It has been more a decade since we last saw a player, besides Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo, to receive Ballon d’Ors. It is the highest recognition of a player’s skill in football. With Ronaldo at his 33 this year and Messi at his 31, we are looking for the dusk of their era.
During an interview after receiving his second Ballon d’Ors last December, Ronaldo gave the media some hints of young players that might become his successor. Four young players emerged, but will they eventually become the heir?
Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)
With an annual salary of €145m and up to €35 bonuses per year, PSG says enormous talent in Mbappe. He once scored 26 goals while playing at senior club level in just one season. Since then, he has been fighting his way to becoming a world-class player. However, some controversies are surrounding him. Even after collecting 13 goals so far for PSG, many people are still expecting more of him. The upcoming match against Ronaldo should provide plenty of chances for him to prove what his real skills.
Marco Asensio (Real Madrid)
With his skills, Marco Asensio poses extreme challenges to other Ballon d’Or future candidates. During his first full season with Real Madrid, Asensio has scored eight goals using mainly his left foot. His excellent performance with Spain U-21 during the European U-21 Championship also confirmed his true potentials.
Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona)
With £97m initial fee and his young age, Dembele is more than just any young player. His exceptional balance, ability to beat any player with either foot and explosive pace put him as one of the most promising future Ballon d’Or winners. However, there is one question remaining. Will this young player have the temperament and motivation to win? With so much tense and target to fill, can he prove his real value?
Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City)
While Neymar still becomes the most talented young player Brazil ever has, he will soon join Ronaldo and Lionel Messi in their 30s. That is still four years from now, and even so, Brazil has a pile of young talented players to replace his place. It is Gabriel Jesus. Once known as Selecao’s top scorer, this young star earned seven goals for his team in just ten matches.
With his intention to win, he quickly adapts to the rigorous life of Premier League. During his career with Manchester United, he managed to score eight goals before suffering a severe knee injury. Recent rumors also said that he is also under Pep Guardiola’s radar. He may be still too young to join the World Cup. However, with his young age, excellent performance, and excellent manager he has in Manchester United, we might see him walking off with Ballon d’Or at his hand. Manchester United has a unique tradition where they turn the unknown player into some of the world’s best soccer player. Perhaps this time, this tradition will continue and choose Gabriel Jesus.