Zidane Full of Praise for Mbappé, Haaland After Champions League Performances

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Zinedine Zidane liked what he saw when Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland ripped apart two of his team’s top rivals in Spain this week.

Mbappe scored a hat trick as Paris Saint-Germain trounced Barcelona at the Camp Nou on Tuesday. A day later Halland netted a double to lead Borussia Dortmund to a 3-2 win at Sevilla’s Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium.

And Zidane was watching with his team waiting to start its Champions League round-of-16 tie with Atalanta the following week.

“They are both very good players, like Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar... they are younger and what they are doing shows they are players of the present and the future,” Zidane said about the two young scorers on Friday.

On Mbappe’s game against Barcelona, Zidane said: “His performance was marvelous, and I liked what he did because we know each other. I watched the game as a fan and I enjoyed how wonderfully he played.”

Mbappe’s contract with PSG expires in the summer of 2022. Last month, he said that he was “thinking it over” on whether to sign another deal with the French powerhouse or make a move to another top European club like Madrid.

Mbappe, 22, and Haaland, 20, both feature in the rumor mill surrounding Madrid’s plans for next summer. Madrid, however, like all of soccer has taken an economic hit from the pandemic.

But Madrid President Florentino Pérez is no longer a dominant force in the transfer market, particularly after the rise of PSG and Manchester City. That makes Haaland perhaps an easier player to lure away from the more modest Dortmund, a club that unlike PSG is accustomed to selling its top talents.

Madrid’s leading scorer, Karim Benzema, is 33 years old. The club has not been able to provide Zidane with a reliable backup, so the position of striker is a need Madrid will likely address in the near future.

“We all work together when it comes to signing players — the club, the coach and the people who work on this,” Zidane said about the upcoming offseason. “There is a lot of information and there are a lot rumors and that is not going to change until the end of the season.”