'He's already the best in France' – Ronaldinho says Mbappe will continue making history after agreeing PSG stay

By Sports Desk May 27, 2022

Kylian Mbappe is already the best player in France and can continue to make history after signing his new contract with Paris Saint-Germain, according to Ronaldinho.

Last week, Mbappe agreed a new three-year deal with the Ligue 1 champions, rejecting Real Madrid's public advances in a huge transfer blow to the Champions League finalists.

The World Cup-winning forward scored 39 goals and added 21 assists during a remarkable individual season with PSG, as Mauricio Pochettino's team secured a10th league title in the club's history.

The 23-year-old is already the second-highest Ligue 1 goalscorer in PSG history, scoring 171 goals in 217 league outings for the Parisian giants – only Edinson Cavani (200 goals in 301 games) has more.

Former PSG star Ronaldinho, who scored 25 goals in two seasons with the club before departing for Barcelona in 2003, says Mbappe is already out-shining team-mates Lionel Messi and Neymar.

However, Ronaldinho also insisted PSG would have been able to cope had the France star left for Madrid, highlighting the quality of his team-mates.

"Right now, of the future... he's a player that could be part of history," he told Mail Online. "He deserves all the respect he's getting. He is making history and can continue to create happiness for us in this game.

"Today he is the best player for PSG. If he left to go anywhere else, it would only be to have the chance to be the best player in another country. He's already the best in France.

"Paris Saint-Germain has some of the best players in the world right now – Messi, Neymar, Sergio Ramos. 

"Some of the best players in the world are in this team. So, if one of the best players in the world leaves, other top players will continue in their place."

 

Meanwhile, Ronaldinho's former Barcelona team-mate Messi endured a mixed first season in France, recording 11 goals and 14 assists in all competitions but being jeered by his own fans in the aftermath of March's Champions League defeat to Madrid.

However, Ronaldinho insists the Argentine is happy in Paris, highlighting his 2021 Ballon d'Or win as evidence of his continued quality.

The former Camp Nou star also insists Barcelona will recover from Messi's departure and return to the top of the game under Xavi's management, backing the Blaugrana boss to create another "beautiful" team.

'If my friend is happy, it's the right decision, and I believe he is very happy," Ronaldinho said of Messi. "He is going through a period of adapting, but he's already been voted the best player in the world.

"People said they were surprised when I left Barcelona and when Messi left. But Barcelona continues to be Barcelona. 

"Things change in football, naturally. Now the club's hierarchy needs to bring in new players with talent to continue being successful.

"They already have a great coach who has a foundation in the history of the club. So, the club can begin it's rebuild with this manager to create a beautiful team. They need to now give the manager the opportunity to build a great team.

"It won't be easy. They need a bit more time to build a side that is based around the best players. But I think players are happy to be playing for one of the best teams in the world."

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    St. Louis City will be desperate to snap a record six-game winless run in MLS when they host Colorado Rapids at CityPark Stadium on Thursday.

    The Missouri-based side have just three wins from their 17 league matches this term, falling down to 11th in the Western Conference standings.

    Bradley Carnell's men have not triumphed in MLS action since a 3-1 win over Chicago Fire in the middle of May, and were defeated 2-0 by FC Dallas last time out.

    St. Louis coach Carnell referenced injury struggles, however, as his side continue to battle through a troubling period.

    "Obviously, it doesn’t take a genius to look at the roster and see where we are. We're not the first team to struggle with this.

    "Now we get challenged and now get to prove what we are as a group, team, organisation and unit – sticking together.

    "We have a plethora of young players who are performing [for our academy] and we will keep some of those guys with us through the week."

    The Rapids have enjoyed a better season, sitting sixth in the West table after returning to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over Austin FC at Dick's Sporting Goods Park.

    That ended a four-game winless streak for Colorado, who secured a much-needed victory after a rocketed finish from Cole Bassett before Rafael Navarro netted his 10th goal of the season.

    The next challenge for the Rapids is to secure back-to-back victories for the first time since April, though they have lost three straight on the road.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    St. Louis City – Jared Stroud

    Jared Stroud was involved in a goal in both matches (one goal, one assist) against the Rapids last season.

    The St. Louis man has eight assists to his name in MLS this season, too, and will hope to deliver once more when Colorado come to town.

    Colorado Rapids – Djordje Mihailovic

    Djordje Mihailovic has scored in each of the Rapids' last three away matches.

    He is the first Rapids player to score in three straight away from home in a single regular season since Shkelzen Gashi scored in five straight on the road from June-October 2016.

    MATCH PREDICTION – ST. LOUIS CITY WIN

    St. Louis are the heavy favourites for victory in this encounter, considering their record against the Rapids.

    Carnell's side collected four points from their two matches against Colorado last season, including a 2-0 win at home last July.

    Colorado have lost their last three road matches, conceding 10 goals in those games, and that run of form comes as no surprise.

    Indeed, the Rapids have lost 15 of their last 21 away from home in all competitions (W3 D3), dating back to last May.

    Yet a home win is by no means a foregone conclusion.

    St. Louis are winless in six straight matches (D2 L4) for the first time in club history. They have just three wins so far, tied for the fewest in MLS this season, though all three have come at home.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

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  • Euro 2024 data dive: Records for Guler, Ronaldo and Pepe as Group F begins with a bang Euro 2024 data dive: Records for Guler, Ronaldo and Pepe as Group F begins with a bang

    The first matchdays of each group at Euro 2024 are now over, after the final pool got started in style on Tuesday.

    First, Turkiye and Georgia served up an unlikely classic in Dortmund, before Portugal beat Czechia 2-1 in Leipzig.

