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 this summer. 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 football 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.”
Benzema is in danger of missing next week’s Champions League match at Atalanta after picking up an unspecified injury.
Zidane said Friday that the striker would not available for Saturday’s match at Valladolid and that “we will see next week” how his recovery goes.
Madrid is set to visit Italian side Atalanta on Wednesday in the first leg of their round-of-16 tie.
Zidane said that Benzema had “discomfort” but did not elaborate.
Benzema has scored 17 goals in 28 games across all competitions for Madrid this season.
The little-used Mariano Díaz is the only other pure No. 9 in Madrid’s squad after the exit of Luka Jovic during the winter transfer window.
Madrid is in second place in the Spanish league six points behind leader Atlético Madrid.