“Donatello” is here to stay

JULY 2, 2018

In the first World Cup of his career, one of the most touted youngsters of his generation has already made his mark against Argentina, leading France to the quarter-finals with two goals and an overall performance full of substance.

Some things are obvious to the naked eye and Mbappé’s talent is clearly visible even to those that watch football for the first time. More than the goals he scored, more than winning a penalty, more than the high level of technical ability, pace and overall physique, it is his mentality and the maturity by which he operates that constitutes him one of the most promising prospects of his era.

Albeit rare, we’ve seen many youngsters with top-level technique and an innate ability to dribble past defenders. There are also quite a few youngsters around the world combining strong peripheral vision with high levels of technique in spotting a pass. Even more youngsters at his age have the innate capacity to be in the right position and score goals. However, only a handful of them can claim adequacy in all three above mentioned traits and Mbappé is surpassing the rest with ease.

Comfortable as a center forward as well as in wide positions, he can storm past defenders, create chances for his teammates and score goals with the same comfort. We are witnessing the rise of a star, a fine product of the French youth development system nurtured and refined in the famous Clairefontaine academy and later in Monaco.

Let’s try to break down Mbappé’s performance with the assistance of Football IQ Index.

Passing
His Passing Overall radar chart follows the typical pattern of a player who operates near & around the opposition’s area revealing how he interacts with his teammates. Impeccable Assists, Creativity, Passes In Box & Passes To Space ratings combined with high Crossing and a tendency for Intelligent passes.

Diving a bit deeper using the Productivity & Efficiency bar chart we come across the obvious: He is most productive in In Box, To Space & Intelligent Passes as well as Crosses. What strikes me the most though is his efficiency in passing To Advanced Positions & Promote Possession passes, rare traits for forwards, a clear indication of his ability to create for his teammates even when roaming far from the opposition area.

Operating mostly in wide areas it is only natural that his Tunnel passing is relatively low, however he can definitely switch play boasting an extraordinary high rating on Long Passes despite his low involvement.

Attack

Here things become much more interesting. One of the most Productive Ligue 1 forwards, with extraordinary ratings in Chance Creation, involvement in Promising Situations and Key Touches. One of the top Ligue 1 forwards when it comes to making Runs with or without the ball, excellent On Ball ability and obviously better at winning Offensive Contests exploiting his physique rather than static 1vs1. He finds himself in Dangerous Positions often and fully takes advantage of it with his Shooting and Finishing ratings clearly indicating how threatening he is for the opposition.​

Defense

Given a lot of attacking freedom he is not expected to engage himself too much defensively, with his Defensive Productivity and Defensive Workrate indicators at really low levels. However he actively participates in Pressing with his Key Retrievals at relatively good level.

Even without having seen him in action one could easily detect basic performance traits & exhibited strengths and week points by going through his charts.

Whether the kid is able to become one of the greats, only the future will tell. He’s got the full package for sure and it’s up to him to live up to his potential.

Facing Uruguay in a few days it will be a totally different story and it remains to be seen how Didier Deschamps is planning to utilize him against a team that loves to defend and will certainly try to deny him space.