July 17, 2024

The Queens County Citizen

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Who is the next “Best player in the World”?

The debate over the best player in the world has raged for years between backers of Cristiano Ronaldo and those who supported the claims of Lionel Messi. At this point, with both players in the winter of their careers, it is reasonable to call the debate over. With greater personal statistics and a World Cup win to his name, Messi has clearly got the stronger claim to that title. There’s little more Ronaldo can do at this point, having chosen to set aside a last attempt at top honours by moving to Al-Nassr in Saudi Arabia. There he will be paid handsomely and see a few more bettors use their bonus codes for New-Zealand to bet on a league they previously hadn’t considered. Good, even great, but not the greatest.

When these two titans finally vacate the stage, the crown will be up for grabs – and perhaps it already is. Messi will continue to perform for PSG and probably also for Argentina for the moment. However, the battle to become the next best player in the world is only just beginning. There is space for any number of players to come in and make it their own, but at present, there are three names that you would struggle to exclude from any debate – and for the sake of clarity, we’re excluding Kevin de Bruyne because at 31, as great as he still is, he’s unlikely to still be playing at the same level five years from now.

Kylian Mbappe 

It’s quite a thing for PSG – who have never won Europe’s top trophy – to have the world’s best player and his most likely successor in the same team. They might not, for much longer. Mbappe is likely to want to test himself in another league if PSG can’t grab top European silverware. And he could name his club and his price, because he’s an astoundingly gifted footballer with years ahead of him. Already a World Cup winner in 2018, he was arguably the best performer in the 2022 final against Messi’s Argentina. Pace, touch, finishing and vision – he’s got it all, and his prime is still arguably three years away.

Erling Haaland

At 6’4 and 87 kg, Haaland has unfairly had to deal with assertions that his size is the primary gift in his armory. In truth, he’s an exceptional footballer because his game seems to lack weaknesses. Yes, he’s big, but he’s also lightning fast and knows innately where to run. In the unlikely event that a defender can keep up with him, they won’t be able to bully him; what would be the point? With four hat-tricks to his name in just over half a season in England, the Manchester City man is set to break Premier League records. He may never pick up a World Cup medal unless Norway suddenly find another five or six players like him, but Haaland could end up breaking every scoring record there is to break.

Vinicius Junior

Neymar probably has one more World Cup bid in him, but the torch of Brazil’s golden boy has realistically already passed to Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior. He’s already entered the history books by notching the winning goal in a World Cup final, and he’s that rare, delightful gem – a player marked for greatness in his mid-teens who has managed the step up to the elite level without a stumble. Three and a half years from now, with Neymar supported by Gabriel Jesus, Richarlison, this guy and probably Endrick, the Seleccao might just have the magic formula to regain the World Cup after 24 years without one.

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