Many football fans haven’t experienced the sport without Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.
The two superstars have dominated football for more than a decade.
Since 2008, the pair have shared the Ballon d’Or with only Luka Modric breaking up their duopoly.
Even as the two superstars edge towards their mid-thirties, they show no obvious signs of slowing down to allow younger players the chance to compete on their level.
For years, we’ve asked who will be the heirs to the Ronaldo and Messi throne?
The obvious answers, right now, are Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland.
But it can often be difficult predicting the next big thing – just ask Ronaldo.
Six years ago, he was asked to name who could follow in his footsteps – to which he name-dropped five players.
“You see many players with potential,” Ronaldo said. “I will mention Martin Odegaard of Madrid, for example. At 16 he’s still young but you can see he’s a very good player.
“Hazard is also another example, the number seven of Manchester United, Memphis Depay is a good player too, Paul Pogba and maybe Neymar.”
So, six years on from Ronaldo’s comments let’s see how they’re all getting on.
Ronaldo mentioned Odegaard shortly after he had signed for Real Madrid as a 16-year-old. He spent two years on loan in Holland with Vitesse, before returning to Spain for a temporary spell at Real Sociedad. Now, he’s 22 and has returned to Real where he is playing a bit-part role for Zinedine Zidane’s side, making nine appearances in all competitions.
Hazard’s €100m move to Real Madrid hasn’t exactly gone to plan as he’s struggled for form and with injuries. He’s played 30 times for Los Blancos and scored just three goals. Hardly doing Ronaldo’s No.7 shirt at the club justice.
While Neymar has continued to play at the very highest level, Ronaldo probably expected more in the previous six years. Leaving Barcelona from Paris Saint-Germain is a move the Brazilian probably regrets. He has scored 79 goals in 97 matches in France but he’s running out of time to win a Ballon d’Or himself.
Ronaldo opted for Manchester United’s No.7 six years ago. But Depay didn’t quite emulate CR7 at Old Trafford with seven goals in 53 matches. However, he’s rekindled his career at Lyon and the 26-year-old has been repeatedly linked with a move to Barcelona.
Pogba was at Juventus when Ronaldo tipped his greatness and the Portuguese would have been watching closely as the midfielder returned to Old Trafford as the world’s most expensive player. The Frenchman is now in his fifth season back at United but is still struggling to show his world-class talents on a consistent basis.