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Highlights on Off The Ball

Journalist Amy Lawrence joined us to tell us about her discussions with Arsene Wenger about the incendiary form of Kylian Mbappé.

The French forward is one of the glittering jewels in Les Bleus' crown but it appears he may be set to be coronated as the planet's greatest player.

Wenger is now chief of global football development for FIFA, a role which he has undoubtedly made his own with his renowned studiousness of the game. It is partly that professorial nature that led him to a conclusion about Mbappé.

In the course of his work, Wenger has seen studies that suggest that players between the ages of 17 to 20 show a small group that move away from the pack and separate themselves as significantly better players.

The same thing happens again as the elite group becomes that little more elite, around the ages of 22 or 23.

Mbappé is 22 coming into this tournament, and the conditions are set for a tournament even better than his glittering last.

Mbappé: rocket launch

"What was really nice about it was when Arsene was telling me about it, he kind of gasped all over again, as he took himself back to that moment. He remembered what it was like to stand there," Lawrence said of the former Arsenal boss.

"All of us, in life, have these moments where you see something special whether it is in sport, music or whatever it may be. It knocks your socks off when it is unusually, exceptionally brilliant. Surprisingly so.

"For a lot of people, Mbappé has that quality when they first came across him. Just the way he moves across a football pitch, I am struggling to compare him to too many players who are playing now who have that ability to make you suck your breath in, your eyes widen and you're really on the edge of your seat."

Parental guidance

Mbappé has the benefit that many other footballers have lacked, in a strong guiding hand from his parents.

Both Mbappés Sr came from considerable sporting stock, with his mother - Fayza Lamari - is a former handball player; his father Wilfried was a renowned football coach. Both proved to be bulwarks to the excesses that can waylay an up-and-coming player.

"There was a nice anecdote where young Kylian used to go and train at FC Bondy, his father's club, and for quite a while the dad would go quite early to the training ground and arrive quite late. Kylian would arrive with his mum.

"There were lots of people who had no clue that Kylian was his father's son. He turned round and said 'Whoa, Papa!' and everyone laughed and the secret was out.

"They tried to avoid the trappings of fame at every turn."

French prospects

Will Mbappé's form ensure that France can fulfil their favourite status?

"It is hard to ease yourself into a tournament, you have got to find your rhythm, especially when you are hot favourites. I think they have got to be on it from the get-go, which maybe helps them keep that intensity.

"They can't make a mistake."

Amy's article on Mbappé is here.

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