Cristiano Ronaldo names Barcelona and Manchester United youngsters among his successors
What's the story?
Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo has named multiple players who can succeed him and Lionel Messi as the best players in the world. Speaking after the ceremony where he was crowned UEFA's Player of the Year, Ronaldo was asked about who could replace him at the very top. He answered, “That is a very good question. I see some with great potential: [Marco] Asensio, [Kylian] Mbappe, Neymar, [Ousmane] Dembele, [Eden] Hazard, [Marcus] Rashford ... and some others. In the next generation, there are at least 10 players with very, very great potential.”
Cristiano Ronaldo was crowned the UEFA Best Player of the Year after a stunning 2016/17 campaign, where he was instrumental in the semi-finals against Bayern Munich and in the final against Juventus, where his brace inspired Real Madrid to a 4-1 win and a record second consecutive European Cup. In addition to his exploits in the group stage, Ronaldo was justifiably named the best player in Europe the last season, beating out Lionel Messi and Gianluigi Buffon to the award, the 152nd personal honour he's won in a stellar career.
The heart of the matter
Alongside Lionel Messi, Ronaldo has dominated the footballing landscape for the last decade, with Kaka the last player to have won the Ballon d'Or - in 2007. The duo have shared the award since, with Ronaldo expected to pick up his 5th Ballon d'Or to equal Messi's five this year.
Given Neymar's record making move to PSG, his presence in Ronaldo's list of successors was expected, but the presence of new Barcelona signing Ousmane Dembele and Manchester United youngster Marcus Rashford may raise eyebrows, with Eden Hazard and Kylian Mbappe already having performed to a high standard in the UEFA Champions League. Naturally, Marco Asensio being his Real Madrid teammate, ought to be the first name out of Ronaldo's lips, although it is not an undeserved accolade.
The Portuguese superstar was also asked to predict the outcome of the UEFA Champions League this season, and Ronaldo stuck to the script. He said, "The teams are the same every year - Real, Barca, Bayern, Paris, Juve. I do not expect any surprise this year. Four of these teams will be in the semi-finals.”
Having done it at the very top for so long, Ronaldo knows what it takes, and the fact that he's named players who have been linked with big money moves as the future of football, he may very well be right.