French, 19, Soccer
The teenage sensation proving the future is now
Representatives: Josep Maria Minguella
Key partners: Nike
As a disconsolate Lionel Messi shook hands with Kylian Mbappé at the Kazan Arena in Russia, he may as well have been handing the French teenager a torch. Mbappé had spent the preceding 90 minutes gliding past Messi and his Argentina teammates, scoring twice and simultaneously crushing any flickering hope that one of soccer’s greatest ever players might yet win the Fifa World Cup.
Equipped with a keen eye for goal and irrepressible confidence, Mbappé has already commanded a €145 million transfer fee from Paris Saint-Germain, lifted the most coveted team prize in international soccer and been nominated for the Ballon d’Or. He turns 20 in December.
For too long the world has wondered who might dislodge Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo from soccer’s throne, but Mbappé has burst out of the poor Parisian banlieue of Bondy to steal a lead on his peers. Bound to be the subject of further mega-bids from Europe’s elite clubs, his image now decorates Nike’s marketing campaigns throughout Europe, while his crossed-arm celebration is mimicked in school grounds and amateur pitches across the globe.
Mbappé himself has admitted that this is just the beginning, but don’t let that fool you: his time is now. SC