Top 25 Youngsters Who Could Be the Next Lionel Messi

Saura BhattacharjeeAnalyst IDecember 25, 2010

Top 25 Youngsters Who Could Be the Next Lionel Messi

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    ATHENS, GREECE - NOVEMBER 24:  Lionel Messi of Barcelona is pictured during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Panathinaikos FC and FC Barcelona at OAKA Spiros Louis Stadium on November 24, 2010 in Athens, Greece.  (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Gett
    Vladimir Rys/Getty Images

    The successor to Maradona has taken the world at his feet by his footballing genius.

    Perhaps the most gifted players in modern times, Lionel Messi has changed the face of modern football. His skillful dribbles, perfect passes and awesome ball control make him the best player in the world undoubtedly.

    The timid Argentine has mesmerized the world till date and will continue to do so in the future, but what makes him all the more lovable is his humble attitude. The Argentine wizard has inspired numerous children around the world to take on football as their goal in life and also is a very popular youth icon.

    In the following slides we will look into 25 such youngsters who have the potential to be like their young protege.

Pablo Daniel Piatti

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    ALMERIA, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 20: Maxwell of Barcelona beats Pablo Daniel Piatti of UD Almeria during the La Liga match between UD Almeria and Barcelona at Estadio del Mediterraneo on November 20, 2010 in Almeria, Spain.  (Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images)
    Denis Doyle/Getty Images

    The 21-year-old Argentine winger has taken the Spanish La Liga by storm since his arrival at Almeria.

    His top class performances helped his native club Estudiantes to become championship winners and he became a widely-celebrated youngster in Argentina. He also played a key role in helping the U-20 Argentine team lift the World Cup in 2007.

    Though any Argentine youngster showing promise will draw comparisons with Messi, this kid is definitely a rightful candidate for comparisons. With impressive dribbling skills and an eye for the goal Piatti might well follow on Messi's path to greatness.

Ioannis Fetfatzidis

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    Touted as the "Greek Messi", Olympiacos's 20-year-old prodigious youngster Ioannis Fetfatzidis is seen by many as the next big thing for his nation.

    "Fetfa" as Greek's newest emerging talent is known as is yet to become a total footballer and has scope to improve. But he possess superb ball control, skilled dribbling ability to run past defenders and an excellent eye for the goal. The Greek prodigy also has a good vision of the game which allows him to make some goal creating passes into the opposition's box.

    He comes closest to Messi for a few facts. Similar to Messi, Fetfatzidis was also treated for growth hormone deficiency in his early years. He too joined the club at a tender age and loves the club for the support it has given him during his childhood. Moreover, his close ball control combined with lightning speed draws further comparisons with his famous Argentine counterpart.

    The youngster has plenty of potential and also plenty of scope to improve. He has been very impressive during his starting years in football, but it remains to be seen whether he can hold onto his performances and live up to the tag of being the "Greek Messi" that he is touted to be.

Sebastian Giovinco

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    NAPLES, ITALY - NOVEMBER 07:  Sebastian Giovinco of Parma in action during the Serie A match between SSC Napoli and FC Parma at Stadio San Paolo on November 7, 2010 in Naples, Italy.  (Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images)
    Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

    Nicknamed "formica atomica" , meaning atom ant due to his short stature and superb technical skills, the 23-year-old Giovinco is seen by many as the most promising Italian youngster.

    Known for his dribbling and play-making skills, the Juventus youngster on loan to Parma has been brilliant on the field. Touted the "Italian Messi" by media, Giovinco likes to play as the second striker or attacking midfielder. His playing position draws comparisons with Italian great Alessandro Del Piero but he makes this list just because of his huge talent similar to Messi.

    Gifted with a superb technique, good vision of the game and excellent passing abilities Giovinco has everything it takes to become a world-class player. He also commands a good control over the ball and is very skillful. Though he has scope to improve further, given his age Giovinco has potential to be like his more famous Argentine compatriot.


