Heirs To The Throne: Five players who could take over after Messi and Ronaldo
It has been ten long years since Kaka lifted the prestigious Ballon d'Or trophy in 2007. Since then it has been more of a personal duel between Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Now, with both Ronaldo and Messi on the wrong side of 30 and approaching the twilight of their careers, it paves the way for Europe's next generation of superstars to take over the footballing world and shape up to be inheritors of the duopoly's crown.
2018 may have been Modric's year as the Croatian midfielder collected the FIFA Best Men's Player award and is tipped to be a contender for the 2018 Ballon d'Or. He may still be at his prime, but at 33, he definitely isn't the inheritor to the throne.
Both Ronaldo and Messi can play for as long as they like; Ronaldo's reinvention as a centre-forward has helped Real Madrid in capturing three consecutive Champions League titles, while Messi, who is two-and-a-half younger, is already drifting deeper, alluding to a more withdrawn role and creative role. There may be no other player in the current era who can bang in 50 goals a season on a regular basis.
'The Next Messi' or 'Ronaldo' is something that is impossible to escape and can be career destroying. We need to consider both Messi and Ronaldo as statistical outliers. They are extra-terrestrial who exist on a level beyond mere mortals. They are a once-in-a-generation occurrence and we are lucky to have witnessed the two of them at once.
As the level keeps getting better and better, it is highly possible that we are not going to see a player from the current generation dominate the game for ten years, let alone two players at once.
But when this duo chooses to extricate themselves from the game or when passed their primes, the players that come afterwards must be assessed. The next generation of players shouldn't be targeting the records set by these freaks. Instead, the focus should be on being the best player they can be.
Here are the five potential heirs to the Messi-Ronaldo throne: