Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has backed team-mate Kylian Mbappe to win the 2018 Ballon d’Or.
Mbappe was named among the 30 finalists for the award after a stunning 2018 in which he led PSG to a domestic treble and France to a World Cup victory.
The 19-year-old won the Best Young Player award at the 2018 World Cup after scoring four goals in the tournament, including one in the final against Croatia.
And Mbappe has taken his game to an even higher level so far in the 2018-19 campaign, scoring 10 goals in just seven appearances for PSG so far.
Many have tipped Mbappe to win multiple Ballons d’Or in the future, but Buffon believes that the teenager has a claim to win the award this year.
“Given his qualities, what he shows on the field, and how decisive he was during the World Cup, he deserves it, yes. I cannot say the opposite,” Buffon said on French TV show Tout le Sport.
When quizzed if he had ever encountered such a talent, Buffon responded: “In Italy, he is compared to [Roberto] Baggio, [Alessandro] Del Piero and [Francesco] Totti.
“But he has an exceptional talent and technical qualities as I have rarely seen.
“It’s a phenomenon. And if he persists in wanting to be the best, if he remains enthusiastic and keeps his normal behavior, he can last a very long time.”
Luka Modric is considered by many to be the front-runner to win the Ballon d’Or after the Croatian recently took home The Best FIFA Men’s Player and the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year awards.
If he does not win the prize, the Real Madrid and Croatia star believes Antoine Griezmann is the French player who most deserves to win the award, ahead of international team-mates Mbappe and Raphael Varane.
“I would put Antoine Griezmann in pole position in terms of the three Frenchmen, for all he has achieved this year,” Modric told France Football.
Modric did have plenty of praise for Mbappe, however.
“He’s an extraordinary talent, a wonderful promise for the future but who has already displayed a great level. He’s really special,” Modric said.
The Ballon d’Or will be presented in a ceremony in Paris on December 3.