With Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi crashing out of the Champions League last-16 and Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland progressing to the quarter-finals, there’s an obvious ‘changing of the guard’ narrative.
Ronaldo and Messi are the two greatest players to have ever played the game. But with them both in their mid-thirties, their powers are on the wane.
Can you imagine the sport without Ronaldo and Messi at the forefront?
While it’s difficult to imagine, the dreaded thought of them retiring has been eased in the past 12 months thanks to the emergence of Haaland and Mbappe.
Haaland and Mbappe are already starting to break records set by the two superstars that have gone before them and also appear to have started a rivalry of their own.
Football is in good hands.
Mbappe scored four goals over two legs against Messi’s Barcelona as Paris Saint-Germain triumphed 5-2 on aggregate.
Just like during the 2018 World Cup, Mbappe got the better of Messi.
But the 22-year-old has absolutely no intention of rubbing it in Messi’s face.
Instead, on Thursday, he uploaded a touching Instagram message alongside an image of him and the Argentine.
He wrote: “Thanks football to give me this opportunity to live this dream every day” with him staring at Messi.
While many football fans are claim Mbappe and Haaland have already overtaken Messi and Ronaldo at the top table of European football, BT Sport pundit Owen Hargreaves suggests they have a long way to go still.
“There’s no denying Mbappe and Haaland are two of the best young players in the whole world, but the fact of the matter is Ronaldo and Messi have longevity on their side,” Hargreaves told BT Sport.
“I know Mbappe and Haaland can’t have that because they’re only young and they’re performing at a higher level, the numbers don’t lie, but Ronaldo and Messi have done this for 15 years.
“Until these guys do this for five years straight they can’t even be in the conversation with those two, with the utmost respect. They are out-producing them, but Ronaldo’s in a pretty poor Juventus team, Messi’s in a pretty poor Barcelona team, which we haven’t seen.
“In that sense, it’s exciting we’ve got the young guys that are producing as they are but the longevity we have to respect that these guys have produced for the years that they have.”