Former Monaco defender Eric Abidal says Kylian Mbappe has the talent to become one of the best players in the world, but only if he backs that up with dedication and discipline.
The 18-year-old Paris Saint-Germain forward has enjoyed a meteoric rise since starring in Monaco’s Ligue 1 title-winning team last season, scoring 26 goals in 44 matches as the principality club not only clinched a first top-flight crown in 17 years, but also reached the Uefa Champions League semi-finals.
Mbappe was linked with the world's most prominent clubs this summer, but chose in August to make the move to PSG. Initially on loan, the transfer is expected to be made permanent next year, with Monaco netting €180 million (Dh776.4m) for the Frenchman.
Since then, Mbappe has formed a hugely effective front three alongside Edinson Cavani and Neymar - the Brazilian having joined this summer from Barcelona for a world record €222m fee. Between them, the trio have scored 22 goals already this campaign.
Like Neymar, Mbappe has been tipped as a future Ballon d’Or winner, with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger labelling the French international last month as the “new Pele”.
While Abidal did not go quite as far, the 2006 World Cup finalist with France said Mbappe undoubtedly has the ability to in future rank as one of the game’s foremost footballers.
"Yes he can," said Abidal, in Abu Dhabi on Monday as part of the Fifa Club World Cup draw ceremony. "But I can say also that he has to, because he has a lot of talent, is only 18 years old. PSG have hired one of the best players of his age so he deserves a good career.
“But he has to work. Talent is not enough - you have to work every day. And with Neymar and other good players around him he has to learn from them. I’m French and he’s French, too, so I hope in a few years he wins some titles with his club and maybe in a personal capacity too like a Ballon d’Or.”
Abidal, who retired in December 2014, is best known for his time with Barcelona. The full-back spent six years at Camp Nou from 2007, winning a host of trophies including the Primera Liga four times and the Champions League twice.
Barcelona have begun the 2017/18 season in superb form, winning all nine matches across the league and the Champions League. They currently lead the Spanish top flight by five points from Sevilla, with champions and arch rivals Real Madrid a further two points back in fifth.
John McAuley: Real Madrid want to make history in UAE
Henk ten Cate: Madrid not a distraction for Al Jazira
Stadium guide: Two arenas hosting 2017 tournament
Team guide: Facts about competitors at 2017 event
“Now is not the time to talk because it’s the start of the season,” Abidal said. “I know the mindset of the club is always to win titles. The players are never different. Barca is Barca and they will fight every year to win titles.
"But they know Real Madrid are also fighting and the smallest teams always want to beat Barcelona, too, so they have to be focused. Like Mbappe, they have to work every day to achieve this."
- Subscribe to iTunes to download all of The National's Extra Time podcasts