Football News

Gary Lineker: Kylian Mbappe can emulate Cristiano Ronaldo, but not Lionel Messi

By Ben Green

Published: 13:14, 15 June 2021

Gary Lineker believes Kylian Mbappe can reach the heights of Cristiano Ronaldo but won’t be able to emulate Lionel Messi, who “can do things that others simply can’t”.

Mbappe, 22, has already catapulted himself to superstardom and is currently one of Europe’s most gifted players, winning silverware aplenty in his native France, as well as lifting the 2018 World Cup with Les Bleus, in which he became only the second teenager, after Pele, to score in a final.

Endowed with breakneck speed, elite ball control and an insatiable scoring appetite, Mbappe has all the attributes to stay at the top of the sport for the next decade, but former Barcelona forward Lineker does not believe the young Parisian can match the unprecedented feats of Messi.

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“Mbappe is already a global superstar who is most likely to jump in the shoes of Ronaldo, but not Messi – he can do things that others simply can’t,” Lineker told Goal.

“Talent-wise, there’s no question. It’s more about whether he has the same drive to sustain his career over 17, 19 years like the two of them (Ronaldo and Messi). It’s quite remarkable and it takes something special to do that.

“Ability-wise, he could go on to do those things with big rumours about Real Madrid. Does he need to move on from PSG to realise his ambitions of greatness? Maybe, I don’t know, but I don’t think it will distract him from the tournament itself.”

“I love Sancho and I think people will be surprised how good he is”

Lineker went on to discuss the players he feels could make a splash at Euro 2020, earmarking Jadon Sancho as a someone who could surprise one or two people.

The Borussia Dortmund forward has impressed since trading Manchester City for the Ruhr Valley and is now a reported target of Manchester United.

Despite making Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the competition, the rising star was omitted altogether from his matchday squad for the Croatia opener.

Sancho, 21, finished the 2020/21 season with eight goals and 11 assists in the Bundesliga, but that was not enough to warrant a place on the Wembley bench on Sunday in Southgate’s eyes.

The Three Lions were pragmatic and dogged in their 1-0 win, in which Raheem Sterling netted the only goal of the game, but Lineker still believes Sancho is one of the nation’s brightest sparks despite the shun.

Lineker said: “We saw Erling Haaland and Mbappe coming through in the Champions League and we will see it again at the Euros, with Mbappe. Hopefully, with one or two England lads like Phil Foden, Mason Mount and Jadon Sancho [also doing well].

“I love Sancho and I think people will be surprised how good he is without watching as much foreign football. I am excited about Jude Bellingham, Nicolo Barella as well. There’s also a lot of quality within the France team.”