Kylian Mbappe is a “once-in-a-lifetime” talent whose value has almost doubled since he starred at the World Cup, but Monaco’s vice president Vadim Vasilyev believes the club’s production line should offer more stars to “surprise the football world” in the coming years.
Mbappe burst on to the world football scene as a 17-year-old during Monaco’s run to the Champions League semifinals and the Ligue 1 title in 2017, and the striker has since won a domestic treble with Paris Saint-Germain and won the 2018 World Cup with France.
“He [Mbappe] is a phenomenon, he’s the future Ballon d’Or,” Vasilyev told ESPN. “I knew it before and before he left he was at my house and I had a copy of the Ballon d’Or and took a photo of it and sent it to him, saying soon it will be yours.
“Now there are very few people that will doubt that as sometime in the near future it will be his. It happened quickly, but we knew it all along. He would’ve made it at any club in the world but the fact he had an amazing season with Monaco, in 2016-17 with the title and semifinals of the Champions League and national team debut that helped him to be there and explode at the World Cup.
“We are proud that he’s a product of our academy, we are proud that we have contributed to a world champion. We are proud that 20 years ago, we had four academy players in the team that won the World Cup, imagine that, so we continued the tradition in this World Cup.”
Vasliyev believes the evolution of the transfer market since Neymar’s world-record €222 million move to PSG last year means Mbappe is now worth in the region of €250-300m after a World Cup which saw him scoop the Best Young Player award as he helped France lift the trophy for a second time.
“Soccer and football as an industry is still gaining in popularity the world over,” Vasilyev said of rising transfer fees. “We have seen the young kids in the U.S. they now play soccer and in China they are investing massively into youth development, academies and pitches. Football has become a global game and there’s no competitor in sight. It will still grow, the growth will continue. The best days are yet to come.
When asked what price tag he would put on Mbappe now, Vasilyev replied: “I think his value is now €250-300m.”
He was one of three former Monaco players in the triumphant squad in Russia — alongside Thomas Lemar and Benjamin Mendy — while the club’s influence also extended to manager Didier Deschamps, who started his coaching career at the Ligue 1 side, and current Monaco defender Djibril Sidibe.
The club saw nine players leave this summer — generating £283m — but they have been replaced by young talents such as Jean-Eudes Aholou and Russia star Aleksandr Golovin, the latter bought for £27m.
It is part of a cyclical project at Monaco, with the club’s president Dmitry Rybolovlev behind it. By their own admission they are not one of the world’s top 10 sides and know that when one of those teams come in for a player, eventually they will have to sell if the fee is right.
That is what happened to Lemar this summer, who joined Atletico Madrid for £63m, and Fabinho, now at Liverpool for £40.5m having been steered away from linking up with PSG last season. That dissuasion came from Vasilyev who was reluctant to see Fabinho follow the ridiculously talented Mbappe to rivals PSG in the same window, who joined the French champions on loan last season and then permanently for a prearranged fee of €160m.
Vasilyev is excited about the likes of Ronaël Pierre-Gabriel, Willem Geubbels, Jonathan Panzo and Robert Navarro in their academy and they will be hoping to make an impact similar to Lemar and Mbappe, but there is no expectation they will be like-for-like replacements.
“The calibre of Mbappe is difficult as this happens once-in-a-lifetime of a club,” Vasilyev said. “We have some amazing talent and we will surprise the football world two or three years from now. These boys need time to develop, to become men, to become professional players but I think we’ll have some good surprises. Didier has a great relationship with our coach, Leonardo Jardim.”