It can be seen that present-day football is being dominated by such stars as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. A brave man would disagree with this statement. However it may be hard to think of now, but such idols of the game can and will not be around forever. Greats must move on as age and fatigue set in and must allow the next generation of superstars to take the world by storm. But who are these new future greats? Who is to fill the shoes of the Xavi’s, and Casillas’, Leo Messi’s and Cristiano Ronaldo’s?
At only 20 years of age he has already cemented himself into the starting eleven of Jürgen Klopp’s highly rated, young Borussia Dortmund side and not only a prominent figure in the team but a crucial component to the sides’s new found success’. He has been a part of the Borussia Dortmund set up for almost his entire footballing career, first entering the youth academy at only eight years old. He plays primarily as an attacking midfielder but also is also deployable at either side of midfield. He is a creative playmaker that composes chances for fellow team mates with gifted vision and dribbling ability. Mario appears to stand out from other players of his age bracket and is seen as a conceivable world star waiting to burst onto the world stage. He is a very precise and well made-up player that Germany looks upon as a potential future captain (perhaps a long overdue replacement for Michael Ballack) and a future star, still only at 20 years old.
Another up and coming star is France’s newly uncovered central defender Raphaël Varane. Currently niggling his way into Real Madrid’s defense set-up, he has stunned the world on the big stage producing high caliber performances in crucial games as well as being a constant source of reliability for both club and country in recent months. Bought by Real Madrid in the summer of 2011 from Ligue 1 side RC Lens under the influence of club advisor and footballing legend Zinedine Zidane.
Using his pace, tactical awareness, precision tackling and fierce heading accuracy he produces a winning formula for a potentially world class defender. Major examples of all this coming not so far back in the double header of ‘El Classicos’ when he scored either leg of the Copa del Ray semi finals against rivals FC Barcelona.
Stephan El Shaarawy
At only 16 years of age Stephan El Shaarawy made his Serie A debut for Genoa and has never took a step back since. He made his big break signing for Italian giants AC Milan in June 2011 and has taken the world by storm in this 2012/13 season. The departure of lacklusture strikers Alexander Pato and Antonio Cassano along with Swedish phenomenon Zlatan Ibrahimović meant a step-up was majorly needed to fill these boots. Scoring 18 and counting goals so far this season, ‘Il Faraone’ has not failed. His mesmerizing dribbles, sheer determination and goal tally has created high expectations for the Milan striker in the future. Although I do not particularly care for his unforseen hairstyles for which he is acclaimed, I do really enjoy him as a footballer. His sheer determination on the ball and willingness to go the extra mile for his team along with his new found goal scoring habits have enticed me to keep an eye on him in the coming seasons.
At 23 years of age Marco Reus is the oldest player of this compiled list, but is by no means the least. Already a highly influential part of Bundisliga outlet Borussia Dortmund, he is known to play in a centre forward role but is also playable on both wings assisting the forward play. He spent most of his youth career at Borussia Dortmund before finally ending up at Borussia Mönchengladbach where he stayed for three seasons. The most notably coming in his final season of 2011/12 where he ended the season as Gladback’s top
goalscorer. This attracted the attention of former club Dortmund who bought him for €17.1 million on a five-year deal. He is now in his prime season to date where he has earned a place in the German national squad and is playing UEFA Champions League football regularly. He is known for his speed, sharpness and clinical nature in front of goal. He is prone to linking up with teammate Mario Götze in spectacular nature for both club and country. German legend Franz Beckenbauer spoke of their partnership saying “As a classic duo there is nobody better than the prolific Reus and Götze.”
In case you are wondering if there is a mistake in there being a question mark above I can tell you it is no mistake. This question mark represents my views over the hype and extremely huge expectations over Neymar as a player and whether or not he is capable of living up to these unprecedented expectations. The 21 year old’s goal scoring statistics speak for themselves, averaging a goal every second game for his Santos side. However when put on the big stage for Brazil in high profile international matches he seems to be a ghost of this prodigy that I hear so much about. I have watched him play in the Copa America 2010 and in the Olympic Games in London in the summer of 2012 as well as various other games for Brazil and I have only seen ever so slight glimpses of this next world star. It can be seen that, for club Santos, he is capable of tearing Brazilian league side’s defenses to shreds with his dazzling tricks and flicks however I do question his potential ability to compete in football’s best leagues. More physical leagues such as the English Premier League or Spanish Liga BBVA for which he is constantly being linked with big money moves to. Only time will tell if Neymar will be Brazil’s next Ronaldinho or Rivaldo, but one thing is for sure, World Cup 2014 in Rio de Janeiro will be the stage for which will either make or break the young 21 year old.