By Danny Armstrong
Danny Armstrong is a Moscow-based British journalist, reporter and presenter for RT Sport. Follow him on Twitter @DannyWArmstrong
Football icon John Barnes says Kylian Mbappe’s hat-trick heroics against Lionel Messi’s Barcelona doesn’t signal a ‘changing of the guard’ and comparing the two is akin to weighing up Tyson Fury to Muhammad Ali.
Mbappe scored a stunning hat-trick as PSG secured a 4-1 win over Barca in their Champions League round of 16 first leg at Camp Nou, a result which all but guarantees their place in the tournament quarter finals.
After upstaging Messi in his own backyard, many believed that the Frenchman’s performance signaled a changing of the guard and ended Messi’s era as one of two superior players of the modern game.
Former Liverpool and England winger John Barnes agrees Mbappe will go on to take the mantle of world’s best player, but says he and PSG teammate Neymar may never quite reach the heights as their predecessors.
“No it wasn’t a sort of changing of the guard. Well, in terms of who are going to be the best players in the world, yes,” Barnes, who won five major honors at Anfield including two league titles, told RT Sport.
“But I don’t think that there’s going to be two players, probably Kylian Mbappe included in this, who are going to have the impact that Messi Ronaldo have in the last 10 years of being the very best, head and shoulders above everybody else.
“Kylian Mbappe, Neymar will be the best players in the world, but I don’t think they’re going to have that impact or be that much better as Messi or Ronaldo were than everybody else.
“So in terms of seeing a new best player in the world, come along, yes. But is he going to be that much better than that everybody else has Messi and Ronaldo work? I don’t think so. But he still will be the best in the world.”
Although Mbappe already has a World Cup under his belt and looks likely to add a Champions League title or two before his already-glittering career comes to an end, Barnes believes the achievements and aura of Ronaldo and Messi will stand the test of time.
He added: “It’s a bit like the boxing. If you look at Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder being the world champions, then there’s talk about Tyson and Muhammad Ali and George Foreman are great boxers in the past, they are the best in the world, but maybe they’re not as good as ones in the past.”