For years now, international football has been dominated by Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Yet, whether you have a favourite or not, we’re not far from the end of their period of dominance.
The Future of International Football
While some stars – such as Kylian Mbappe and Raheem Sterling – have already forged reputations for themselves, there are other lesser known talents ready to take the limelight as we approach the 2020s.
The margins between success and failure are fine. For every Messi and Ronaldo, there are thousands of talented academy players who shine brightly and never realise their potential.
While the richest players ever have amassed fortunes totalling hundreds of millions, those who don’t make it may discover that the glamour ends when they hang up their boots. Some even take on ‘normal’ jobs as car salesmen or decorators after they step away from the bright lights of the big time.
So, who are going to be the real stars of the future? This fab five certainly have what it takes to take their game on to the next level…
Takefusa Kubo, 18
Takefusa Kubo is a Japanese prodigy who has become one of the biggest names in youth football. He has already caught the eye of some of the biggest teams in European football. Barcelona initially snapped up the midfielder, but the team was forced to let him go and he returned to FC Tokyo for a brief spell before Real Madrid signed him as part of a six-year contract worth up to €1 million each season.
The 18-year-old has also attracted attention from Paris Saint-Germain and is currently on loan with Mallorca. He has been named a rising star by many pundits and looks on course to become a household name.
Noah Botic, 17
Australia’s up and coming star Noah Botic also looks set for great things. He currently plays for Australia U17s and is honing his talents with Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga.
Coach Trevor Morgan believes he has what it takes to make it in the Bundesliga. A league that has a reputation for helping stars such as Jadon Sancho to achieve their potential. Hoffenheim has developed Newcastle United’s Joelinton and Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino in recent years. And the young forward could be the next to follow from the production line at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena.
Tomás Esteves, 17
Another 17-year-old prodigy, Tomás Esteves is Portugal’s latest wonder-kid who is carving out a name for himself on the world stage. Thanks to some terrific performances for Porto. Esteves has been with the club since 2011 and his loyalty is paying dividends – with a top footballing education leading to his elevation to the first team this year.
Pundits say his tactical intelligence is what really sets him apart. And he’s impressed since inheriting the number 2 shirt from Uruguayan international Maxi Pereira.
Rhian Brewster, 19
One of the rising (and slightly less heralded) stars in English football, Rhian Brewster was scouted at the age of seven – so he has been hailed as a prodigy for more than a decade. He is currently signed to Liverpool FC and awaiting his time to shine in the European champions’ first team.
“Be patient and you’ll play,” Jurgen Klopp reportedly told him recently. “You can’t think it’s easy and you’re just going to get there with your talent, because you need to work hard as well.”
Born in London, the player has also represented England and has trained with Chelsea FC. The spotlight is on the young star to prove he has what it takes to take his career to the next level while achieving the same success as the likes of Sancho and Trent Alexander Arnold.
Alphonso Davies, 19
Davies is one of Canada’s fast-rising players. He is a former refugee who has come to represent modern Canadian soccer to the world. This year, he has joined the Bundesliga at Bayern Munich and has begun to prove himself by setting up a series of goals for the German champions
The young player has revealed that he is learning to become a better player thanks to support from teammate Robert Lewandowski, the on-form Polish international forward.
He has come a long way since making his name at Vancouver Whitecaps FC aged just 14. If the rising star continues at this pace, he looks set for a glowing career.