The beautiful thing about soccer is that it never ends. Season after season we get to watch our favorite clubs compete for all honors, battling away and changing their rosters often. We truly have to appreciate our star players in that moment because before you know it, they will be gone. The career of a soccer player is rather complex. Despite the fact they earn super-high wages, the career is albeit, a short one. Players would be lucky to spend 10-15 years at the highest level. This isn’t necessarily taking into account injuries, actually having a club for all this period and the league/level they play at. Even in this current era which has been dominated by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, it might be some time until we see a competition quite like this one again. So who are the young stars that could one day compete to become legends on the level of Messi, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Lampard, Rooney…? Find out below.
Mason Greenwood – Manchester United
Greenwood has really hit the ground running this season, after a somewhat average season last year. The rise of Mason Greenwood has often been highlighted as the greatest success from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s tenure as manager of Manchester Untied, but there was a worry that he wasn’t quite mature enough to rise to the plate so quickly. After impressing initially, Greenwood eventually earned himself an England call-up, only to be sent home following controversially exiting the team bubble during a critical moment in the pandemic. This season, he has been managed much better. He has been intentionally left out of the England set-up right now, in order to focus on his Manchester United spot- and he hasn’t looked back. Greenwood has made that right-wing position his own, and has certainly been the game-changer in that attack on many occasions, despite the young age and prominence of star striker Cristiano Ronaldo. Watch out for this one, he is only going to get better and better.
Jude Bellingham – Borussia Dortmund
Bellingham has been spoken about a lot in recent times, and is probably the most spoken about teenager in soccer right now. At the ripe age of 18, he has become a key player in the center of the park for Borussia Dortmund, as they attempt to finally dislodge the Bundesliga title from the hands of rivals, Bayern Munich. Having spent a solitary season at Birmingham City, establishing himself as a key player at the age of 16, he withstood interest from big Premier League sides and moved to Germany for a fee of £25 million- the largest of any 17 year old ever. Bellingham led by Jadon Sancho’s example, where instead of moving to a big team straight away and possibly waiting years for his chance, he could move to a top Bundesliga club and play straight away. Similarly to Sancho, we are sure that we will see him make the move to a Premier League side one day, but by then he will already surely be considered a world-class star. Having already broken into Gareth Southgate’s England set-up, he could potentially become the greatest British Midfielder of all time.
Bukayo Saka – Arsenal
Saka is another one who has come a long way in a short time, and is one of Arsenal’s main men at the moment. This is the issue though. Young players need not only time to mature, but to be managed properly. If at 18, 19, you find yourself playing every single game and being relied on as the game-changer, the pressure will get to you. It seems this is what is happening to Bukayo Saka. It wasn’t so long ago he was playing as a utility left back for Arsenal; whereas now he is the main right-winger for the side. Established stars Aubameyang and Lacazette aren’t performing, so the spotlight has fallen on Saka even more. Where a team like Man City has Mahrez, Silva, Jesus, Sterling; among others, Arsenal’s best attacking players are quite young themselves. A team like Arsenal has a great foundation for the future, but without experienced heads helping to nurture this young talent, players like Saka, Ødegaard and Lokonga will experience burnout, and possibly hinder their progress. Hopefully there is more to see from Saka and he can truly rise to the top.