Erling Haaland doesn’t believe he and Kylian Mbappe will share a career-stretching rivalry similar to Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, but is aware ‘everyone thinks’ that will happen.
With Ronaldo and Messi in the twilight years of their careers and playing in Saudi Arabia and USA, the European gauntlet has fallen to Haaland and Mbappe to take over.
The Manchester City striker edged ahead of his Parisian counterpart last season by winning the Treble during his first year in English football, while Mbappe’s Paris Saint-Germain struggled and his future was thrown into doubt.
Both have been shortlisted for the upcoming Ballon d’Or that crowns the best player in the world, however, Messi is widely tipped to win the award for an eighth time after guiding Argentina to the World Cup last year.
Haaland insisted he doesn’t focus on other players but understands why people believe he and Mbappe will be the next global football rivalry.
Erling Haaland (pictured) has downplayed an expected rivalry with Kylian Mbappe
Mbappe (pictured) is widely regarded as Haaland’s closest competitor in world football
Haaland is on the shortlist for the upcoming Ballon d’Or and recently won UEFA’s men’s player of the year award
‘That’s what everyone thinks, but you have to emphasise just how crazy the things Messi and Cristiano have done,’ he told France Football.
‘You also have to remember that they’re still doing it, even if they’re getting older. They’re still fantastic players.
‘But I never talk about myself being against other players, it’s not my way of seeing things. I focus on myself, I only try to be better every day, to continue enjoying what I do and being the best version of myself,’ he said.
Messi and Ronaldo have shared fierce competition throughout their careers, with their time in LaLiga at Barcelona and Real Madrid the crux of their rivalry.
Their ability to push one another led to them sharing a 10-year stranglehold on the Ballon d’Or competition before Luka Modric broke the deadlock in 2018.
However, Ronaldo recently explained that their rivalry is now over after they ‘changed the history of football’.
Scoring 52 goals in 53 appearances for Pep Guardiola’s side last season saw Haaland cement his status as one of the best strikers in the world having already starred in Denmark and Germany before moving to England.
Haaland (right) insists he doesn’t focus on other footballers as he is too obsessed with his own game
Cristiano Ronaldo (left) and Lionel Messi (right) previously shared a fierce rivalry that dominated European football
Individual accolades have since followed with him recently winning the PFA’s player of the year and UEFA’s men’s player of the year award following a standout season.
Meanwhile, Mbappe has previously been shortlisted for a host of accolades and has finished in the top 10 of Ballon d’Or nominees previously but is yet to force his way into the final three.
The Frenchman has already won the World Cup and scored a hattrick in last year’s final against Messi’s Argentina, but is yet to challenge himself outside of French league football.
Strong links to Real Madrid have followed him in the last few years and he was relegated to train with a separate group of PSG players this summer after stating his desire to leave the club on a free transfer next year. He has since re-joined the first team.