Football legend Pele told Kylian Mbappe on Tuesday that he believes the French World Cup winner can emulate his own achievement of scoring 1,000 career goals.
The 78-year-old Brazilian claims to have netted over 1,000 goals in his career, while Mbappe has so far managed 103 in total, with 92 of those coming at the top level.
“It’s possible, I scored exactly 1,025, so 1,000 goals is possible for him,” Pele told AFP in Paris, where he met Mbappe at a sponsor event for Hublot watches.
Mbappe, who last year became only the second teenager to score in a World Cup final after Pele in France’s 4-2 victory over Croatia, played down Pele’s comments.
“I think that even if we count the goals on inter-city pitches and goals on the PlayStation, I won’t be able to reach the 1,000-goal mark,” said the 20-year-old Paris Saint-Germain forward.
“We will try to get as close as we can, but I think I’ll be a long way off it at the end of my career.”
Mbappe has scored 32 goals in all competitions for PSG this season, including 27 from only 24 Ligue 1 appearances.
Pele was only 21 when he won his second World Cup in 1962, adding a third eight years later.
“There’s only one ‘King’ and he’s there,” said Mbappe. “I’m just Kylian, I’m trying to do my best to help my team and my national side.
“The comparisons are flattering but I know very well that I will never do what he did.”
It was not the first time that Mbappe has had to temper comparisons with Pele, after a rush to crown him a future footballing great during the World Cup in Russia, where he scored four goals in total.
But the former Monaco striker insists that he is not focused on becoming the best player of modern times.
“When Pele was playing, he didn’t think he wanted to be the best player in history, he wanted to have fun, help his country and his club, which he did,” he said.
“What I want is to help PSG, the France team and afterwards it will be other people who tell you that you are the best.
“Everyone says that he is the best, but if you are (the best), there’s no need to say it. It’s not a goal for me.”
Pele spent the majority of his career at Santos in his home country, bar a spell in the United States with the New York Cosmos shortly before his retirement.
He told Mbappe, who has been repeatedly linked with a move away from PSG, that the key to smashing goalscoring records is playing in the very best teams.
“People tend to say that goals are the most important thing — I thank God for having scored so many in my career — but we must know that we need to be well-supported, you can’t score on your own, you need good teammates, that’s very important.”
Mbappe and his Paris teammates have only the French Cup left to fight for this season, with the Ligue 1 title all but secured and their Champions League campaign over after a humiliating defeat by Manchester United.
The only thing in football more contentious than a dubious refereeing decision is a rankings system.
There are plenty of them out there – though many are deliberately divisive – but given the tribal nature of football they do drum up some interesting debates among supporters.
We’re going to add our twist to the list. Each week we pick out the 10 best teams from Europe’s top-five leagues (minus cup competitions).
It’s not cumulative, the rankings is based on a team’s performance in that particular game week.
So, who makes the top-10 this week? Check out below.
1. Napoli (beat Roma 4-1)
The chasm in quality between Napoli and Roma is reflected in the 16-point gap between the two sides after Carlo Ancelotti’s outfit ripped the Romans apart. Intensity, desire and skill were all traits owned by Napoli in Rome as a 4-1 win strengthened their grip on second, while the host’s top-four ambitions slipped away. Arkadiusz Milik’s gorgeous opener was a delight, but Roma’s defence, as has been the case in 2019, throughout was wretched.
2. Leipzig (beat Hertha Berlin 5-0)
More pathetic defending as Hertha were at times pathetic but it should not take away from Leipzig’s thumping performance, particularly that of Yussuf Poulsen. The 24-year-old netted his first Bundesliga hat-trick and the third was an audaciously lofted strike, moving him onto 15 goals in 2018/19. Defensively, the third-placed side attained another clean sheet and their 20 goals conceded is a league’s best – Bayern Munich are second with 28.
3. Lazio (beat Inter 1-0)
Inter players are sick of talking about exiled Mauro Icardi. Perhaps if key players could do their talking on the pitch, no one would be mentioning the Argentine, though. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic stunned the Nerazzurri at San Siro as the Lazio attacker’s early header – delivered via a delicious cross from Luis Alberto – secured three points which vaulted his side into fifth. And 1-0 genuinely flattered Lazio because Samir Handanovic produced a string of saves to deny the visitors.
