In 2016, Lionel Messi tipped 10 youngsters to become superstars - where are they now?

Lionel Messi is now 32 and coming to the end of a glittering career.

The Argentine has won six Ballon d’Or trophies, scored over 700 goals and helped Barcelona to 34 major trophies.

For many, he is the greatest player to have ever lived.

Over the years, many predictions have been made about which youngsters will fill the void when Messi retires.

And Messi did that very same thing in 2015. In collaboration with Adidas, Messi chose 10 youth prospects from around the world he thought would go on to become stars.

The campaign was named #BackedByMessi and the youngsters chosen included Timo Werner and Rony Lopes.

A year later, he picked another 10 players he thought he would go on to become stars. So, four years on, where are they now?

Patrick Roberts

Where was he in 2016? Manchester City (on loan at Celtic)

Where is he in 2020? Manchester City (on loan at Middlesbrough)

Four years ago, Roberts was thriving on loan in the Scottish Premier League with Celtic. 

But he’s failed to push on since then. Roberts hasn’t been able to add to the three appearances he made for Man City in the 2015/16 season.

He spent the first half of the season at Norwich, where he was limited to just 16 minutes of football before having his loan cut short.

Roberts then made the move to Middlesborough in January, but injury problems means he’s made just four appearances.

It looks unlikely that he will ever make the grade at Man City.

Jean-Kevin Augustin

Where was he in 2016? Paris-Saint Germain 

Where is he in 2020? RB Leipzig (on loan at Leeds United)

Four years ago, Augustin was still a teenager and breaking through at French giants, Paris Saint-Germain.

He went on to make 31 appearances for the club before joining RB Leipzig in a €13m move in 2017.

The Frenchman was a regular for Leipzig in his first two seasons, but he was deemed surplus to requirements and has spent this season on loan at both Monaco and Leeds.

Unfortunately, Marcelo Bielsa hasn’t been convinced with the 22-year-old and he’s made just three substitute appearances since his January move.

Gabriel Boschilia 

Where was he in 2016? Monaco

Where is he in 2020? Internacional

In 2016, Boschilia was impressing at Monaco. In the 2016/17 campaign, the Brazilian scored 8 times in 15 games for the club, underlining his potential.

But he failed to hit the back of the net in each of his next two seasons with the club.

That prompted a loan move to Nantes in the 2018/19 season and he returned to his homeland in January after signing for Internacional.

Alex Muyl

Where was he in 2016? New York Red Bulls

Where is he in 2020? New York Red Bulls

Muyl was one of the most promising players in MLS four years ago.

He has been a regular for New York Red Bulls between 2016-2019.

In total, the winger has made 119 appearances for the club and scored 13 times. Time is running out if he wants to crack European football.

Jay Chanathip

Where was he in 2016? Muangthong United

Where is he in 2020? Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo

In 2016, Chanathip was named the ‘Thai Messi’ and playing in his homeland with Muangthong United.

After continuing to impress, the 26-year-old is now plying his trade in Japan with Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo.

Chanthip hasn’t cracked European football yet but he has racked up an impressive 56 appearances for Thailand, scoring eight times.

Nadezhda Karpova

Where was she in 2016? Chertanovo

Where is she in 2020? Sevilla

The only female player on the list. Four years ago, Karpova was impressing with Chertanovo in Russia.

She moved to Valencia in 2017 before joining Sevilla two years later.

Her contract is up in the summer and she’s been drawing interest from Chelsea.

Davide Calabria 

Where was he in 2016? AC Milan

Where is he in 2020? AC Milan

Calabria has established himself in a struggling AC Milan side, making 102 appearances in his career to date.

He’s also made 19 appearances for Italy U21s but has failed to make the step up to the first team yet.

Kekuta Manneh

Where was he in 2016? Vancouver Whitecaps FC

Where is he in 2020? FC Cincinnati

Manneh was already an established player at Vancouver Whitecaps, having made his debut for the club in 2013 as an 18-year-old.

Shortly after 2016 he made the move to Mexican side Pachuca, before moving to Europe in 2018 with Swiss side, St. Gallen.

Unfortunately he failed to make an impact and he’s now back in MLS with FC Cincinnati.


Where was is he in 2016? Chelsea

Where is he in 2020? Chelsea (On loan at Atletico Mineiro)

Nathan has fallen victim to Chelsea’s loan system, unfortunately.

The Brazilian had buckets of potential in 2016 but he’s been on loan at four different clubs since 2015, including at Amiens and Belenenses.

He’s been at Atletico Mineiro since 2018 and now, at 25 years old, it looks inevitable that he will never made an appearance for Chelsea.

Kasper Dolberg

Where was he in 2016? Ajax

Where is he in 2020? Nice

One of the better players on the list. The Danish striker was superb in 2016/17 for Ajax, scoring 23 time in 47 games while still a teenager.

He couldn’t build on that success but he did help Ajax to the semi-finals of the Champions League last season.

He left for Nice in a €20.5 million deal last summer and he’s impressed in his first season in France, scoring 11 times in 23 games.

We can’t see Messi becoming a scout in the future!

Most of these players have failed to live up to expectations.

Roberts, Augustin and Boschilia failed to build on early success with their clubs and have a battle ahead of them to reach the top level.

Chanathip and Muyl have failed to crack Europe while Manneh has returned to the US after a failed stint abroad.

Calabria has been decent for AC Milan but still has some improving to do, while Dolberg has comfortably been the best of the 10.

Regardless of what they have achieved so far, all of these players are still in their early 20s so there’s still time for them to live up to expectations and show why Messi backed them in 2016.

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