Paris St Germain's Kylian Mbappe has what it takes to reach the level of modern greats Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, Barcelona's Antoine Griezmann said after the 22-year-old scored a hat-trick in a 4-1 Champions League win on Tuesday. One of the key men in France's 2018 World Cup triumph as a teenager, Mbappe again stood tall on a big occasion in his first match at Camp Nou, promptly cancelling out Messi's penalty in the first half before striking twice after the break.
He also became the first player to net a treble away to Barca in Europe's elite competition since Dynamo Kyiv's Andriy Shevchenko in November 1997, over a year before Mbappe was born.
"Kylian had a great night," said Griezmann, Mbappe's strike partner with France. "PSG have a star for the future, who will be at the same level as Leo Messi or Cristiano."
PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino also heaped praise on Mbappe, who helped the Argentine record only his second victory over Barca after spending years as a player and then coach with their long-suffering city rivals Espanyol.
"It's obvious that Kylian is a great footballer," said Pochettino following his side's last-16, first leg victory. Europe's media lavished praise on PSG's "hurricane" superstar Mbappe after a stunning Champions League hat-trick blew away Lionel Messi's Barcelona. French daily L'Equipe called the striker "atomic" and the team a "formidable collective force" which stopped the genius of Messi, who is considered one of the greatest footballers of all time.
It called PSG's stars "Galacticos" on its front page and said "it will be necessary to consider stopping football" if the Parisians do not qualify for the quarter-finals after securing a 4-1 first-leg lead.
Spain's Madridista press, while hailing the young Frenchman, was more critical of the Barcelona performance. Madrid daily AS did not hold back, saying Barcelona had seen in PSG "a mirror that reflects their image" of a team that now "terrorises, subdues and destroys them". "Mbappe went through the Camp Nou and devastated it like a hurricane, with a historic display, one that will remain etched in memories forever," wrote the Marca daily, also from Madrid.
British tabloid The Sun said the match pointed to a "changing of the guard at the head of world football" as speculation mounts that Messi will part ways with his longtime club at the end of the season.
"Lionel Messi, for so long the planet's greatest player not only of his day but of all time, was completely upstaged by Kylian Mbappe," it wrote.
It said the "electric Frenchman" of just 22 years "now looks ready to claim Messi's crown as the king of world football" after his hat-trick.