4. Atletico Madrid (beat Alaves 4-0)
There’s been a series of very un-Atletico performances in recent weeks, good and bad. The nadir of course was in their collective pragmatism crumbling into chaos before the international break through miserable defeats to Juventus and Athletic Bilbao. Considering they are the masters of 1-0 wins, a 4-0 demolition of European-chasing Alaves was equally surprising, as too the identity of the game’s best goal. Indeed, Thomas Partey’s piledriver competes with Lionel Messi’s Paneka free-kick for La Liga’s best goal this weekend.
5. Sampdoria (beat AC Milan 1-0)
The city of Milan must have been cloaked in grey after AC, too, fell to a shock loss. Gianluigi Donnarumma committed a catastrophic error 33 seconds into the clash with Sampdoria, passing straight into the feet of Gregoire Defrel to tap home. A disjointed display followed, the Rossoneri failing to match the aggression of their bullish boss Gennaro Gattuso and the hosts. In truth, Fabio Quagliarella should have enraged Gattuso further had he not crashed an effort against the bar.
6. Hoffenheim (beat Bayer Leverkusen 4-1)
A talented young coach beats a talented young crop of players. Julian Nagelsmann is rounding out his Hoffenheim career in fine fashion after his side battered a Bayer Leverkusen outfit containing golden boys Kai Havertz, Julian Brandt and Leon Bailey. Ishak Belfodil, Joelinton and Andrej Kramaric delivered match-winning displays in a triumph for collective spirit over the individual ability. Leipzig will have a lot of fun with Nagelsmann at the helm next season.
7. Liverpool (beat Tottenham 2-1)
Fortune favours the brave. Liverpool were incredibly lucky to come away from an entertaining contest with Tottenham with three precious points. On top in the first-half, the Reds led through a beautifully crafted goal as Andy Robertson’s caressed cross found the head of Roberto Firmino. Spurs responded after the break, though, dominating the agenda before scripting a fine equaliser finished by Lucas Moura. Destined for a draw, Hugo Lloris’ crass injury-time error gifted Jurgen Klopp’s side the victory.
8. Barcelona (beat Espanyol 2-0)
Yes, yes we know Lionel Messi scored both goals in the Catalan derby, the first of which was an absurd lofted free-kick from the edge of the box, but appreciation is reserved for Clement Lenglet. It was another fierce performance from the French defender and he matched the art of Messi by producing an intricate interception to deny Wu Lei a certain equaliser. As a unit, Barca have been far better but after the international break, this was a good result as they close in on the title.
9. Freiburg (drew 1-1 Bayern Munich)
Niko Kovac bemoaned an attitude problem as Bayern surrendered their slim Bundesliga advantage to Borussia Dortmund. The Croatian warned of Freiburg’s ability to upset the Bavarian giants but that message was clearly not heeded as the home side went ahead after just three minutes. Lucas Hoeler, who scored a late equaliser in Munich in November, towered over Mats Hummels to head home. The champions hit back 20 minutes later, Robert Lewandowski hooking in the equaliser with an elegant finish. The Pole hit the post in added time, but Freiburg stoically held on for a point.
10. Everton (beat West Ham 2-0)
Manuel Pellegrini branded their loss on Saturday as their worst performance of the season – it was Everton’s best, however. In the first half, the visitors found so much joy in wide areas, repeatedly pumelling the channels to leave the Hammers disorganised and disorientated. First-half goals from Kurt Zouma and Bernard secured a 2-0 win for the dominant Blues and kept them firmly in the hunt for a potential Europa League spot.
In a fast and furious first half, Sheraldo Becker fired Den Haag ahead before Buitink equalised with a close-range finish.
Buitink then made it 2-1 with a great solo effort before Lex Immers equalised for Den Haag four minutes later.
Two minutes before the half-time break Buitink sealed his hat-trick to give Vitesse a 3-2 lead, but Den Haag came out fighting in the second half and Immers was on target again to seal a draw for the hosts in the 76th minute.
Vitesse remain fifth in the table while Den Haag lie 13th.