Who Will Be the New Messi?

By: Alfonso Duro

Lionel Messi is still 27 years old, and judging by the start of the 2015 season, back in full force. There’s really no reason to start looking for a new king, even less so since the old one seems to be back to reclaim the throne Ronaldo had usurped in the last two seasons.

However, the younger generation is making moves and two players, specifically, have recently stolen headlines and may very well be en route to the Argentine’s highly coveted position in world soccer.

They are both European and both lead the new school of attackers that has taken football main stage by storm, but are they the only ones who may have aspirations to be crowned king of soccer of the next decade? Surely not. Another Argentine may have something to say about this.

EDEN HAZARD: THE NEW ZIZOU. The Belgian has become the top star in José Mourinho’s highly volatile Chelsea squad. However, in the last week, Hazard has become a hero in the London side, signing his contract extension with the Blues just days before his team faces PSG in the Champions League. The Parisians were the team that seemed most motivated to make a solid move for the attacker, and with his new contract, Chelsea fans have found their new Frank Lampard.

Hazard—deemed the new Zinedine Zidane, based on his impressive stint at Lille—will be tied to Abramovich’s club until 2020, eight years after his arrival to London. Mourinho hasn’t flinched at the idea of building his team around the talented attacker, whom he sees at the level of Ronaldo and Messi, but at 24 years of age, the Belgian has enormous chances of surpassing the achievements of both of their careers.

MARCO REUS: A ONE-CLUB MAN? For starters, we have to give it to Marco Reus: he knows how to win the hearts and minds of his followers. Borussia Dortmund is going through one of the toughest times of its history, with the club at the bottom of the table and in serious danger of being relegated. Still, and with half of Europe after him for a big splash signing next summer, Reus extended his contract allegedly forfeiting the 35-million-euro escape clause included in his previous agreement with Dortmund.

Now, if history tells us something, it is to never trust this kind of nonsense agreements, but for those followers who are suffering watching Die Borussen struggle week after week in the Bundesliga, the action from their top start meant the world.

So much so that the team actually won last weekend, and if the streak is extended to the Champions League (where the team has proven to be flawless, in a perfect “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” mode), the season may still prove to be a success for Dortmund.

Should Marco Reus end up staying with the Westfalenstadion club, he’ll have an even more similar trajectory to Messi’s, as after much back and forth it seems the Argentine will remain with the team of his life for an extended period of time. Should the German end up following the trend of extending a contract and then transferring to another club, Reus may find himself on a team that actually accommodates his career ambitions much better, it may also put him closer to Lio’s stature. Either way, seems to be a win-win situation for Marco.

OUR PICK: ÁNGEL CORREA TO RULE THEM ALL. But no one is saying that the new king of the sport needs to be a European player, even more so after the South American Under-20 championship Angel Correa has had.

The small attacker has taken the tournament by storm, and as if not willing to lose out on his second chance at glory, was chosen best player of the tournament despite having spent six months off the pitch right before the start of the championship.

Correa had a great year with San Lorenzo before signing a multimillion-dollar deal with Atlético Madrid, on what was supposed to be his coming-of-age move to European soccer. But a routine checkup prompted a heart operation that put his career in jeopardy, and could have meant that a future superstar was lost forever.

After just a six-month recovery period, the youngster was back in full force, and motivated to become the best player his body could produce. He’s now training with Atlético and deciding where he will play for the next six months, but after his jaw-dropping comeback with Argentina no one doubts he’s ready to become the next Messi—and of course we put our money on him.

Alfonso Duro is a Spanish freelance writer. When he's not managing Google's agency in the United Arab Emirates (his current job), chances are he's watching and writing about soccer.