The PSG striker was pipped to a prestigious prize by a Barcelona icon last season, with an Argentine superstar fully aware of an emerging talent
Kylian Mbappe admits to being flattered to discover that Lionel Messi was keeping track of his exploits last season, with the Golden Shoe battle seeing a mercurial figure at Barcelona continuously trying to top a goalscoring rival on the books at Paris Saint-Germain.
Messi would land that prize for the sixth time in his career during the 2018-19 campaign, before going on to add a sixth Ballon d’Or to his collection.
Mbappe pushed the Argentine to the limit, with a collection of memorable showings on the domestic stage coming on the back of a World Cup triumph with France.
The 20-year-old frontman netted 33 times in Ligue 1, with Messi managing 36 in La Liga.
A thrilling race to land a coveted prize went down to the wire, with Mbappe aware that his exploits had caught the attention of an all-time great.
One of the pretenders to Messi’s crown did his best to knock one of the game’s most prolific forwards from a lofty perch, but he was always one step behind.
Such competition has, however, left Mbappe feeling proud, with another 18 efforts added to his impressive tally this term.
“Instead of just putting my head under the covers and waiting calmly for the end of the season, I was trying to outdo myself,” Mbappe told France Football of his tussle with Messi.
“I saw that I could maybe win the top goalscorer in Europe award. But, facing off against me, was Messi.
“I would score twice on a weekend, he would go and score three. I would score three, he would score four! It was so crazy that I spoke with Ousmane (Dembele) about it.
“‘This is crazy! Is he doing this on purpose?’ He responded to me: ‘Of course he is looking at you!’
“I said to myself: ‘Ah, not bad, Messi is watching me…’ It is flattering to see that such a player is not overlooking you.”
Messi is ahead of Mbappe once again in 2019-20, with the South American boasting 13 league goals to his name while a French rival has mustered only 11.
Both, though, sit some way off the pace being set by others.
Bayern Munich superstar Robert Lewandowski has already hit the net 19 times in the Bundesliga, with title rival Timo Werner plundering 18 at RB Leipzig.
Ciro Immobile and Jamie Vardy have 17 efforts apiece at Lazio and Leicester respectively, with Messi next on the list and Mbappe sitting outside of the top 10.