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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - AUGUST 10: Neymar #11 and Robinho #7 of Brazil celebrate Neymar's goal against the U.S. in the first half of a friendly match at the New Meadowlands on August 10, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty I
    Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

    Brazil's 18-year-old gifted striker is the latest object of serious attraction from top European clubs.

    Every club has made their intentions to sign this prodigious talent. Likened more to Pele and Robinho he his inclusion in the list has been merely based on the amount of talent he has similar to Messi.

    He is a danger for any opposition due to his explosive pace and superb skills.

Pedro Eliezer Rodríguez Ledesma

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    BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 17:  Pedro Rodriguez of FC Barcelona runs with the ball during the La Liga match between Espanyol and Barcelona at the Nuevo Estadio de Cornella-El Prat on April 17, 2010 in Barcelona, Spain. The match ended in a 0-0 draw.  (Photo
    Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

    The ambidextrous 23-year-old Barcelona winger has been the Catalans' biggest rising star of the new season.

    After some top class performances during the pre-season, Pedro has sealed a first-team spot for himself. A product of the Nou Camp outfit's youth system Pedro has filled in for both Messi and Henry at either wings and that shows his versatility. Being ambidextrous means the promising youngster can play comfortably in either flank or through the middle. His good passing abilities and powerful shot makes him all the more dangerous near opposition box.

    What he lacks in his physical strength he makes up in his exquisite technical skills, brilliant improvisations and calmness in front of the goal. He also has a good vision of the game that allows him to be at the right places in the right time. He is already become a key figure in the Barca time and looks likely to be another gem in the Spanish giant's star-studded squad.

Erik Lamela

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    The 18-year-old Argentine sensation was courted by Barcelona six years ago as they looked for a new Messi. The deal did not go through and Lamela stayed with his youth club River Plate.

    Six years through and he is presently one of the most celebrated youngsters in Argentina. A key member of a relatively young River Plate squad Lamela is seen by many as the next Messi though comparisons with another Argentine legend Riquelme are also made.

    Though lacking the lightning pace of Messi he has similar dribbling abilities like his famed Argentine counterpart which he uses to make space for himself and make passes. But his near perfect set-pieces are the most important pert of his armory. It was the Barca offer that has drawn comparisons with Messi and the reason for his being in the list.

    The left-footed midfielder has attracted interest from a host of top European clubs and it might not be long before he moves on to new pastures.

Nicolas Lodeiro

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    MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY - NOVEMBER 18:  Nicolas Lodeiro of Uruguay in action during the 2010 FIFA World Cup Play Off Second Leg Match between Uruguay and Costa Rica at The Estadio Centenario on November 18, 2009 in Montevideo, Uruguay.  (Photo by Laurence Gri
    Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

    Uruguay's 21-year-old wonderkid Nicolas Lodeiro has already started drawing comparisons with Argentine wizard Lionel Messi.

    He rose to prominence with some spectacular performances last season for his former club Nacional. Explosive acceleration combined with great vision and superb dribbling abilities very easily attracts combination with Messi and the now Ajax player is often touted as the "Uruguayan Messi." The way he dodges past opposition defenders with ease at high pace is also a reason for his naming.

    He is one of the brightest prospects presently and has the potential to be a world class player like Messi very soon.

Javier Pastore

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    PALERMO, ITALY - NOVEMBER 14:  Javier Pastore of Palermo celebrates after scoring his second goal during the Serie A match between Palermo and Catania at Stadio Renzo Barbera on November 14, 2010 in Palermo, Italy.  (Photo by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images
    Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images

    Argentina's 21-year-old midfielder has been regarded as Argentina's next big star.

    Nicknamed "El Flaco" or the skinny one, Pastore has rose to prominence courtesy his performances during last season for Italian club Palermo. His on-field exploits have garnered interest from the world over and the young Argentine has been earning rave reviews.

