Cristiano Ronaldo is Kylian Mbappe’s football idol but it is much too soon to be comparing the two, says France coach Didier Deschamps.
Les Bleus host Portugal on Monday (AEDT) for a Nations League Group A3 clash, with both teams having taken six points from two games thus far.
That means Mbappe is set to come up against Juventus star Ronaldo, who is a five-time Ballon d’Or winner and has won league titles in England, Spain and Italy, as well as the Champions League five times.
Like Ronaldo, Mbappe enjoyed a rapid rise to superstardom as a teenager and at the age of 21 is already a FIFA World Cup winner.
But Deschamps says the 14-year gap in age makes comparisons between the two tricky.
“He [Ronaldo] was his idol. But I think that Cristiano was and is the idol of many young football players,” Deschamps told a pre-match news conference.
“It’s difficult to compare them. Cristiano has been playing for many years at the highest level. They aren’t the same age. I think it will be better to make a comparison when Kylian will be as old as Cristiano is now.
“They are two players who are able to be decisive for their team at any moment. It is a strength of Cristiano and it is also one of Kylian, even if he is younger. They both are top players.”
Deschamps led France to glory at Russia 2018 two years after his team were beaten 1-0 by Portugal in the final of their home European Championship.
The head coach said little can be learned from that game ahead of their latest meeting, though.
“It was a long time ago and we can’t change anything so there is no point to think about it,” he added.
“It’s okay to think about good memories but it’s not the case. Congratulations to them, they were the European champions four years ago. It was also a useful experience for us.
“We know what happened next. Tomorrow, we will meet again. But there are not so many players who were there. In our team, I think six players were in our group in 2016.
“It will be a great game, between two great European teams. It will be the opportunity to assess our strengths, because we will face them again next month in Portugal and also in June, as planned.”