Cristiano Ronaldo: What happened to the 10 players tipped to be 'the next Ronaldo'?

Who is the next Cristiano Ronaldo?

So, Cristiano Ronaldo is heading back to Manchester United.

Eleven years after the Portuguese superstar left for Real Madrid, he will be heading back to Old Trafford in a sensational and emotional return.

In that time, Ronaldo has established himself as one of the greatest players football has ever seen, while United have struggled to replace him.

Michael Owen, Antonio Valencia, Angel di Maria, Memphis Depay, Alexis Sanchez and Edinson Cavani have all tried to wear the No.7 shirt at United since Ronaldo left, with many of them falling well short of his standards.

Ronaldo is impossible to follow, though.

The ultimate Cristiano Ronaldo quiz

1 of 20

Where was Cristiano Ronaldo born?

Just ask the 10 players tipped to be the ’next Cristiano Ronaldo.’

Whenever a superstar comes along, fans and media alike are always looking out for their replacement.

But, as the Mirror investigated, the 10 players tubbed to follow in Ronaldo’s footsteps seems all incapable of doing so.

Instead, Ronaldo, at the age of 36, is still playing at the very top of the game and shows no signs of being replaced.

Let’s look at the 10 players that were supposed to be the ‘next Ronaldo’ and see what’s happened to them:


Sir Alex Ferguson was probably hoping Nani would follow in his compatriot’s footsteps when he spent £21 million on the 20-year-old in 2007. In truth, he wasn’t a too dissimilar player to the one United signed four years previously.

But he wasn’t even close to reaching Ronaldo’s heights during his eights years at Man Utd. He did score 40 goals and help the club win four Premier League titles and a Champions League. That was before moves to Fenerbache, Valencia and former club Sporting Lisbon. He’s still banging in the goals at Orlando City in the MLS at the age of 34.

Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo

Joao Felix

Felix became the fourth most expensive player ever when he signed for Atletico Madrid in 2019 for £113 million when he was just 19. It hasn’t been all plain-sailing for the youngster who, now 21, has only scored 19 goals for the Spanish club.

He’ll need to start pushing on if he’s even going to get close to Ronaldo’s levels.

Joao Felix and Ronaldo

Goncalo Guedes

Another Portuguese attacker who broke onto the scene with Benfica as a teenager. Paris Saint-Germain snapped him up in 2016 for €30 million but only played him eight times in the league before allowing his to join Valencia, where he now plays as a 24-year-old. He’s already been capped 23 times for his country but probably doesn’t have the quality to make it at the very top level.

Goncalo Guedes and Ronaldo

Gabriel Obertan

Oh dear. Sir Alex Ferguson actually signed Obertan as Ronaldo’s direct replacement, spending £3 million on the Frenchman from Bordeaux. It was pretty obvious very quickly the winger wasn’t anywhere near as good as his predecessor. He scored once in 28 matches for Untied before being offloaded to Newcastle, where he didn’t fare much better. He’s since played for Anzhi Makhachkala, Wigan Athletic, Levski Sofia, Erzurumspor and now, at the age of 32, plays in the second tier of American football for USL Championship side Charlotte Independence.

Gabriel Obertan at Man Utd

Joelson Fernandes

Fernandes appears to be the next big thing coming out of Sporting’s academy. Born in Guinea-Bissau, the forward is just 18-years-old and is already attracting attention from big European clubs.

Alvaro Vadillo

A lot was expected of Vadillo when he burst onto the scene at Real Betis. United reportedly wanted to sign him as a 17-year-old before an injury. And that is the sad story of the 26-year-old’s career. He never really lived up to the hype and moved to Huesca, Granada and Celta before signing for Espanyol.

Alvaro Vadillo


Another talented youngster, who was born in Guinea-Bissau and progressed through Sporting’s academy.

However, once again, Bruma failed to reach his potential with spells at Galatasaray, RB Leipzig and PSV. At 26, he’s still at the Dutch club with nine Portugal caps to his name.


Francisco Trincao

Barcelona plucked Trincao from Braga last January for €31 million with the youngster playing 42 times for the Spanish club last season. However, Wolves have signed him on a season-long loan with an option for a permanent move if he impresses. At 21, Trincao still has time on his side and it will be interesting to see him in the Premier League.

Francisco Trincao at Barcelona

Wilfried Zaha

Zaha was Ferguson’s last ever signing at Man Utd but made just two appearances in the Premier League for the club under new manager, David Moyes. He was soon sent back to Crystal Palace, where he’s impressed for many years without taking that next step.

Zaha at Manchester United

Jese Rodriguez

Is Jese the only player that has Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Stoke on their CV? It hasn’t worked out for the 28-year-old, though, and he’s now playing for Las Palmas in the Segunda División.

Jese Rodriguez at Real Madrid
News Now - Sport News