In the 2018/19 season, Liverpool's road to Champions League glory began with a blockbuster game against Paris Saint-Germain at Anfield on matchday one of the group stages. Thomas Tuchel's side headlined a tough group that also featured Carlo Ancelotti's Napoli and the notoriously intimidating atmosphere of Red Star Belgrade.

The Reds opened the scoring with half an hour gone through Daniel Sturridge, and James Milner doubled the lead from the penalty spot soon after. However, Thomas Meunier was able to pull one back for the visitor shortly before the break, and Liverpool held onto a slender lead until the 83rd minute, when Kylian Mbappé looked to have snatched a point.

But in one of the best European moments of Jürgen Klopp's tenure, Roberto Firmino ultimately wrestled back the three points with a stoppage-time strike, covering his injured eye in an instantly iconic celebration.

READ MORE: Jürgen Klopp was 'a whisker away' from Man Utd mistake but Liverpool transfer call has paid off

READ MORE: Liverpool star didn't live up to Jürgen Klopp nickname as next two games could define future

It was only the first game, but pundit Rio Ferdinand had already seen enough to rule PSG out of the running for the trophy. While Mbappé had found the net, Ferdinand felt that both he and Neymar were guilty of playing the game at a 'testimonial' pace, which cost their side.

"This just really shows to young players that are watching the game that no matter how much talent you have as an individual, you have to buy into the teamwork ethic," he said (via the Mirror). "You have to buy into the structure of the team for you to be able to then have the platform to play as well.

"On far too many occasions we saw [Neymar], not only him but Mbappé as well, too narrow, not worrying about their defensive responsibilities at all. This team disappointed us today. I said before it was like a testimonial, the pace in which they played the game. So they have to change that if they’re going to be any type of contender. I don’t see them as a contender."

Five years later, that verdict still holds true. When compared to positional peers in Europe's big five leagues and UEFA competitions over the last 365 days (via FBRef), Mbappé ranks in the bottom ten percentile for tackles (eighth), tackles won (ninth), combined tackles and interceptions (ninth), blocks (second) and blocked passes (fourth) per 90 minutes. Remarkably, even after he scored a hat-trick in a 3-0 win over Reims last month, PSG manager Luis Enrique called for a greater all-round contribution from the 24-year-old.

"I am not very happy with Kylian today," Enrique said, via Goal. "Why? Because managers are so strange. About goals, I don’t have to say anything, but I think he can help the team more in a different way. I told that to him first because it’s not a private conversation. We think Kylian is one of the best players in the world. No doubt. But we need more and we want him doing more things."

Liverpool has once again been linked with Kylian Mbappé
Liverpool has once again been linked with Kylian Mbappé

All of this is relevant to Liverpool because, this week, the Mbappé links resurfaced, as they typically to do once or twice a season. L'Équipe journalist Loïc Tanzi told talkSPORT that the Reds 'have a chance' of landing him from PSG because of his existing relationship with Klopp, which dates back to his time at Monaco when Liverpool first tried to sign him. According to Tanzi, if leading suitor Real Madrid walks away from a deal, it could open the door for a move to Merseyside.

Mbappé coming to Anfield has never really felt likely, because his stratospheric wage demands don't align with FSG's business model, but the reality is that the transfer probably wouldn't work out anyway. As set out in the mantra of assistant manager Pep Lijnders, Liverpool's 'identity is intensity', and there's abundant evidence at this point that Mbappé doesn't play with any real intensity out of possession. Liverpool's miserable 2022/23 season showed the consequences when that identity is compromised, whether that's through a lack of energy, understanding or commitment. Mbappé may try to shirk responsibility on the basis of being an attacker, but top teams defend from the front and as a unit.

While you might argue that Klopp would be able to inspire the Frenchman and bring out a new side to his game, plenty of world-class managers — Tuchel, Mauricio Pochettino and now Luis Enrique among them — haven't been able to do so, and so it would be arrogant to assume that the things would change now.

Mbappé may be available on a free transfer if he decides not to exercise the option to extend his contract by a further year, and on the surface, signing a player with his extraordinary output on a Bosman deal would seem like a once-in-a-generation opportunity. He'd be 'free' in name only, though, with wage demands and associated fees higher than any other player in the league in all likelihood. In light of his off-ball deficiencies, the requisite outlay simply wouldn't be justifiable.

This would feel too similar to mistakes made by rival clubs, above all Manchester United, who recruit superstars for their name rather than thinking about the tactical fit. Seeing Mbappé in red is a dream for many supporters, but it ought to stay that way rather than becoming reality.