Who could be the next global superstar in the football world?
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are two names who have dominated the game of football since the last decade. Both these players have broken numerous records over the course of their careers, and have thus won a plethora of individual and collective accolades.
While most recently, Luka Modric became the first player to end the Messi-Ronaldo duopoly by winning FIFA’s Best Player of The Year Award, the Croatian much like Messi and Ronaldo is over the age of 30. Ricardo Kaka was the last player to win the award other than those two, but that happened in 2008.
Thus, taking the baton forward from these two global superstars is no easy task; yet there are a few players who have the potential to become the next Messi or Ronaldo. For more than a decade both these players have dominated the game, breaking records for fun. No player has won more Ballon d’Or trophies than Ronaldo and Messi who are tied on five each.
Therefore the next Ballon d’Or will be crucial in answering the debate as to who is better among these two, while we may also get to witness the next global superstar as both Messi and Ronaldo approach the eclipse of their careers. Here we take a look at five players who could become the next global superstars in football:
Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)
At the tender age of 19, Kylian Mbappe has already become world’s third most expensive player, has won the FIFA World Cup along with two Ligue 1 titles, a Coupe de France, a Coupe De La Ligue, and was named in the Dream Team of the FIFA World Cup 2018, alongside becoming the first teenager to be named in the FIFPRO World XI.
As if all this wasn’t enough, he has already been likened to Brazilian legend Pele who himself won the World Cup when he was a teenager. The Frenchman has been in free-scoring form since signing for Paris Saint-Germain and looks like a star in the making.
It has been a meteoric rise from very humble belongings, and if Mbappe can continue to grow at such an emphatic rate, the sky is the limit for the former Monaco sensation.
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Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain)
Ever since Neymar emerged from his native Brazil, he has been likened to greats like the Brazilian Ronaldo, Rivaldo and of course Pele too, the reason being his famous ‘Jinga’ style of play. For any football fan, Neymar is a delight to watch.
He is currently the world’s most expensive player and has come closest to reaching the level of Messi and Ronaldo in recent years. The Brazilian is a talismanic presence for both club and country and the way he carries his team forward is the reason why Paris Saint-Germain paid the humongous sum of €222 million to sign him from Barcelona.
Neymar decided to step out of Messi’s shadow when he signed for PSG but critics have often termed the move as a step backward. The 26-year-old has often been blasted for his on-field theatrics but other than that, he definitely has the potential to become the next global superstar after Messi and Ronaldo.
Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
The Belgian had a scintillating World Cup as he carried his side to the semi-finals and has been on fire for Chelsea this season. All in all this year is the ‘big one’ for Eden. Hazard’s talents have been noted across the globe as he has become a constant threat for opposition teams. His darting runs from the wing and overall the creativity has made him a big presence for both club and country.
When Cristiano Ronaldo joined Juventus earlier this year, Eden Hazard was Real Madrid’s top target to replace the Portuguese. However, the 27-year-old decided to stay put in England.
Now, he has the chance to finally take center stage and make the big leap to stand toe-to-toe against two of the world’s biggest stars. Hazard has won a plethora of individual accolades and will be in the running for the Ballon d’Or this year, after an impressive campaign so far.
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Marco Asensio (Real Madrid)
When Real Madrid decided against signing a big name player to replace Ronaldo, the decision spoke volumes about the club’s faith in their young players. And they have high hopes from one player, Spanish sensation Marco Asensio. The winger plays out wide on the left, a position reminiscent of Ronaldo.
When the Portuguese were still with Madrid, Asensio played a limited role, but from what we have seen so far this season, his fortunes have surely changed. The 22-year-old has seen his stock rise exponentially, as he has developed from a backup player to a regular feature in Real Madrid squad.
Filling Ronaldo’s boots is no easy task, with age at his side; Asensio surely seems like one of the candidates to take the baton forward from Ronaldo and Messi. Anyone who has watched the Spaniard will agree that he does remind people of the young CR7 only there are lesser stepovers in Asensio’s style of play.
Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona)
When PSG signed Neymar from Barcelona, the Spanish giants entrusted Dembele with the responsibility of replacing Neymar. Blessed with blistering pace and immaculate dribbling skills, Dembele looked destined to become the next global superstar.
However, as fate would have it, the Frenchman suffered a ruptured thigh muscle on his full debut in followed by another setback, a hamstring tear against Real Sociedad. All this came in the space of seven appearances for Barça.
Despite the obstacles, the 21-year-old has finally found a rhythm for his club this season as he looks on a song to match the level of Messi and Ronaldo in future. He has still not managed to fill the void left by Neymar, but if Dembele manages to remain fit, he sure looks like one of the future pillars of Barcelona and the French national team.