Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger knows a thing or two about young, French strikers that play for Monaco. After all, not only did the 67-year-old manage the club in the late 80’s and early 90’s, but that’s where he first signed superstar Thierry Henry. The legendary Henry went on to play five senior seasons with Monaco before a short disappointing spell with Juventus, and finally reuniting with Wenger at Arsenal.
Henry was a brilliant talent. Quick, sharp, full of tricks, and lethal finishing abilities made him one of the Premier League’s greatest ever strikers. Following the Frenchman’s retirement from soccer, there have been multiple players set to be “the next Thierry Henry” (Theo Walcott & Anthony Martial for instance). While comparisons such as these can be a slippery slope, it can be useful to help explain a youngster’s attributes and how their game compares to proven players.
Enter Kylian Mbappe. The highly-rated 18-year-old forward is certainly one of Ligue 1’s biggest teenage talents and Wenger believes he does have quite a few similarities with his former player Henry.
“[Mbappe] is not exactly Thierry Henry, but it is true that he has similar qualities and the future and talent is similar,” Wenger explained on The Ligue 1 Show. “The potential is similar, after that if he has the same level of motivation, desire and intelligence that Thierry has, and the next two to three years will tell us that, then he can be very promising.”
Wenger continued, ”The guys that have super talent are already playing at 18. Those who are not playing at 18 or 19 do not have that exceptional talent and he does play over here at the top level. He is a guy who is electric like Thierry was, can dribble, can pass and is efficient.”
“We follow him, we know him very well, and he is developing well. He extended his contract with Monaco last season and so it’s Monaco who are going to decide his future. He could be another Thierry Henry.”
That is definitely high praise from someone who knows Henry so well. Statistically speaking, Mbappe has only featured a total of 518 minutes for Monaco during Ligue 1 play during the current campaign. Nevertheless, the youngster has made his mark on the team while on the pitch with the big boys. During this short time, Mbappe has scored three goals and also added five assists. The teenager also managed a hat-trick during Monaco’s 7-0 thrashing of Rennes during the Coupe de la Ligue back in December as well.
During the 2015/16 season, Mbappe broke two of Henry’s records on Monaco. First, the teenager became the club’s youngest ever player to feature in a league match (16 years and 347 days). Two months later, Mbappe scored against Troyes to become the team’s youngest ever goalscorer (17 years and 62 days).
Arsenal fans will be hoping Mbappe follows Henry’s footsteps even further. From the French Riviera, across the England Channel, and all the way to the Emirates Stadium in north London. Although the Gunners have plenty of firepower at the moment, the 18-year-old Mbappe would potentially have plenty of time to settle into the squad should a move to Arsenal come to fruition in the near future.