There are a wave of exciting young players just waiting for Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to call it a day.
For a few years now, the football world has been wondering who will compete for the throne once the two greatest players of the modern era hang up their boots.
Kylian Mbappe looks like a multiple Ballon d’Or winner, while the likes of Jadon Sancho, Erling Haaland and Vinicius Jr. also look like superstars in the making.
The title for world’s best player was a two-horse race for more than a decade but we could be set for an era in which that label is attributed to a different player each year.
There are that many young talents.
Messi is 33 now, and Ronaldo is 35. Robert Lewandowski, widely considered to be the best player in 2020, is 32.
So the top of the football pyramid will look a lot different in 10 years’ time and Goal have named 21 players who they believe will be fighting for the game’s biggest individual awards in 2030.
Frenkie de Jong
De Jong, 23, flashed his enormous talents with Ajax and that earned him a big-money move to Barcelona in 2019.
There’s every chance he will still be playing for the Blaugrana in 2030, with a few winner’s medals in his collection.
The American winger looked like the real deal during his debut season in the Premier League.
It’s not always easy for young players arriving in England’s top flight, but Chelsea’s Pulisic passed the test with flying colours.
Alexander-Arnold might be the best right-back in the world right now.
At the age of 22, he’s already won the Premier League and Champions League.
The Liverpool star has also been tipped to use his passing and creativity to flourish in a central midfield position in the future.
Alexander-Arnold will struggle to win the Ballon d’Or as a right-back - defenders just don’t get much love - but he’ll stand a great chance if he shines in midfield.
It will be a shock if Mbappe doesn’t have at least one Ballon d’Or by 2030.
It’s easy to forget that he’s still just 21 years old.
He already has more than 100 career goals and the sky is the limit for the PSG and France star.
With his glorious technical ability, Havertz could certainly still be among the world’s best players in 2030, when he will be 31.
He’s a few years away from his very best but many in Germany believe he will be the star of the national side for at least a decade.
Felix will be responsible for carrying the baton for Portugal once Cristiano Ronaldo retires.
That won’t be an easy task, but Atletico Madrid’s decision to spend £113 million on him is a sign of his enormous potential.
It’ll be interesting to see where Sancho is playing in 2030.
It’s unlikely to be at Borussia Dortmund, who have been a platform for greater things for many players over the years.
Sancho has the ability to play for the best teams in the world and he’ll also be the leader of what appears to be an exciting young England team.
Likely to be joining Sancho as England’s best players in 2030 is Foden.
Pep Guardiola has raved about the young Man City midfielder, who possesses bags of ability.
Imagine being 20 years old and playing for Real Madrid and Brazil.
Vinicius has already achieved what the vast majority of professional footballers could only dream of.
Next, he needs to add a few individual accolades to his resume.
Might Haaland be the world’s best striker come 2030?
Right now, it looks like a competition between the Borussia Dortmund star and Mbappe.
It won’t be long before the Norwegian leaves Dortmund for pastures new, and then he will really look to take over the game.
Davies’ rise in 2020 has been incredible, and it doesn’t look like stopping anytime soon.
His physical attributes make him a game-changing talent who is able to impact games from left-back.
That’s a rare skill.
Japanese teenager Kubo has been sent out on loan by Real Madrid to fine-tune his skills.
He spent last season at Mallorca and is now playing for Villarreal.
Kubo, 19, has flashed glimpses of his talent during these loans, and he’ll be pushing to play for Los Blancos next season.
We said Haaland and Mbappe would be the two strikers competing to be the game’s best No.9, but Greenwood might possibly be in the mix as well.
The Man United ace has an instinctive ability in front of goal that is incredibly hard to find.
Combine that with his natural ability with both feet and the 19-year-old could take the world by storm.
Barcelona might have finally found Messi’s heir.
Fati has gatecrashed the party with a monstrous rise to stardom, so much so that his four-month injury is a huge problem for Ronald Koeman’s side.
He’s already smashed many records at the Camp Nou, and by the time he’s 28 in 2030 it wouldn’t be a surprise if he has some individual prizes.
The depth of the French national side is just unfair.
They’ve just started to introduce 18-year-old midfielder Camavinga into the mix.
The Rennes player produced an incredible individual display against PSG in 2019 and has been linked with a move to Real Madrid.
Reyna is the third Dortmund player on this list.
At 17, he’s already a regular starter for the Bundesliga outfit and, alongside Pulisic, he figures to be a major player in the expected rise of the United States men’s national team in the coming years.
Expect to see Arezo land in Europe soon.
Considered ‘the new Luis Suarez’ in Uruguay, the 17-year-old River Plate Montevideo forward will be in his prime in 2030.
Suarez has earned countless accolades in his career but has never been able to get his hands on the Ballon d’Or.
Could Arezo do what Suarez couldn’t?
Oh look, another Dortmund player.
The Bundesliga outfit made Bellingham the most expensive 17-year-old in history when they parted with £23m to sign him in the summer.
He’s wasted no time in justifying the hype with his impressive performances so far in the season.
Barcelona are in need of some young players to get excited about and, along with Fati, Akhomach is one of them.
His playstyle has been likened to that of Messi’s, and he’s already appeared for Barcelona ‘B’ despite being just 16.
You might have seen the tweets about Moukoko’s insane goalscoring record.
He broke Bundesliga records at U17 and U19 level in just two seasons, appearing for the U19 side aged 14.
He’ll soon be unleashed on senior defenders and we can’t wait for it.
Cristiano Ronaldo Jr.
Yeah, Goal really went there.
In all fairness, it certainly looks like Ronaldo Jr. has inherited some of his father’s talents.
Business Insider last year put his goalscoring record at youth level for Juventus at 58 goals in 28 games.
He’s 10 years old and will only just turn 20 in a decade’s time.
It’s too early to say he could win a Ballon d’Or - what a story that would be! - but his development will be something to watch, that’s for sure.
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