A NEW ERA IN FOOTBALL: who is the new king?

Messi and Ronaldo’s decline has coincided with the emergence of new superstars

It seems as though the time has come, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are no longer the undisputed kings of football, with the duo having dominated for a period of over 10 years, and now a new era is ready to start with younger talent at the helm.

Few could have envisaged talents like Ronaldo and Messi emerging at the same time, and those who were able to follow their respective careers will come to appreciate that even more once they have retired.

Yet, nothing can last forever, even if it seemed as both players were getting better with age, and after both Messi and Ronaldo signed for new clubs last summer, the change in environment has shone a light on the start of their respective declines.

Cristiano Ronaldo returned to Manchester United with the intention of putting the club back to the top of English football, but he has discovered an uncomfortable reality where the hugely successful club he left back in 2009 virtually no longer exists with the same working conditions, and he isn’t able to career a team any longer.

Both realisations will have surprised Ronaldo, who has unbelievable self-belief, but he just hasn’t really been able to drag Manchester United forward as many expected.

Messi couldn’t stay at Barcelona, and subsequently signed for Paris Saint-Germain and reunited with his close friend, Neymar.

The Argentine has fallen short, failing to score as many goals as what has become normal for him, and his season is virtually over with PSG out of the Champions League before the quarter-final stage.

This summer could change everything

Many of us wondered just who would take the mantle from Messi/Ronaldo, with Neymar having previously been seen as the one.

Yet, nobody expected the duo to go on for this long and now even the Brazilian is looking at a career that is more than half over.

What is interesting is that this new era of football won’t be defined by just one player… but rather multiple who are all excelling at the moment, and this summer could crown new kings.

There is a transfer market craze to get Kylian Mbappe or Erling Haaland this summer. Everyone is interested but only a select few has a realistic chance at either.

Teams know that these players will define the next decade and a team who has them in their squad will be guaranteed to fight for titles during that time.

This is why Barcelona and Manchester City are so afraid of Real Madrid signing both players, it would be a major swing in Los Blancos’ favour for the next era.

Under-23 players more developed than ever

So vast is the level of coaching that young players receive in the modern game, you can almost make an entire XI out of under-23 players that have very realistic chances of being declared as the best in the world at their respective position.

Trent Alexander-Arnold is a phenomenal right back who could even play in midfield, whilst the central midfielders Pedri and Phil Foden have everything in their locker to become the new Xavi and Andres Iniesta.

Vinicius Jr’s development at Real Madrid has been impressive, especially after a slow start, and there is now a very realistic scenario where Real Madrid’s entire front three at the start of the 2022/23 season is made up of three of the very best under-23 forwards in the game today.

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