    A brightly creative midfielder with good crossing abilities, brilliant vision of the game combined with an eye for the goal which makes him all the more dangerous for oppositions, Pastore has drawn comparisons with Brazilian great Kaka more than Messi. He makes this list because of the immense talent he boasts of.

    A huge admirer of Messi, Pastore dreams of playing alongside the Argentine great for the Catalans.

Sotiris Ninis

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    ROME - FEBRUARY 25: Sotiris Ninis of Panathinaikos celebrates the second goal during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32, 2nd leg match between AS Roma and Panathinaikos on February 25, 2010 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)
    Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

    The highly-rated 20-year-old Greek midfielder is another of Greece's next generation superstars.

    Extremely skilled and talented, Ninis has become a fan favourite in Greece with his skillful displays. After breaking out onto the scene in 2007 with a handful of sterling performances Ninis was seen as the "Next big thing" in Greece before injury curtailed two seasons. Now after having recovered from that it might be his breakout season and with the potential he has Ninis is really one for the future.

Marko Marin

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    LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 07: Marko Marin of Werder Bremen during a Friendly match between Fulham and Werder Bremen at Craven Cottage on August 7, 2010 in London, England.  (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)
    Phil Cole/Getty Images

    Touted the "German Messi", 21-year-old Marko Marin is the latest youngster to have drawn interests all over the world with his exploits on the field.

    The gifted youngster who plays for German giants Werder Bremen burst onto the scene when his impressive performance for earlier club Borussia Monchengladbach made him a superstar of sorts in Germany.

    A quick feet along with his ability to overcome defenders quite comfortably has started drawing comparisons with Messi. The young German has the potential to be a world-class player and if he continues his present form it might not be long before the world gets another young superstar.

Bryan Ruiz : Costa Rican Messi

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    ENSCHEDE, NETHERLANDS - OCTOBER 24: Bryan Ruiz of FC Twente in action during the Eredivisie match between FC Twente and  ADO Den Haag at 'the 'Grolsch Veste' Stadium'on October 24, 2010  in Enschede, Netherlands. (Photo by Anoek De Groot/EuroFootball/Gett
    EuroFootball/Getty Images

    Though at 25 years Ruiz is no way an youngster, but his extreme talent was the reason for him being in the list.

    Costa Rica's latest sensation Ruiz was a late bloomer but has since then been one of the brightest players to emerge in football sensation. Though a bit taller than Messi, the FC Twente midfielder who can play comfortably in various roles is also a left footed player. He likes to play in the right side of the attack and when he dribbles past opposition defenders he always has his strong foot ready for taking the shot just like the Argentine wizard.

    He has a style similar to that of Messi which draws the comparisons. He might be older than Messi, but his potential has been noted and top clubs are looking to sign this Costa Rican sensation.

Philippe Coutinho

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    GENOA, ITALY - OCTOBER 29: Correia Philippe Coutinho of FC Internazionale Milano in action during the Serie A match between Genoa CFC  and FC Inter Milan at Stadio Luigi Ferraris on October 29, 2010 in Genoa, Italy. (Photo by Massimo Cebrelli/Getty Images
    Massimo Cebrelli/Getty Images

    Brazil's 18-year-old gifted youngster Philippe Coutinho is taking the world by storm in recent years.

    Inter's brightest prospect is gifted with explosive pace, which combined with his two-footed skills, brilliant dribbling and passing abilities makes him a threat for any team's defense. He has a good vision of the game which allows him to make intricate passing and perfect movements on the field. He also has a close ball control and a powerful shot that makes him dangerous both inside and outside the box.

    Though he is dubbed as the "New Kaka" by many, yet he makes the list simply based on his potential and ability to ease past defenders similar to Barca's Argentine sensation.


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    The 17-year-old Ghanaian prodigy has already the word Messi attached to his name.

    The highly talented youngster has mesmerised football fans by his excellent skills and goal-scoring abilities. His skills and way of creating opportunities has drawn comparison with Messi and Manchester City are reportedly tracking the youngster.

