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What if Mbappe and other stars ran down contracts and opted for free agency?

There has not been a player like Kylian Mbappe -- at least, not since the turn of the decade.

According to TruMedia data, which goes back to the 2010-11 season, Mbappe's 33 Ligue 1 goals last season were the most of any player age 20 or under in Europe's big five leagues in that time period. When they were in the same age bracket, Lionel Messi topped out at 14 goals, while Cristiano Ronaldo never got above nine.

More recently, Romelu Lukaku's 2012-13 season with West Bromwich Albion and Kai Havertz...

Will Barcelona have a Messi problem as the Cavaliers had with LeBron?

Lionel Messi and LeBron James have a lot in common. You know, beyond the fact that one of them looks like he was carved out of some impossibly dense space material, and the other needed human growth hormone to achieve a stature that would not be out of place at your local secondary school.

Messi and LeBron were both identified as epochal talents as teenagers, and they both surpassed impossible expectations. They've been brow-beaten for not having enough titles too but more than all that, when...

PSG tried to break soccer by signing Neymar and Mbappe. The only thing they broke was themselves

It sure seemed like everything changed in August 2017, didn't it?

Before then, there was an established food chain in soccer's transfer market: Barcelona and Real Madrid at the top, and then everyone else. Those two clubs were as rich as anyone and for the most part, it seemed like it was every elite soccer player's goal to end up in the Spanish capital or Catalonia. Once you got there, you only left when you weren't needed anymore.

In this century, the only star who left either club in his...

Alisson is the real reason Liverpool are in the Champions League final

Fair warning: Depending on your personal affinities, the following exercise may be either painful, hilarious or offensive. OK, now let's quickly go through all of the once-in-a-lifetime incidents that happened in last year's Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid.

First, Mohamed Salah, he of the 44 goals and 16 assists in his debut season with Liverpool, badly injured his shoulder after a (pick your adjective of choice) collision with Sergio Ramos. He was subbed off in tears...

Alex Iwobi's movement and link play essential to Arsenal's rebuilding process

Alex Iwobi has only five goals and six assists in 38 appearances, but his value is about more than goals and assists.

Football is very good at comparing young footballers to previous greats -- there's a desperation to look for the next Diego Maradona, the next Thierry Henry, the next Cristiano Ronaldo.

But what happens when a footballer comes along who doesn't quite fit an obvious template? Well, the simple answer is that such players' talents aren't always appreciated.

Step up Alex Iwobi, Arsenal's Nigeria international who isn't really a winger, a central midfielder or a No. 10 and isn't particularly prolific...

Arsenal vs. Man United could be a real throwback battle of diamond midfields

Since the formation of the Premier League in 1992, various different formations have dominated.

The 4-4-2 has long been considered English football's default system, although there was a brief craze of 3-5-2 in the mid-to-late 1990s. Jose Mourinho's impact in the mid-2000s meant many sides shifted to 4-3-3, before 4-2-3-1 started to become the most common system in the early 2010s. A couple of years ago, 3-4-3 became suddenly popular after the brief dominance of Antonio Conte's Chelsea.

One...