    Records were broken in each of those matches, with Arda Guler and Cristiano Ronaldo making history.

    But what other stats standout from Group F's two opening games?

    Turkiye 3-1 Georgia: Guler breaks Ronaldo record

    In Kenan Yildiz (19y 45d) and Guler (19y 114d), Turkiye became just the second nation at the European Championship to start two different teenagers in a game, after Hungary against Denmark in 1964 (Zoltan Varga and Ferenc Bene).

    And Guler, who was on the fringes at Real Madrid in 2023-24, showcased his immense potential with a superb all-round performance, capped off with a stunning, record-breaking strike.

    He is the youngest player in the tournament's history to score on their first appearance, and just the third teenager to do so, after Ronaldo for Portugal against Greece in 2004 and Ferenc Bene for Hungary against Spain in 1964.

    Indeed, Ronaldo was the previous holder of the record, having netted on his debut at Euro 2004. 

    As well as scoring, Guler also became just the third teenager on record to create as many as five chances in a single game at the European Championship finals (since 1980), along with Wayne Rooney against Croatia in 2004 (18y 241d) and Pedri against Switzerland in 2021 (18y 219d).

    Guler's screamer followed on from Mert Muldur's excellent volley, which was just his second international goal, and paved the way for substitute Kerem Akturkoglu to round out a 3-1 victory, but only after Georgia had hit the woodwork twice and seen an effort cleared off the line in what was a thrilling contest.

    Georges Mikautadze made history with his first-half equaliser, bringing up Georgia's first goal at a major tournament, in their first such appearance.

    Turkiye won a Euros opener for the first time, having lost each of their previous five such games, while they have won four of their six encounters with Georgia in all competitions (D1 L1), with this their first win in a competitive game against them since a 5-2 victory in a World Cup qualifier in March 2005.

    Portugal 2-1 Czechia: Records up for Ronaldo and Pepe

    Pepe (41y 113d) and Ronaldo (39y 134d) both started for Portugal, and in the process became the two oldest outfield players to ever appear at the Euros.

    Age truly is just a number for the gnarly Pepe, though. The defender won possession more times than any other player across matchday one (11).

    Ronaldo also became the first player to feature in as many as six different editions of the European Championship finals (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, 2020 and 2024).

    He could not get on the scoresheet to mark the occasion, though he did see a header rebound off the post before being tucked in by Diogo Jota. However, Ronaldo had strayed offside in the build-up and the would-be winner was ruled out.

     

    Portugal went behind to Lukas Provod's blistering opener, which was the 11th goal scored from outside the box at Euro 2024. That is now just one fewer than in the whole of the group stage at Euro 2020.

    That goal came after Portugal had dominated proceedings. In fact, Roberto Martinez's completed 368 passes in the first half of this match, their most in a single half of football at the European Championship finals on record (since 1980).

    However, this was the first match of Euro 2024 so far to be goalless at half-time, and that dominance counted for nothing until Nuno Mendes' header forced an own goal from 
    Robin Hranac.

    The impressive Vitinha supplied the cross that was met by Mendes. Vitinha made 20 line-breaking passes against Czechia, with only Germany’s Toni Kroos (30 v Scotland) making more across the first round of group stage games.

    Francisco Conceicao proved to be Portugal's hero. He scored just 111 seconds after coming off the bench, becoming the first Portugal player to score as a substitute at the Euros  since Eder in the 2016 final against France.

  • Sagnol proud of Georgia display as Guler gifts Montella 'perfect' birthday present Sagnol proud of Georgia display as Guler gifts Montella 'perfect' birthday present

    Georgia head coach Willy Sagnol believes his players will learn from their defeat to Turkiye, but was proud of his side's performance in Dortmund.

    The 75th-ranked side in the world captured the hearts of many neutrals in their first game at Euro 2024, coming agonisingly close to snatching a memorable point late on.

    Georges Mikautadze made history by scoring Georgia's first-ever goal at a major tournament following Mert Muldur's opener, but the minnows were undone by a piece of individual brilliance by Arda Guler before Kerem Akturkoglu sealed a 3-1 win late on. 

    "I don't want to say we are happy losers today but I think we can be proud of our performance," Sagnol told reporters.

    "We have given such a nice image of the Georgian footballer but of course, we had a lot of opportunities to score, probably as much as Turkey did. But that's football.

    "I'm sure in the future, in the next months and years, Georgia won't lose this kind of game. We are in a learning process, but we want to learn in a good way."

    For Turkiye, however, they won their opening game of a European Championship finals for the first time, having lost each of their previous five. 

    And a big contributor to that was Real Madrid's Guler, whose stunning strike showcased his mercurial talent, and was something he revealed he had practised in the lead-up to the game.

    "I am just thrilled, no words to describe how I feel. I was dreaming of this goal constantly," Guler said.

    "I've been practising this particular shot recently at the end of training sessions. I'm so happy to have scored this way."

    Turkiye head coach Vincenzo Montella celebrated the triumph on his 50th birthday, and Guler was able to deliver the boss his only wish.

    "My coach had wanted a goal as a birthday present," Guler told reporters. "I hope I can continue these goals."

    Montella was equally pleased with the way his birthday had panned out, labelling the result as the perfect day as preparations turn to their game against Portugal on Saturday, who beat Czechia late on in the other Group F contest. 

    "We are just thrilled," Montella said. "It was a lot of coincidences coming together today, my 50th birthday, Eid at home, the Euro opener."

    He told reporters: "It really was the perfect day, in terms of the spirit and in terms of the best present I could get."

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