There’s no doubt that Ronaldo and Messi reign supreme in the list of top footballing talent. Messi has unbelievable dribbling skills, an exquisite passing range and is composed in front of goal. Ronaldo is quicker, more direct and probably a better finisher in pressure situations. Both are leaders, the focal points driving their teams towards success.
It’s stunning that they each have had the drive to maintain their form and fitness over such a long career, when the pressure is never ending. Their personalities are different, their physiques are different, yet their mental strength and determination in the relentless pursuit of success are comparable.
Everyone has their favourite, however the reality is we’re just lucky to have two superstars dominating the game at the same time. What an era it’s been.
Neymar Jnr usually sits in third place in the MVP rankings. He is prodigiously talented, with silky skills and an appetite to entertain. His drive to the top suffered a blip though last season, as his theatrical antics lost a lot of fans. This was compounded by his off-season antics, unsuccessfully attempting to leave PSG for Barcelona, again not endeavouring him to fans of the game who don’t like his attitude. The diehards though cling to his youthful outlook and free-spirited approach. He still has a bit to do to build his reputation.
So with Ronaldo and Messi nearing the apex of their careers, who are the next generation of likely stars? Leading the pack at the moment would be Griezmann, Mbappe, Hazard and Salah.
Antoine Griezmann, who this season left Athletico to prove himself at Barcelona, now has the perfect opportunity to blossom with Messi. He has been knocking on the door for years, finishing as the top scorer and player of the tournament at Euro 2016, before winning the World Cup last year and being voted the third best player at that tournament. He is more versatile than the others and creates goals as well as scoring himself.
Kylian Mbappe is lightening quick, great with the ball at his feet and has a price tag to match. If he can maintain his progress, he should be regarded as the leading contender. His goal for France in their Euro 2020 qualifying win over Andorra was his 100thsenior career goal – and he’s only 20.
Eden Hazard now has the big stage to play on, and will be a key component in the revitalisation of Real Madrid. Whilst he is undoubtedly a talented playmaker, to reach the top though he will have to dramatically improve his goal scoring rate.
Mo Salah, the free-scoring Egyptian starring for Liverpool is loved by the Kop. He plays on the right side of their attack, after starting his career as a left fullback. Composed, quick and with a deadly eye for goal, he is a contender.
There are a number of world class players nearing the end of their careers, so they’re unlikely to threaten the world’s best. Names such as Modric, Bale, Suarez and Aguero have missed their chance to reach the pinnacle. Others have the ability, like Paul Pogba, Paulo Dybala and Christian Eriksen, but appear to have taken a step backwards in recent times.
So will it be either Griezmann, Mbappe or Salah to eventually take over the mantle? Or will Messi and Ronaldo reign supreme until the talented young guns like Jadon Sancho, Joao Felix, Vinicious Junior and Kai Havertz have time to reach their peak?