FC Barcelona: 5 Footballers Who Have Been Dubbed the Next Lionel Messi

Peter Webster@@petercwebsterContributor IIIJanuary 6, 2012

FC Barcelona: 5 Footballers Who Have Been Dubbed the Next Lionel Messi

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    Too often in football, phrases are thrown around that are ludicrous.

    "That player is the next Lionel Messi" is such a phrase.

    New players coming into the game have to develop their own identity and comparing one footballer to another is rarely an accurate task.

    Unless players play in the same league and in the same era, you can never get a true comparison of what they achieved without a lot of assumptions and opinions being thrown into the mix.

    Comparing an upcoming player to one who has won five La Liga titles, one Spanish Cup, five Supercopa de Espana's, three UEFA Champions Leagues, two UEFA Supercups, two FIFA Club World Cups, one FIFA U-20 World Cup, one Olympic gold medal and almost 70 personal individual awards including one Ballon D'or and one FIFA Ballon D'or is a tough task—especially as Messi is still only 24 years old.

    Today we'll take a look at some players who have been branded with the impossible—becoming the next Lionel Messi.

    Hope you enjoy.

Eden Hazard

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    Lille winger Eden Hazard was compared to Messi by the Lille youth coach Stephane Adam.

    Hazard is an explosive attacking midfielder who has startling pace and good technical ability. 

    He is used primarily as a winger and a number of clubs have been trying to sign him, but Lille are believed to be holding out for £40 million before they let anyone discuss personal terms with the player.

    Hazard is still young at 20 years old and it seems he is certainly open to the idea of moving to the Premier League or Spanish League.

    Perhaps he is the player who has the most potential to gain a similar level of notoriety that Messi possesses.

Juan Manuel Iturbe Arevalos

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    Manchester United are reportedly monitoring the progress of Juan Manuel Iturbe Arevalos, who has also been given the title of the next Messi.

    Like Messi, Iturbe is Argentinean and has signed for FC Porto following his 18th birthday.

    Iturbe initially played for Paraguay and featured in a friendly for the senior team, but after falling out with management, he changed his allegiance to Argentina.

    His time at Porto over the next few seasons will show whether he has the ability to fulfill his potential.

Javier Hernandez

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    Brazilian footballing legend Pele believes Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez will become as good as Messi.

    This is a strange comparison for Pele to make, especially since they have such contrasting styles and play in different positions.

    Hernandez hasn't set the Premier League alight so far, but he has a modest goalscoring record with 19 goals in 43 appearances for the Manchester club.

    Hernandez is 23 years old.

Tommy Angel

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    Haven't heard of Tommy Angel?

    I'm not surprised.

    Tommy is the son of former Aston Villa striker Juan Pablo Angel and is reportedly hot property, even at 8 years old.

    It's far too early to predict what kind of a career—if any—the young lad will have, but he certainly appears well above his age bracket for ability.

Xherdan Shaqiri

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    Shaqiri has reportedly been a target for both Liverpool and Manchester United in the Premier League, but the player is yet to move from Swiss side FC Basel.

    At 20 years old, Shaqiri has put himself in the shop window after some fine Champions League performances this season and has stated that he sees himself moving to a top club in the future.

Thoughts...

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    There is no way of predicting which footballers will achieve their potential and which won't.

    Some clubs sign a player when he's young and then nurture him through to being a star, whereas others prefer to wait and see how he develops before paying big money to bring him into their squad.

    The one player on this list who will never be as good as Messi in my eyes is Javier Hernandez.

    Whilst the Mexican is undoubtedly talented, I don't see how the player will become as indispensable to United as Messi has become to Barcelona.

    At present, they are light years apart in terms of ability and final product yet they are only a year apart in age.

    Hernandez still has time to prove me wrong, though, and all we can do is sit around and watch to see what happens.

    Thanks for reading.

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