Over the last few seasons, the footballing world has been largely dominated by the brilliance of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. These two players can stake a claim to be ranked among the best footballers in the history of the beautiful game.
Now let’s take a look at the top 10 players expected to replace Messi and Ronaldo in the future as the best players in the world.
No. 10: Christian Eriksen (AFC Ajax)
The 20-year-old is regarded as one of Europe’s brightest prospects and has recently been receiving numerous plaudits. The talented young attacking midfielder is being targeted by Europe’s elite clubs and Ajax value him above £40 million. He was the youngest recipient of the Danish Player of the Year award at the age of 19 in 2011.
Club Appearances: 121
No. 9: Iker Muniain (Athletic Bilbao)
Dubbed the ‘Spanish Messi’ by the media, Muniain is an exciting left winger who plies his trade in the Spanish La Liga for Athletic Bilbao. He was named the La Liga Breakthrough Player of the Season in 2010/11 and played a pivotal role in Spain’s successful campaign in the Under 21 European Championships in 2011.
Club Appearances: 143
No. 8: Oscar Dos Santos (Chelsea FC)
Handed the Brazil No. 10 Jersey at the age of 21, Oscar is widely seen as the long term replacement for Brazilian legend Kaka. After a stellar performance in the 2012 Summer Olympics, Oscar signed a multi-million pound contract with English giants Chelsea, where his impressive performances are earning rave reviews as he is shining alongside Juan Mata and Eden Hazard playing behind Fernando Torres.
Club Appearances: 91
No. 7: Thomas Müller (FC Bayern)
A product of FC Bayern’s own youth academy, Muller can play as a 2nd striker or an attacking midfielder. Along with the Young Player of the Tournament award, Muller also won the Golden Boot at the 2010 FIFA World Cup with five goals and three assists. Muller also scored an important goal in the Final of the 2012 UEFA Champions League against Chelsea but eventually ended up on the losing side.
Club Appearances: 204
No. 6: Jack Wilshere (Arsenal FC)
A technically gifted central midfielder, described by Arsene Wenger as having “Spanish technique, but an English heart,” Wilshere has become a key player for Arsenal after the departures of Fabregas and Nasri. He put in memorable performances against Barcelona in 2011 where he held his own among players like Xavi and Iniesta, and was given a standing ovation on being subbed. Big things are expected from the Arsenal youngster who has just returned from a lengthy injury.
Club Appearances: 78
No. 5: Mario Götze (Borussia Dortmund)
Gotze is often seen as the long term successor for Michael Ballack for Germany. Known for his play-making capabilities and spellbinding creativity, Gotze was highly influential in Dortmund’s consecutive title winning campaigns in 2010/11 and 2011/12. He was awarded with Tuttosport’s Golden Boy award for being the best under 21 player in Europe in 2011 .
Age : 20
Club Appearances : 84
Goals : 17
Assists : 31
No. 4: Mario Balotelli (Manchester City)
The iconic ‘bad boy’ of football, Mario Balotelli is an exceptionally talented footballer currently playing for Manchester City. He is infamous for his antics on and off the field, but his immense talent cannot be doubted. He has already won four League titles with Inter and Manchester City, playing a key role in all four seasons. Balotelli also assisted Sergio Aguero’s title-winning goal in the 2011/12 season. He had an exceptional Euro 2012 campaign, earning worldwide acclaim.
Club Appearances: 156
No. 3: Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspurs)
A marauding left winger who started as a wing back, Bale is a player dreaded by right backs all over the world. With explosive speed and dribbing skills, he has tormented defenders everywhere. Bale rose to prominence with a sublime hat-trick against Inter Milan in the UEFA Champions League in which he destroyed Maicon. He was awarded with the PFA Player Of The Year award in 2010/11 after guiding Spurs to a 4th place finish and ensuring Champions League Football for them.
Club Appearances: 169
No. 2: Eden Hazard (Chelsea FC)
A fearless, deadly attacking midfielder Eden Hazard capable of changing the game with a turn of pace or a dribble, Hazard began his Chelsea career brilliantly, with four Man of the Match awards in his first four matches.
The Belgian international, who was awarded the UNFP Ligue 1 Player of the Year for two consecutive seasons (2011 and 2012), has already attained legendary status at former club Lille, whom he guided to a League title in 2010/11. Ahead of his £32million move to Chelsea, he was afforded a standing ovation in France, after scoring a hat-trick in his last game for his former Club.
Club Appearances: 205
No. 1: Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior (Santos)
The phenom, the man destined to be the next ‘King’, the man who has the world at his feet, the man hailed by Pele as his successor. He’s barely twenty, but has already been the subject of several multi-million dollar deals by football clubs all across Europe. The likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona are vying for his services, and don’t be surprised Manchester United and Chelsea come sniffing for a deal.
Neymar is already compared with Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in every aspect of the game, despite being only 20 years old. He carries the hopes of an entire nation on his shoulders as Brazil look to win the World Cup on home turf in 2014. Already hailed as the next best thing to emerge out of the fertile football streets of Brazil, Neymar is tipped as a future successor to Messi’s mantle as the world’s best.
Club Appearances: 196