One of the hardest things in football to think about is the day when Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are no longer playing.
Ok, so it pales in comparison to the thought of FIFA’s corruption scandals, but it will certainly be a sad time. Messi and Ronaldo are arguably football’s two greatest ever players and it’s been a delight to watch them both for the past decade.
But father time is undefeated, and there will soon be a time when the pair can no longer dazzle on the biggest stage.
Messi is 29 and his Real Madrid rival will turn 32 next February.
Soon, they will have to pass the baton to the next stars.
There are a few candidates to be football’s next superstar, including Marcus Rashford, Kingsley Coman, Moussa Dembele and Ousmane Dembele, all of whom have been nominated for the 2016 Golden Boy award.
Carlo Ancelotti's tip
Yet Carlo Ancelotti has put forward two players who have already achieved more than the aforementioned four names: Barcelona’s Neymar and Juventus hotshot Paulo Dybala.
"Dybala and Neymar can become the heirs of Messi and Ronaldo,” Ancelotti told Tuttosport, per Goal.
“Dybala can make history at Juventus over the next 10 years. He is unique, you cannot compare him to any other player.”
The next big things
Dybala has been mentioned as the player who can carry the torch for Argentina when Messi officially retires.
Meanwhile, Neymar has developed into one of the world’s best players since he moved to Barcelona in 2013, finishing third in the 2015 Ballon d’Or voting.
If you had to name the player who will break Messi and Ronaldo’s stranglehold on the Ballon d’Or - not since 2007 has another player won it - you’d probably opt for Neymar.
The Brazilian has scored 91 goals for Barcelona and has the pleasure of learning from the best at the Camp Nou.
The pressure that currently rests on Messi’s shoulders will fall on him in a few years time. That will be the true test of his abilities.
Who will be the next player not named Messi or Ronaldo to win the Ballon d'Or? Let us know in the comments section below!
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