Just how influential Zidane is was evident in a photo L'Equipe found: Zidane with 5-year-old Mbappe at the French training center in Clairefontaine in 2004.
It reported that Mbappe -- in particular, Mbappe's father, Wilfried, who has been very protective of his son during his meteoric rise -- has downplayed the possibility of leaving Monaco for Real Madrid.
Their big concern: playing time on a star-studded team with Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale up front. That's a big issue in 2017-18 because the World Cup is coming up in Russia. Mbappe wants to be part of the French team but he'll need to be playing.
Despite a spectacular season with Monaco -- 26 goals in 43 games -- Mbappe has not yet nailed down a starting spot on the Bleus. Indeed, he only ranks eighth among French forwards in minutes played in the first six qualifiers -- a testament to their enormous depth up front.
French forwards (2018 WCQ):
MIN. PLAYER (GOALS)
513 Antoine Griezmann (2 goals)
355 Dimitri Payet (2 goals)
352 Olivier Giroud (3 goals)
155 Kevin Gameiro (2 goals)
112 Ousmane Dembele
78 Anthony Martial
31 Andre-Pierre Gignac
28 Kylian Mbappe
15 Thomas Lemar
8 Nabil Fekir
For all the talk of Ronaldo wanting to leave Spain -- he faces tax problems with Spanish authorities -- that still remains a longshot. Benzema, the Frenchman, is going nowhere. But L'Equipe reported that Zidane told Mbappe he would get rid of one of his three forwards to make room for him and he assured him he'd play. The obvious choice to go: Bale.
Other clubs -- Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, Paris St. Germain -- have expressed interest in Mbappe and been in contact with his father but none could offer what Real Madrid can give Mbappe: a chance to play for his favorite childhood team.
The other photo L'Equipe published was from 2014: Mbappe, then 14, in a Real Madrid uniform with Ronaldo.