One of the more annoying trends in any sport and specifically in football is labeling any talented youngster as the new someone. Seeing as Lionel Messi is the popular choice in recent years for best player in the world and disregarding the fact that he’s only 25, there seem to be too many young talents labeled as the new Messi.
The most common comparison to Messi is Neymar, the 20 year old phenom from Santos and Brazil, who seems to be scoring a more incredible goal every week, showing everyone some new exciting dribbling trick he picked up on the training ground. Neymar is already a huge star in Brazil, with everyone waiting for the 2014 World Cup so his contract with Santos expires and they can already get him to Europe.
Alan Dzagoev is probably the gem of Russian football. The 22 year old footballer is probably CSKA’s most popular player for quite some time, playing for the first team even before his 18th birthday. He’s been attracting a lot of interest from the Premier League, with 27 caps and 8 goals for the national team to his name so far.
Erik Lamela, a 20 year old Argentinian who began his career with River Plate but has been playing for Roma over the last couple of years (scoring 12 goals in 40 Serie A matches) is another one of those players that has gotten the new Messi comparison, while River themselves have been getting the new “Barcelona” branded on them for their recent crop of youth players.
Iker Muniain of Bilbao has been playing for the senior team since the age of 16, already featuring 149 times for Athletic before his 20th birthday. The Basque wonderkid has attracted plenty of interest around Europe, especially from Manchester United, but Basque players from Bilbao are very hard to sign, and usually cost quite a lot of cash.
After a fantastic first season with Manchester United, Javier Hernandez , aka Chicharito got the Messi label from Pele, who doesn’t always make the brightest of observations. He scored 20 goals in 45 matches for the Red Devils during his first year, but despite being an excellent player, he’s nothing like Messi in position, style and ability.
Not all those compared to Messi are actually accomplished and well known players.
There’s Brahim Abdelkader Diaz, a 13 year old player, currently developing through the Malaga youth system. According to rumors, Barcelona are highly intrigued in signing the youngster, although the two clubs can’t seem to agree on a price.
Talented Danish players usually find themselves playing for Ajax at one point or another in their career, and Viktor Fischer, 18, is another one who is already chased by the biggest teams in Europe, including Manchester United, despite putting in very few performances for the senior Ajax side and none for the Danish national team.
There’s Leonel Angel Coira, who is only 8 years old, but the name, the haircut, the nationality and the fact that Real Madrid got their paws on him, making him the youngest player in Real Madrid’s history.
Gerard Deulofeu of Barcelona, an 18 year old winger might even feature this season for the senior club in a cup match or two; maybe even more than that, who knows. He made one appearance in the Champions League last season, and is already tracked by Chelsea and Arsenal, hoping to sign the player once known as the new Ronaldinho and now as the new Messi.
Juan Manuel Iturbe Arévalos, 19, is another Argentinian player already part of a big club setup (Porto), although he hasn’t broken through their ranks just yet. So far he’s been capped nine times by the Argentina u-20 team.
Wilfried Zaha has just made his debut for the English national team, but the 20 year old can still play for the Ivory Coast (his birth country) due to his England cap being a friendly. He’s been called the new Messi by his manager quite a few times over the last couple of years.
Gai Assulin was brought up through the Barcelona youth system, making one appearance for the club in the Copa Del Rey before moving on, realizing he isn’t good enough. He played for Manchester City (more like trained with them), and the 21 year old is, at the moment, playing for Racing Santander in Spain.