Lionel Messi tipped Chelsea star and Serie A duo among 10 youngsters for stardom in 2015

Gyasi Zardes was 'Backed by Messi' in 2015

Lionel Messi is arguably the greatest footballer of all time.

The Argentine was absolutely sensational during his time at Barcelona and is still going strong in France with Paris Saint-Germain.

Now 34, Messi’s career as a professional footballer is coming to an end.

It’s currently unknown what he will do once he hangs up his boots.

But what about being a scout?

Back in 2015, in collaboration with Adidas, Messi backed 10 youngsters from around the world to become future stars.

The campaign was called ‘Backed by Messi’ and those were given specially designed Messi 15 boots.



But who were the 10 players and where are they now?

Accursio Bentivegna

Where was he in 2015? Palermo (on loan at Como)
Where is he in 2021? Juve Stabia

Bentivegana was coming through the ranks at Palmero and was an Italy U20 international in 2015.

He has failed to kick on though.

Six years later and he is now plying his trade in Italy’s third tier with Juve Stabia.

Jeremie Boga

Where was he in 2015? Chelsea
Where is he in 2021? Sassuolo

Boga may not have hit the heights expected of him but he’s still had a very good career thus far.

The Frenchman made just one appearance for Chelsea before departing for Sassuolo in 2018.

He’s played 92 times for the Italian club and scored 18 times.

Jeremie Boga in action for Chelsea

Maxwell Cornet

Where was he in 2015? Lyon
Where is he in 2021? Burnley

Cornet was a key player for Lyon for many years.

The forward played 252 times for the club, scoring 51 goals.

Still just 24, Cornet recently signed for Burnley in a €15m deal. He’s also a regular for Ivory Coast.

Maxwel Cornet in action for Lyon


Where was he in 2015? Chelsea
Where is he in 2021? Flamengo (on loan from Chelsea)

Kenedy threatened to break through at Chelsea in the 2015/16 season, where he featured 20 times for the club in all competitions.

But he failed to nail down a starting role and has spent the last six seasons on loan.

He’s featured for Watford, Newcastle, Getafe, Granada and now turns out for Flamengo.

The Brazilian is still on the books at Chelsea but it’s unlikely he will make another appearance for the west London giants.

Kenedy in action for Chelsea in 2015

Rony Lopes

Where was he in 2015? Monaco
Where is he in 2021? Olympiacos (On loan from Sevilla)

Lopes’ career at Monaco was going smoothly. In the 2017/18 season, the Portuguese scored 17 times in 50 games. He also made his debut for his country.

But he failed to push on.

Lopes lost his place at Monaco and was sold to Sevilla in 2019.

He made just 14 appearances for the Spanish club before departing for Nice on loan. He’s spending the 2021/22 season on loan at Olympiacos.

Rony Lopes in action for Sevilla

Aleksey Miranchuk

Where was he in 2015? Lokomotiv Moscow
Where is he in 2021? Atalanta

Miranchuk has been on the rise for a number of years.

The attacking midfielder played 228 games for Lokomotiv Moscow, scoring 43 times, before moving to Atalanta in 2020.

He had a promising debut season in Italy and recently starred for Russia at Euro 2020.

Aleksey Miranchuk (left) in action for Lokomotiv Moscow

Timo Werner

Where was he in 2015? Stuttgart
Where is he in 2021? Chelsea

Werner was still a teenager and was a regular at Stuttgart when Messi tipped him for stardom.

He made the move to RB Leipzig in 2016, where he scored 95 times in 159 games.

His excellence in the Bundesliga earned him a £47.5 million transfer to Chelsea in 2020.

The German hasn’t hit the heights expected of him in Chelsea – he scored 12 times in 52 games during his first campaign – but he did help his club to the Champions League title.

Timo Werner in action for Chelsea

Khiry Shelton

Where was he in 2015? New York City
Where is he in 2021? Kansas City

Shelton was one of the oldest players to be ‘Backed by Messi’ in 2015 – he was 22 years old at the time and at New York City.

He tried to crack German football in 2019 but played just four times before returning to MLS with Sporting Kansas City.

The American has scored six times in 43 games since his return.

Khiry Shelton in action for Sporting Kansas City

James Wilson

Where was he in 2015? Manchester United
Where is he in 2021? Port Vale

Wilson was a big disappointment for Man United.

He burst onto the scene in 2014, scoring twice on his Premier League debut against Hull. He was just 19 at the time.

But he found goals harder to come by and United decided to ship him out on loan.

After failing to impress at Brighton, Derby County and Sheffield United, Wilson moved permanently to Aberdeen in 2019.

A stint at Salford City followed and he now plays in League Two with Port Vale.

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Gyasi Zardes

Where was he in 2015? LA Galaxy
Where is he in 2021? Columbus Crew

Zardes has enjoyed a decent career in MLS.

After scoring 40 times in 154 games for LA Galaxy, the striker moved to Colombus Crew in 2018.

He’s had even more success at The Crew, scoring 54 times in 103 games.

Zardes has also netted 14 times in 63 games for United States.

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