Kylian Mbappe can go on to be the equal of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo after his hat-trick saw Paris Saint-Germain destroy Barcelona 4-1 in the Champions League.
That was the gracious take of Mbappe’s France team-mate Antoine Griezmann, who was on the receiving end of his countryman’s heroics at Camp Nou in Tuesday’s last-16 first leg.
Messi gave Barca the lead from the penalty spot to score in Europe’s top competition for a 17th consecutive season, matching a record set by Real Madrid great Raul.
From then on, however, it was the Mbappe show as Barcelona suffered another humiliating outing on the biggest stage.
A superb equaliser created by Marco Verratti meant it was all square at the interval and Mbappe fired Mauricio Pochettino’s men ahead after the hour and completed the rout with a sumptuous finish into the top corner after Moise Kean headed home Leandro Paredes’ free-kick.
“PSG have a very big star of the future who will be at the level of Leo and Cristiano,” Griezmann told RMC sport.
“I can only congratulate him.”
Mbappe became the third player in Champions League history to score a hat-trick against Barcelona and the first for almost a quarter of century after Newcastle United’s Faustino Asprilla and Dynamo Kiev’s Andriy Shevchenko both achieved the feat in 1997.
It was a sensational all-round performance from the 22-year-old, who also made four key passes to create chances for his team-mates.
1 – Paris have become the first French side to beat Barcelona at Camp Nou in Champions League, after 10 games without a win for French clubs against them (D2 L8). Relief. #FCBPSG pic.twitter.com/tIbZ2VsrpQ
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) February 16, 2021
“We needed to have a perfect match. We didn’t and they did. It’s a big defeat,” Griezmann said.
“We were ready, we wanted to play a big game, but they were better than us. There is nothing to say. Kylian was having a great night.”
Barca need an improbable repeat of the heroics that saw them overturn a 4-0 first-leg deficit against PSG at the same stage in 2017 when they head to Paris for the return next month.
Despite the odds being stacked heavily against Ronald Koeman’s side, Griezmann is not giving up.
“You have to go there to win and turn the situation around. We’re not going to go there as tourists,” he added.