Lionel Messi is arguably the greatest player in football history.
The Argentine has won a record seven Ballons d’Or during his incredible career and has wowed football fans ever since his Barcelona debut in 2003.
While there can be very little doubting Messi’s ability on the pitch, what are his scouting skills like?
We ask because, back in 2020, Messi named 15 “youth on the rise” players for Topps Champions League cards.
Not only that but he also wrote a sentence or two about each player.
But where are those 15 players now? Have they fulfilled Messi’s prophecy they will achieve great things in football?
Well, let’s take a look:
QUIZ: The ultimate Lionel Messi quiz
Trent Alexander-Arnold – “A full-back who is impressive going forward, it is the future.”
Alexander-Arnold has gone from strength to strength at Liverpool and has won the Premier League since Messi’s comments – and is hoping to lead his side to a historic quadruple this season.
Christian Pulisic – “He has great balance and agility.”
Pulisic hasn’t quite taken the Premier League by storm since his move to Chelsea, only managing 23 goals in 105 appearances in all competitions. But he’s still a top talent.
Mason Mount – “Having watched him play he has the potential to be one of the best.”
Back in 2020, predicting Mount to have the ‘potential to be one of the best’ was probably a big shout from Messi. But the Chelsea midfielder has taken his game to the next level recently and really does have the potential to be ‘one of the best.’
Phil Foden – “He will do amazing things in the game. He has huge talent.”
Foden has forced his way into Man City’s first-team and it’s crazy to think he’s still only 21. We agree with Messi, Foden will do ‘amazing things in the game.’
Jadon Sancho – “His ability to dribble past defenders is impressive.”
Sancho’s move to Manchester United in the summer hasn’t quite gone to plan but that’s probably not the player’s fault entirely. There can be no doubting his talent.
Luka Jovic – “A magical player who makes the impossible, possible.”
We’re not quite with Messi on this one. ‘A magical player who makes the impossible, possible?’ Jovic has struggled since his move to Real Madrid, scoring three goals in 49 appearances and was even loaned back to Eintracht Frankfurt last season.
Kai Havertz – “His composure in front of goal is so impressive for such a young player”
It’s interesting that, out of all of Havertz’s qualities, Messi identified his ‘composure in front of goal.’ The German has only scored 10 league goals in 47 matches for Chelsea but he’s got bags of ability.
Eder Militao – “A phenomenal talent and fierce competitor.”
Messi will have known all about Militao having played against him in El Clasicos. While he’s not regarded as one of the best defenders in world football at the moment, the 24-year-old is a regular for Real Madrid.
Ousmane Dembele – “His pace is frightening in training.”
Dembele’s career is at a crossroads with his Barcelona contract set to expire at the end of the season. However, his recent form shows that £133 million man still has plenty of quality.
Houssem Aouar – “He is always calm with the ball at his feet with an excellent technical quality.”
Aouar has often been linked with a move away from Lyon but the Frenchman remains in Ligue 1 for now. Does a move to a big European club beckon this summer?
Frenkie de Jong – “One of the most accomplished passers I have ever seen for his age.”
Messi played alongside De Jong at Barcelona and the Dutchman remains at the Camp Nou, establishing himself as a key member of Xavi’s side.
Joao Felix – “One of the most exciting young players in the world right now.”
Felix hasn’t quite kicked on since his £113 million move to Atletico Madrid. The 22-year-old is extremely talented but Atleti probably expected a bit more of a return for their hefty outlay.
Kylian Mbappe – “He is so fast and he can finish. Very dangerous.”
Messi wouldn’t have predicted he would be a teammate of Mbappe’s at Paris Saint-Germain when he made these comments back in 2020. Mbappe may well have eclipsed Messi as the best player in the world, too…
Joshua Kimmich – “A hugely talented full-back who provides so many assists.”
Kimmich is now 27 and far from a youngster and he’s still impressing for Bayern Munich and Germany – although less of a full-back these days and more of a midfielder.
Benjamin Pavard – “A classy defender who can strike a ball so well.”
Messi was probably thinking about THAT goal for France against his Argentine side in the World Cup when he said Pavard can ‘strike a ball so well.’ The defender is a regular in Bayern’s side.