It is a stark, confident statement, and another that feels like the end product of careful reflection away from the cameras. His target again seems to be a nation more comfortable with heroic also-rans than thoroughbred winners, albeit one which boasts the reigning world champions. But although France lifted the World Cup in Russia – their second title in 20 years – it’s worth noting that even Mbappé’s friends were stunned by how quickly he turned the page following that triumph.
“For me, it wasn’t a lifelong aim,” he explains. “It was a monumental step. I can’t play down the World Cup, but it was one step and I’ve always said I’ve never wanted to limit myself. So, for me, once the World Cup box was ticked, the aim was to tick another one and to work hard to tick another after that, because a career is 15 years long. If you’re really good, it’s 15 years. You’ve got 15 years, so give everything for 15 years, and then afterwards you’ll have time to see what you’ve done. And you’ll have your whole life to say, ‘I won this, I did that.’”
As for the next box to be ticked, no secrets there. Mbappé has unfinished business in the Champions League, the competition he and Paris came close to winning last season. The manner of their 1-0 final loss to Bayern was especially galling to the former Monaco marksman, unable to perform at his terrifying best due to the ankle injury he had suffered in the French Cup final the previous month.
“The Champions League holds a very important place. With the World Cup, the fact that I won it so early... Maybe if I get the chance to win another at 30, it’ll be much more emotional and symbolic than the one I won. For me, that was my first. You win it, and you’re like, ‘Wow, OK, we’ve won it, we can go back now.’ I didn’t really have to struggle to win it. And the Champions League is completely different because we’ve lost at different stages, we’ve suffered. If I win that, there’ll be a lot of emotion. Even though the World Cup is the Holy Grail, for me, at club level, the Champions League is the best.”
Nobody doubts his ability to add the European Cup to his list of honours, whether he gets there with Paris or a club further afield. Nor would it be any surprise to watch him dominate the final, emulating the landmark talents he admired growing up. After all, he has already scored in a World Cup decider, becoming the first teenager to register in the showpiece since Pelé in 1958. And the Brazil legend has followed him closely ever since, commenting in March that “Mbappé can become my successor … I see myself in his ability to play the game quickly.”
Pelé’s thoughts on Stuart Pearce are unclear, but Mbappé does not need to believe he is O Rei, Messi, Ronaldo or anyone else. Living up to his early promise, and with his peak years still to come, he is doing rather well as himself. As Kylian Mbappé. The pride of the Paris banlieues, terroriser of defences and clear-sighted football sage. “You’re in charge of your own destiny, we’re all in charge of our own destiny, and that’s how it is,” he adds. “I’ve always wanted to be here, to be who I am, and now that I am, I really want to keep growing and keep improving. It’s as simple as that.”