If you’ve got a blank chequebook but can only sign one of Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland, which star would you sign?
That was the conundrum posed on the reboot of the Eurosport x The Beautiful Game podcast after the duo put in starring performances as the Champions League made an explosive return.
Mbappe bagged a hat-trick as he upstaged Lionel Messi in PSG’s 4-1 thumping of Barcelona in the Camp Nou, while Haaland ran Sevilla ragged as he grabbed a brace in Borussia Dortmund’s 3-2 win in Spain.
Eurosport’s Ben Snowball joined the entire Beautiful Game ensemble of Justin Cole, Dotun Abijoh and Deji Odedina to bask in the return of Europe’s premier competition – and the subject of Mbappe v Haaland split opinion.
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'Mbappe will carry football for decade' vs 'Haaland has the higher ceiling'
“I’ll use two blank chequebooks to get Kylian Mbappe,” started Abijoh.
“He’s going to be the best footballer in the world. When you look at his skillset – the pace, the power, the dynamic dribbling, the finishing – this is a superstar doing it on the big stage.
“Come on, this is a no-brainer.”
However, it was swiftly countered by the argument for goal machine Haaland.
“With Mbappe, we’re somewhere near seeing what his potential is,” said Snowball.
“But I have no idea what Haaland’s potential is because every stage he gets to, he just keeps scoring. What is it? Eighteen goals in the Champions League already. It’s insane.
“If you get second pick in this Mbappe or Haaland draft, you’ve still done very well. I just think the guy with the higher ceiling – and it’s a ceiling we’re yet to see – is Haaland.”
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The casting vote fell to Odedina, who backed Mbappe to carry football for the next decade.
“This boy’s a star boy. We’ve seen his rise. At 22, he’s demolishing stats,” he said.
“To go to the Camp Nou, Messi’s turf, and take that mantle and say ‘you know what, I’ve arrived. I’m next in command. I want to be a potential Ballon d’Or winner.’
“It has to be Mbappe. He’s going to carry football on his back for the next 10 years if he avoids injury.”
As football prepares for the next superstar rivalry after Messi v Cristiano Ronaldo, why not have your say on Mbappe v Haaland in our poll below?
Elsewhere, Liverpool put their difficult Premier League form to one side as they swept past RB Leipzig in an empty Puskas Arena in Budapest.
The podcast panel could not believe that Jurgen Klopp’s side were afforded so much space to exploit, with breakaway goals from Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane securing a 2-0 win in the ‘away’ leg.
“This is the problem with Julian Nagelsmann’s style of play,” said Odedina.
“You need to get it spot on to get results. If you’re not spot on, it can be like a horror show and you can concede three, four, five goals.
“This tie is probably done and dusted. I don’t see Leipzig going to Anfield and turning it.”
Nagelsmann's tactics can sometimes be a 'horror show'
Abijoh concurred, saying: “We saw the cracks in RB Leipzig against Manchester United when Marcus Rashford absolutely destroyed them.
“I think as good as a coach as Nagelsmann is, he needs to find a way to be more pragmatic in these big games if he wants to get big results against the top managers in the world.”
Despite being held in a neutral venue, away goals will still count double if the scores are level after two legs, leaving Leipzig with an even bigger mountain to climb when they return to Anfield on March 10 – prompting Snowball to ask why the German side gave their opponents so much space.
“I would understand if Leipzig were playing in their own stadium, with the fans, and there’s an atmosphere around the game,” he said.
“But when you’re playing in a neutral stadium, no fans, and you know Liverpool’s goals are worth more than yours, you don’t give Liverpool easy chances to score.”
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