    Playing for Ghanaian club Berekum Chelsea, the 17-year-old has shown plenty of promise and has the potential to be a world class footballer similar to Argentina's latest sensation Messi.

Jose Baxter

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    PRESTON, LANCASHIRE - JULY 24:  Jose Baxter of Everton runs with the ball during the pre season friendly match between Preston North End and Everton at Deepdale on July 24, 2010 in Preston, Lancashire.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
    David Rogers/Getty Images

    Everton's 18-year-old extremely talented youngster Jose Baxter is the newest sensation to have England in recent weeks.

    The naturally gifted Baxter can play both as a midfielder and a striker pretty comfortably. With superb pace, dribbling ability and an eye for goal Baxter is only a few games of magic away from stardom. He has the potential to be one of the top class players in the future and it seems if he can maintain his focus and form there is nothing stopping him form worldwide fame.

Christian Eriksen : Denmark's Answer to Messi

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    THESSALONIKI, GREECE - AUGUST 04:  Christian Eriksen of Ajax with the ball  during the Uefa Champions League qualifying match between Paok and Ajax at Toumba Stadium on August 4, 2010 in Thessaloniki, Greece.  (Photo by Getty Images/Getty Images)
    Getty Images/Getty Images

    Ajax's newest recruit, 18-year-old Danish sensation Christian Eriksen has drawn attention from top European clubs with his exploits on the field.

    The young Dane is a gifted two-footed player who can run deep and shoot equally with both his feet which makes him a danger inside opposition territory. The Danish sensation has impressed many with his top notch technical abilities and good vision of the game. Eriksen also possesses good passing abilities whilst taking near accurate free-kicks.

    He is seen as the brightest prospect to emerge from Denmark in a generation and the Ajax youngster might be a star for the future. He has lots of potential to succeed and with experience he will only develop into a further better prospect.

Bojan Krkic

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    BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 30:  Bojan Krkic of Barcelona looks on during the La Liga match between Barcelona and Sevilla FC on October 30, 2010 in Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona won the match 5-0.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
    David Ramos/Getty Images

    He not only looks similar to Messi in his looks but also plays football similar to the timid Argentine wonder.

    The 20-year-old Spanish starlet who plays as back-up for Messi has earned a number of starts this season. His lightning pace and agility allow him to dribble comfortably past opposition defenders and create space for himself similar to his famous club colleague Messi. He also has a good vision of the game and combined with excellent finishing touch Bojan has all the attributes to follow in Mess's footsteps.

Kerlon Moura Souza : Brazilian Wonderkid

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    Brazilian 22-year-old Kerlon had taken the world by storm with his trademark "seal dribble" skill.

    The Inter Milan youngster's career has been plagued by injuries, but whenever he takes the field he shows glimpses of his immense potential. The winner of South American U-17 Football Championship Best Player award, Kerlon has practiced his skill to such level that opposition defenders fail to grab the ball from him anyhow.

    The youngster has shown plenty of promise and it might not be too late when the world may discover another gifted young player. 

Jean Carlos Chera : Brazilian Phenomenon

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    The 15-year-old Brazilian youngster is just a wonder in the making. He shot to fame, when in 2005 Manchester United and other top European clubs started courting him.

    He currently plays for Santos and is just waiting to burst onto the footballing world in a few years. With brilliant dribbling abilities and excellent finishing quality Chera has drawn comparison with almost every Brazilian greats.

    He has still plenty to learn but if he fulfills his potential then Brazil might have their answer for Messi. He is also the youngest player to make this list.

Diego Buoanotte

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    Already being hailed as the "Next Messi", the relatively short Argentine youngster has taken the world by storm with his exploits for his club River Plate.

    Though shorter than Messi, what he lacks in height and stature he makes up in his talent and skills. An extremely creative player he has good dribbling skills along with an eye for the goal. Similar to Messi, he uses his impressive ball control and brilliant technique to whisker past opposition defenders with comfortable ease. His good vision of the game allows him to utilise opportunities and good finishing skills helps him convert his chances better.

