What happened to the players who were tipped to become the next Leo Messi

Leo Messi v Huesca

Lionel Messi is arguably the greatest footballer of all-time.

Barcelona's star man, aged 31, has broken countless all-time records while lifting a host of personal and club awards.

And for the last decade, scouts all over the world have been trying to identify the 'next Messi'.

Truthfully, no-one knows if we'll ever see a footballer with Messi's talent again.

We've examined eight players who were famously tipped to follow in Messi's footsteps.

Some of them turned out pretty good - while others did not.

Juan Manuel Iturbe - The Paraguayan Messi

The Roma winger, quickly dubbed 'The Paraguayan Messi', won his first international cap at the age of 16 in 2009.

Once considered one of the most exciting young talents in world football, Iturbe can now be found playing on loan at Pumas UNAM in Mexico.

Juan Iturbe at PUMAS

Aged 25, he's only played eight times for the Paraguayan national team.

Sardar Azmoun - The Iranian Messi

The 23-year-old forward, who has played in the Russian Premier League since 2013, is Iran's all-time fifth highest goalscorer.

Azmoun retired from international football after a disappointing 2018 World Cup, citing online abuse as the reason.


Albeit very talented, the comparisons with Messi will probably end there.

Ryan Gauld - The Scottish Messi

Gauld moved to Sporting CP from Dundee United for £3m in 2014 - but has failed to live up to the hype thus far.

In August 2018, Gauld joined Portuguese second division club Farense on a season-long loan. 

Marko Marin - The German Messi

After a string of impressive showings in the Bundesliga aged 18, Marin was almost immediately saddled with the moniker of the ‘German Messi’.

He moved to Werder Bremen in 2009 and Chelsea in 2012 but struggled to live up to the high expectations.

Marko Marin in the Europa League

However, Marin will be playing Champions League football this season after recently completing a move to Red Star Belgrade.

Giannis Fetfatzidis - The Greek Messi

The short, diminutive winger, renowned for his dribbling abilities, was always likely to be compared to Messi when he broke into the Olympiacos first team as a teenager.

Fetfatzidis moved to Genoa in 2013 before joining Saudi Arabian club Al-Ahli on a three-year deal in 2015.

The 27-year-old Greek international returned to Olympiacos in July 2018.

Jose Angel Pozo - The Mini Messi

Raided from Real Madrid's academy, Pozo quickly made a great impression in the Man City youth ranks and was dubbed 'The Mini Messi'.

Jose Pozo

The Spain U19 international made only four appearances for the senior team before returning to Spain, signing a five-year deal with Almeria.

In July 2018, Pozo joined La Liga side Rayo Vallecano.

Alen Halilovic - The Croatian Messi

Signed by Barcelona in 2014, Halilovic was instantly dubbed 'The Croatian Messi' following his remarkable performances for Dinamo Zagreb.

Alen Halilovic

The 22-year-old Croatian international never made a La Liga appearance for Barcelona and joined AC Milan on a free transfer this summer.

Mohamed Salah - The Egyptian Messi

Dubbed 'The Egyptian Messi' during his time at Basel, Liverpool's sensational winger is probably the closest thing to the Argentine legend.

The Egyptian winger has a remarkably similar style and is a contender for the Ballon d'Or after his incredible 2017/18 campaign with Liverpool.

Countless more have been dubbed the 'Next Messi' - but Salah is undoubtedly the one who lived up to the hype.

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