Who are the future Ballon D’Or winners?
Lionel Messi & Cristiano Ronaldo will contest the Ballon D'Or soon, but who will do so in the future?
Do you ever get bored of hearing that your club is on the verge of signing the ‘new Messi’, or the ‘Eastern European Hesky’?
Ok, maybe not the second one but labels are easily bandied around these days to categorise players, or more likely just to persuade you to click on a story.
Last week it was the real McCoy’s who took centre stage with the announcement of the Ballon D’Or shortlist. All the familiar faces were there; Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Andres Iniesta and Radamel Falcao amongst others.
Messi is gunning for a record fourth straight ‘player of the year crown’ while Ronaldo will be hoping to dislodge him to claim his second Golden Ball.
The pair’s battle to be crowned the best has defined the last five years of world football and looks set to continue for years to come, but who actually are the players waiting in the wings to take over as the ‘best players in the world’ – who are the next Ronaldo’s and Messi’s of this world?
The “new Lionel Messi”....
Alen Halilovic, Dinamo Zagreb
At just 16-years-old, it is hard to say whether Halilovic will fulfill his promise as the next Lionel Messi, but there is no doubting the Croatian’s potential at such a tender age.
The talented youngster played his first game for Zagreb in September to become the club’s youngest ever debutant, while he scored in his next match to make him the Croatian league’s youngest ever scorer.
In October, he became the youngest player to feature in the Champions League. Not bad for someone who can’t even have a drink to toast his own talent.
If reports are to be believed, Real Madrid have already had an approach for the precocious youngster turned down, while Manchester City and Manchester United have been reportedly monitoring developments. Certainly one to watch.
The “new Cristiano Ronaldo”....
James Rodriguez, Porto
Is James Rodriguez the second half of a famous duo that could contest the Ballon D’Or for years to come? Well maybe, there is no doubt that the Colombian is well on his way to establishing himself as one of Europe’s finest young talents.
Snapped up from Argentine outfit Banfield in 2010, the 21-year-old has earned a reputation as a younger version of Ronaldo thanks to his powerful runs and fleet-footed style. Equally he appears to have the Portuguese forward’s eye for goal having scored 20 times in 48 games for Porto.
Earning his first international cap for his country in 2011, Rodriguez is reportedly a target for Manchester United, who see him as the man to head to Old Trafford and take up where Ronaldo left off. Big shoes to fill.
The “new Kaka”....
Neymar claimed today that not only is Oscar destined to be better than Cristiano Ronaldo in the Premier League, but will soon announce himself as the best player in the world. Not much hype to live up to then.
Chelsea fans have already been given a glimpse of the talent Oscar possesses with his stunning strike against Juventus on his Champions League debut, but according to Neymar there is plenty more to come.
The youngster has grabbed the number 10 jersey for himself at international level - fending off the outrageously talented Ganso in the process – and has established himself as the heir to Kaka’s throne. There should be plenty more to come from the former Internacional trequartista.
The “new Radamel Falcao”....
Jackson Martinez, Porto
Porto have a canny knack of snapping up the best talent from South America before selling them on at an inflated price, don’t they?
Radamel Falcao arrived before heading to Atletico Madrid for around £34 million, Anderson was flogged to Manchester United for an exorbitant fee, Hulk was recently sold to Zenit St. Petersburg and (the Brazilian-born) Deco moved to Barcelona from the Portugal club.
Sir Alex Ferguson even recently joked he couldn’t afford James Rodriguez because Porto players cost too much.
The latest to excel with Porto is Jackson Martinez, who has already broken one of Falcao’s goal scoring records. The Colombian has bagged 10 goals in his first eleven games to nudge his compatriot out of the record books.
Liverpool reportedly want him, Barcelona have sent scouts to watch him, and while their styles are somewhat different, he seemingly shares a talent with Falcao for finding the back of the net. You just need to forget the fact he is the same age as the man he is the 'new version' of...
The “new Paul Scholes”....
Nick Powell, Manchester United
This is a role that many have tried to fill but few have had any sort of success – to the extent that the great man himself rose from retirement last season to pull on the famous Manchester United shirt once more.
A summer purchase from Crewe who was attracting interest from all corners of the Premier League, Powell, 18, announced himself to the Old Trafford faithful with a particularly Scholes-esque strike from distance against Wigan in September.
The prompted Sir Alex Ferguson to declare: “He is a good physical specimen and has terrific vision. We hope Powell fills Paul Scholes' boots. For an 18-year-old boy it has been a terrific day."
Not enough has been seen of Powell so far to tell if Ferguson’s claims will come true; he’s featured in just two Capital One Cup games since his strike against Wigan.
But judging by this wonder strike during his time at Crewe and the glimpses we have seen so far, there’s no doubting the boy’s a bit special.