    He is a very promising youngster and has garnered lots of interest from all over Europe. It remains to be seen whether he can use his potential and follow in the line of his Argentine predecessor.

Eduardo Salvio

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    The 20-year-old has been hailed by Argentine and footballing legend Maradona as the one to keep an eye out for.

    A natural striker who can also operate on the wings, Salvio has drawn comparisons with Messi for his similar playing styles. The Athletico Madrid player on loan to Benfica displayed an impressive performance during this year's South America's U-20's tournament where easily waltzed past opposition defenders to create goal-scoring chances.

    His small physique combined with his lightning pace and superb technique makes him similar to Messi along with his style of play.

Alexis Sanchez

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    UDINE, ITALY - DECEMBER 11:  Alexis Sanchez of Udinese in action during the Serie A match between Udinese Calcio and ACF Fiorentina at Stadio Friuli on December 11, 2010 in Udine, Italy.  (Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images)
    Dino Panato/Getty Images

    Italian club Udinese's "Wonderboy" Alexis Sanchez has taken the world by storm with his skills with the ball.

    The 22-year-old Chilean sensation is famed for his explosive acceleration as well as fantastic dribbling skills. He can play in a number of places over the midfield with ease. His brilliant vision allows him to make perfect passes and the youngster also enjoys to take on defenders and beating them.

    Sanchez is being tracked by a number of teams and he is already a sensation. With a little more experience the Chilean wonder has potential to become a top class player as Messi.

Reimond Manco

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    LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM - AUGUST 09:  Reimond Manco of PSV Eindhoven pictured during the pre season friendly match between Everton and PSV Eindhoven at Goodison Park on August 9, 2008 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
    David Rogers/Getty Images

    Twenty-year-old Peruvian youngster Reimond Manco who currently play for Juan Aurich is touted as one of the promising youngsters of his generation.

    He is a natural goalscorer who also likes to create chances for his team-mates by dribbling past opposition defenders just like Messi. He has superb pace, excellent technique and a good eye for the goal which makes him a very promising talent.

Nicolas Gaitan

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    LISBON, PORTUGAL - AUGUST 28:  Nicolas Gaitan of Benfica controls the ball during the Portuguese Liga match between Vitoria Setubal and Benfica at Luz Stadium on August 28, 2010 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Patricia de Melo/EuroFootball/Getty Images)
    EuroFootball/Getty Images

    Portuguese club Benfica's 22-year-old prodigious youngster has been described as a cross breed of Messi and Silva.

    The Argentine prodigy has made his national team debut and also is a key player for his club. The diminutive Argentine has got immense potential. He is gifted with world class technique, excellent dribbling abilities and also the ability to score spectacular goals. The way he goes inside opposition defenses and beats them to the goal draws comparisons with the two stalwart players of modern football.

    He has shown immense promise and it is only a matter of time before he bursts into the football world with his footballing skills and takes it by storm.

James Rodriguez : The Colombian Messi

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    Colombian teen sensation James Rodriguez has taken the world by storm with his brilliant performances for his earlier club Banfield.

    The highly-rated youngster has an extremely skillful left foot combined with brilliant skills and lightning pace. His mannerisms, low centre of gravity and inclination to attack from the wings draws comparison with Messi. He signed for Porto in the new season and though he is taking a little time to adjust to European style of football it is expected that the Colombian prodigy will break into the European scene within a few years if not months.

Matias Defederico : Argentina's Newest Messi

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    The 21-year-old Argentine who rose to prominence alongwith fellow club-mate Javier Pastore at Huracan is already being labelled the "New Mess" in his home country.

    The youngsters quick acceleration, superb dribbling quality, unpredictability, similar stature and ability to break through any defense has drawn him such comparisons. His creativity and excellent vision makes him all the more an interesting young proposition for nay manager.

    Though the youngster has failed to match his earlier form at Corinthians it is only a matter of time before he realises his potential and achieves it with flying colours.