Kylian Mbappe’s biggest improvement will answer Real Madrid’s key Erling Haaland question

Kylian Mbappe (Photo by John Berry/Getty Images)
Kylian Mbappe (Photo by John Berry/Getty Images) /

Kylian Mbappe is so good that it can sometimes seem like there is hardly anything for the Real Madrid transfer target to improve upon. But the 23-year-old who netted 27 goals with 7 assists for PSG last season is indeed growing and bettering himself with each passing month. This season, for example, we have seen Mbappe add heading to his repertoire of goals.

Yet his biggest improvement isn’t as a scorer. It is as a provider and creator. Mbappe had already broken out as a very important ball-carrier for PSG last season – not just a scorer. He was the club’s leader in progressive carries and carries into the penalty box (by far). Mbappe was also tied with Neymar for first in overall carries into the final third. The Frenchman finished second (behind Neymar) in successful dribbles and third in shot-creating actions after both Ney and Angel Di Maria. Furthermore, he was also third in passes into the penalty area and key passes.

This season, Mbappe is outdoing himself. To this point of the campaign, he is putting up the best creative numbers of his career. He already has more assists (nine) than he did last season (seven), and there is still almost half of the Ligue 1 season to play.

But it goes beyond the assists. Even after PSG signed Lionel Messi, it is Mbappe who is dominating the stat categories and somehow increasing his importance to the club. And he was already carrying the Ligue 1 giants at points in their very disappointing 2020-2021 campaign.

Kylian Mbappe is now PSG’s leading creator

Mbappe has 16 more shot-creating actions than any other PSG player this season and more than double (18 vs. 7) the number of goal-creating actions than anyone else on the team. The No. 7 is first in progressive carries, carries into the final third, carries into the penalty box, successful dribbles, assists, and key passes. He is averaging two key passes per game, which is a mark he has never hit in a league campaign to this point of his illustrious career.

Clearly, Mbappe was a good creator before. And now, he has become a great one, with more experience and responsibility. PSG have disappointed, as Neymar and Messi have played well but have not been superstars for this team. Di Maria hasn’t been as present either. Mauro Icardi is a disaster. But Mbappe has made up for it, and he has ensured PSG are clearly on top in the league and in a good position in the Champions League despite their structural flaws.

All of this is very important to Real Madrid. Not just because they are almost guaranteed to sign Mbappe for free and will benefit from these improvements, but because Mbappe’s creative improvements help answer a question both Madridistas and their other dream target likely have.

We have heard so many diverse opinions about how Erling Haaland and Mbappe will either fit each other and should be the next line of great players to take the pitch together, or about how they will simply be the next superstars to get in each other’s way.

Erling Haaland has never played with someone of Kylian Mbappe’s caliber

Well, Mbappe has had no trouble becoming a more present creator and industrious all-around presence through the middle and wings for PSG with Messi joining the fold. And he had no issues being the main man before with Neymar and Di Maria the primary creators. It’s just that now, he has stepped up to be the primary creator over the veterans.

You can’t tell me that, seeing these jaw-dropping stats from Mbappe across the board, Haaland wouldn’t want to play with this man. How would Haaland feel threatened by a guy with nine assists, two key passes per game, and some of the best dribbling numbers in all of Europe? He would surely relish the opportunity to play with a player of the caliber he has never teamed up with. With all due respect to good creators/carriers/scorers like Marco Reus, Jude Bellingham, Martin Odegaard, and Jadon Sancho, but Mbappe is a different brand of skill, technique, athleticism, footballing intelligence, and consistency.

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And he’s gotten even better. How scary is that? Not for Real Madrid, so long as they do secure him. Because Mbappe’s improvements creatively should intrigue Haaland. Far from making him weary of sharing the spotlight, they should make the Dortmund No. 9 have an itch to team up with the 2018 World Cup winner.