlines, with the forward netting 26 goals in all competitions as Jardim’s now legendary Monaco won Ligue 1 and reached the Champions League semi-finals.
That squad also consisted of Fabinho, Bernardo Silva, Benjamin Mendy, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Thomas Lemar and Joao Moutinho, and it would be long before the covetous net of Europe’s elite was cast at the Stade Louis II, with a sale frenzy ensuing following that 2016/17 season.
Mbappe initially joined Paris Saint-Germain on loan before completing a £163m deal, becoming the second-most expensive player in the history of football after club teammate Neymar. Also in the top 30 most expensive transfers ever are Lemar from Monaco to Atletico Madrid and James Rodriguez from Monaco to Real Madrid.