6 Youngsters Who Could Be the Next Lionel Messi
In world football, managers, pundits and fans alike are always searching for the next Lionel Messi.
Who's the kid who could break the Argentinian's records, capture the hearts of the world or excel in a unique position?
Players like Messi come around in rare capacity, but here are six players who have the raw potential to emulate the world's best player.
We can't have a conversation about who will be the next Lionel Messi without considering his mastering of the false-nine.
He used to be just a winger, then he became a playmaker, now he's all of the above and so much more. How do we quantify the amount of talent the Argentine has? It's difficult, but you can take key attributes from his game and look for them in others.
Erik Lamela is progressing at a rapid rate this season, and has already bagged eight goals and three assists in 11 Serie A starts.
This, compared to last season's total haul of four goals and six assists, represents a remarkable improvement that has the Giallorossi fans rightly optimistic.
The River Plate youth product has shown an ability to play as a wide forward, a playmaker and a false-nine, making any worries regarding Francesco Totti's lifespan a little muted.
While Isco's performances have cooled off slightly over the last month, he did score his first goal since October 20th in Malaga's 4-0 win over Valencia this weekend.
He's put in standout performances against Zenit St. Petersburg, Real Betis and Valladolid from the No. 10 role for the Andalusian club and seems a highly coveted potential January signing for elite clubs (via The Mirror).
Despite being just 20 years of age, his game is incredibly well-rounded and polished. His ability to keep it simple in the passing game or drive forward with the ball at his feet makes him an awkward customer to handle.
He's a better option in the false-nine position for Spain than Cesc Fabregas and a perfect playmaking option.
Does this remind you of anyone?
Borussia Dortmund have two emerging world-beaters among their ranks in Marco Reus and Mario Goetze.
Both represent different styles, with Reus a Cristiano Ronaldo-esque dribbler and Goetze a tidy, nifty playmaker like Lionel Messi. It's the latter of the two who some believe is destined for higher heights and the latter who best epitomises the Argentine's play (via lifesapitch.co.uk).
Four goals and two assists from eight league starts this season suggests he's fully recovering from a "complex" hip injury and finding his best form (via Goal.com).
AZ Alkmaar youngster Adam Maher has an unbelievably high ceiling.
Having started as a pure central midfielder, he's starting to show real natural ability in the No. 10 role. His anticipation, attacking instincts and positioning are spot-on, keeping attacks alive for his team and finishing them when Jozy Altidore doesn't.
Four goals and three assists in the Eredivisie is a modest total so far, but it should be remembered he's only 19 years of age and experiencing his first full season in top flight football.
Maher is yet to play in a wide position for Rene Neelissen and sticks exclusively to the centre of the field, but as he continues to move forward and add power to his balance and pace, he could well become an effective direct threat surging up the pitch.
Lightning fast, good centre of gravity, small stature. Physically, Lorenzo Insigne is almost identical to Lionel Messi already.
The 21-year-old is currently helping Napoli fans forget Ezequiel Lavezzi ever existed and is able to play in a wide position or through the middle.
Walter Mazzarri is using him carefully—much the way Barcelona have eased Thiago Alcantara into the side—and hasn't overburdened him with a goalscoring load.
Insigne is thrilling to watch and seems to have grasped his chance with both hands. How far can he go?
French Football Weekly ran a piece on Lucas Ocampos' shocking €16 million move to Ligue 2 side AS Monaco.
Nobody can claim to have seen enough of Ocampos to confidently assert he will flourish in Europe, but the signs are positive.
The main point of uncertainty whenever an Argentinian talent moves to the Old Continent is how the player will cope with the amplified physicality and pace of European football.
Ocampos should not have any problems in those areas – as has been mentioned he excels in those facets of the game.
True enough, the former River Plate graduate is a rare South American physical specimen.
The only question marks surround his decision-making process, but that's something that develops naturally with exposure to first-team football.
He can play on either wing or up front, dribble, shoot, pass and use both feet well.
Statistics via WhoScored?