Andros Townsend has hailed Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe as a ‘special player’, a ‘frightening talent’ and the second-coming of Brazil great Ronaldo.
But the Crystal Palace winger caused controversy on talkSPORT on Wednesday morning as he named the World Cup winner as the best footballer on the planet at the moment, leaving Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo out of his top three!
Mbappe is the focus of the football world after putting Messi in the shade by scoring a brilliant hat-trick against Barcelona, leading PSG to a thumping 4-1 victory in the Champions League last-16.
After the game, fans and pundits have questioned whether the 22-year-old Frenchman has finally usurped Messi and Ronaldo as the best player in the world.
And Townsend made it clear what camp he’s in now, as the Premier League star suggested Messi and Ronaldo’s reign at the top of the game is over.
“Mbappe is a special, special player,” he told the talkSPORT Breakfast.
“I remember when he first came through, the criticism was he’s just quick and he’s got no substance to his game, but now you’re starting to see a well-rounded player.
“He’s literally got everything.
“He reminds me of R9 [Ronaldo, the Brazilian one]; how sharp he is, how good a finisher he is, how composed he is.
“It’s frightening that he’s only a young kid and he’s still got ten-plus years at the top level.”
The Palace ace was then tasked with naming his top-three footballers in the world right now… and it’s fair to say he struggled, as he changed his mind about ten minutes later.
There was one common thread in both his selections, though – neither featured Messi or Ronaldo…
“It’s sad to say because I grew up with Messi and Ronaldo, but for me at the moment I can’t put them in my top three.
“I’m going to go: three, Kevin De Bruyne, two, Neymar, one, Kylian Mbappe.
“Five or ten years ago, Ronaldo and Messi used to absolutely dominate games, control games and take games by the scruff of the neck.
“Now, of course, they’re in their 30s; they’re still hitting incredible numbers but they’re not controlling games as they once were.
“Age gets to everyone, and it’s just not the same.”
After getting a bit of stick from listeners, Andros was later given an opportunity to change his selection, and admitted he made a mistake (he bottled it, basically) by naming two injured players.
So here’s what he came up with instead…
“I can tinker with it, but it’s probably only going to get more controversial!
“In no particular order this time, I’m going Mbappe, Harry Kane and Mohamed Salah – that’s my top three players in the world right now.”
What do you make of that?