Mbappe, Vinicius Jr, Bellingham to form Real dream attack, Latest Football News - The New Paper

Mbappe, Vinicius Jr, Bellingham to form Real dream attack

MADRID – Kylian Mbappe has finally signed for Real Madrid but fans must wait a few more weeks before a thrilling link-up with Vinicius Jr and Jude Bellingham becomes a reality.

The French forward will lead one of the most potent forward lines in world football after he arrives from Paris Saint-Germain at the end of his contract, a heady blend of skill, speed and dynamism.

A lethal trio of such unequivocal quality brings to mind the new European and Spanish champions’ glittering era, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema causing havoc.

That vaunted “BBC” trident inspired Real to multiple Champions League triumphs over the past decade, including three in a row between 2016 and 2018.

Real first courted Mbappe in 2012 when they invited the 13-year-old to spend a week with them. During the visit, he was photographed with his idol Cristiano Ronaldo, Real’s all-time top scorer.

On June 3, Ronaldo commented on Mbappe’s Instagram post, showing the teenager in a Real sweatshirt pointing at the club badge.

“My turn” to have my eyes on you, wrote Ronaldo. “Excited to see you light up the Bernabeu.”

In 2017, Mbappe turned down a potential move to Real, the “club of my dreams”, from Monaco, in part because of the strength of the trio of attackers who seemed impossible to dislodge.

Now Mbappe, who played alongside ageing former Barcelona attackers Lionel Messi and Neymar in Paris, will be the elder statesman at only 25.

Worryingly for the rest of Europe, the trio are only improving, with Bellingham and Vinicius 20 and 23 years old respectively, leading Real to La Liga and Champions League glory this season.

Mbappe and Vinicius could lead the line, with Bellingham supporting in an attacking midfield role.

Real coach Carlo Ancelotti unlocked Bellingham’s goalscoring prowess by deploying him as part of the attack and with teammates Mbappe and Vinicius attracting markers and creating space, it could even increase.

England international Bellingham could also play further back in central midfield, where he was typically deployed before arriving at Real. It would allow silky winger Rodrygo to join the attack on the right of a wider front three.

In February, Ancelotti was asked how he would accommodate Mbappe.

“Good players need to know how to play together. The important thing is to maintain a balance,” he said. “For me, the most important things in a team are: quality and balance. If you can combine these two things, you’ll be successful.”

Ancelotti has helped Vinicius to develop from a promising but highly inconsistent winger into an elite forward who can break down any defence.

The Brazilian flexed his muscles by scoring a hat-trick against Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup final in January, and netted in the Champions League final win over Dortmund.

Vinicius would also likely benefit with Mbappe beside him, as opposition defences would no longer view him as the one key threat to be shackled by any means necessary.

Mbappe’s arrival will also lay the next stone in a period of renewal for the club as a whole.

President Florentino Perez lavished nearly €900 million (S$1.32 billion) on renovations to the Santiago Bernabeu stadium, which will finally finish in the summer.

Real are also still pushing for a breakaway European Super League project but unlike ailing Barcelona, their partners-in-crime, they have the team to actually compete in one.

The club’s veteran players are being phased out as new, hungry and extremely talented youngsters fill up the squad.

While Barcelona have not found convincing replacements for departed greats Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets, among others, Real have most of their homework done in advance.

The players who will take Luka Modric and the retiring Toni Kroos’ places are already at the club.

Real have Eduardo Camavinga, Federico Valverde and Aurelien Tchouameni in midfield, all 25 years old or under.

Having so many leading talents harks back to Real’s Galactico era in the 2000s, except these stars have their best years ahead of them.

By contrast Luis Figo arrived at 27, David Beckham at 28 and Zinedine Zidane at 29.

Rodrygo, Brahim Diaz and Arda Guler are further youthful options up front for Ancelotti, with Real’s squad the best in Spain.

One of the few doubts around Mbappe’s arrival is about potential ego battles in the dressing room, and there is no better coach than the avuncular Italian to manage star names, as demonstrated during his two stints at the club.

Another is that both Vinicius and Mbappe prefer starting off the left, although this season the Brazilian has found his footing down the middle.

If he and Mbappe click as Real hope, their fluid movement and connection will make light of any positional concerns – and any defence that crosses their path. – AFP