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DOHA, Qatar — Four years is a long time in soccer, yet players will tell you that time flew by between Russia 2018 and Qatar 2022. For some, it may feel even sooner.

since winning world Cup four years ago, kilian mbappeLife has been a whirlwind of emotions and success. In no particular order: It was decided to stay at Paris Saint Germain and flat real madrid last May; missed the decisive penalty Francelost in the round of 16 shootout Switzerland in Euro 2020; 2020 Champions League Final Bayern Munich After missing a huge chance when the score was still 0-0. There won three Ligue 1 titles, scored 193 goals, recorded 93 assists, forming a partnership with neymar And Lionel Messi and winning the 2021 UEFA Nations League.

However, the most important thing is that Mbappe is clearly not the same player he was four years ago.

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The France teammate said, “Kylian was not the same player in 2018. He was not the same personality.” antoine griezmann Told. “We see him a lot more now in the group and in training. He talks a lot and puts a lot joy of living in the everyday life of the team.”

Let’s not forget that the Mbappe of 2018 was a prodigy, still only 19 years old, considered an “up-and-coming” and still somewhat unproven. However, the Embappé of 2022 is on another planet. He is 23, the best player of this World Cup, the best player in the world and truly a global superstar in his own right.

His development on the field, the way he plays, the way he scores, the way he behaves, is very evident. “He has taken his game to the next level,” the striker Olivier Giroud Told. “He’s improved at every level. He’s stronger, smarter, quicker, a better finisher.”

The Embappé of 2018 was very inspired, but hadn’t found his sound yet. He wanted to be the best in the world, but at that stage, he still had to improve and learn. Mbappe in 2022 is not far from the finished article. He excels in every department, especially in front of goal, where he has become even more clinical: 50% of his shots this season are on target, compared to 45% last season.

Of course, there is still room for improvement. Sometimes he drips too much, and he might be better off in the air. There is also some progress to be made when he plays on his front side, receiving the ball with his back to the goal.

Overall though, the Mbappe of 2022 runs on the Mbappe of 2018. He’s more of a leader now, and it’s very evident in this contest.

As Griezmann acknowledged, Mbappe is one of the bosses in the French dressing room. In 2018, he was still keeping a low profile, eating his pasta and salmon, relaxing with his PlayStation and working with it in training. In 2022, he is far more outspoken: he teases people to keep the mood light and takes it upon himself to guide the group, especially the younger generation. He clashed with the French FA Image rights to squad names, all of which were entirely Behind him, He will wear the captain’s armband (currently with the experienced goalkeeper hugo loris) Sooner or later, there is no doubt about it, and he will probably see his next development.

“He knows he is important to us and his every move will be watched by fans, journalists, his teammates,” Griezmann said. “He is irreplaceable.”

Embappé has become a global superstar thanks to his exploits on the pitch. His social media following is huge (9.39 million followers on Twitter, 75.8 million on Instagram), his sponsorship deals are massive (he No. 35 on Forbes list of highest paid athletes) and he has the potential to enter the pop culture conversation like players like David Beckham.

One of Mbappe’s most famous quotes is one he told his friend Antoine Le Roy in May 2018 for a documentary on French broadcaster Canal+: “Don’t talk to me about age. If you’re good enough, you It’s not like ‘you have the age, or you don’t have the age’.

Four years later, he should be happy with where he is and how far he’s come. And in four years’ time, how high will 2026’s Embappe be? There’s no reason to suggest that he won’t get better and better.

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