At 36, Cristiano Ronaldo is still one of the best footballers in the world. However, in 2015 he already looked at possible successors.
It’s a question football fans around the world have been asking for years: What happens when Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi hang up their shoes one day?
This was one of the topics covered in an interview with Ronaldo at BT Sport in 2015. The now 36-year-old Portuguese was asked which young players could one day take over from himself and Messi and dominate world football.
The first name Ronaldo gave was that of Martin Odegaard. “At 16, he’s still very young, but you can tell he’s a very good player,” CR7 said at the time. He knew Odegaard very well from Real Madrid, of course the Norwegian midfielder had recently moved to Los Blancos.
Cristiano Ronaldo also mentioned Hazard and Pogba
Today Odegaard is 23 – and at least he didn’t break through at Real. Nevertheless, the super technician showed the great potential in him at several loan stations and last summer Arsenal signed him for €35 million. Odegaard is a fixture at the Gunners and one of the key players at the moment.
Which four other actors did Ronaldo predict a great future at the time? “Hazard (Eden, the editor) is another example. Depay, the number 7 of Manchester United (the editor at the time) is very good. And then maybe Pogba and Neymar.”
We analyze one after the other: Eden Hazard was already a seasoned star player at Chelsea and continued to develop in the years that followed. In his heyday with the Blues, the Belgian was always on the doorstep of the very best players in the world – but that has changed since his move to Real Madrid in the summer of 2019.
At Los Blancos, Hazard first arrived with fitness issues and then was thrown back repeatedly due to injuries. To date, he has never lived up to expectations in Madrid and at the age of 30, the attacking player’s career is clearly on the wane.
Memphis Depay: New momentum in Lyon, now at Barca
For Memphis Depay, things never went the way he had envisioned at Manchester United. After only a year and a half, he left the English again and gave his career a new impulse at Olympique Lyon. The now 27-year-old Dutchman is now employed by FC Barcelona and is one of the hopes for a better future there.
Where the future of Paul Pogba lies after the coming summer is now open. Not only did Ronaldo expect an even bigger career from the French at the time of his testimony, but Pogba is still world champion and still one of the best midfielders out there. His contract with Manchester United expires at the end of the season, after which he could leave the English to another top club.
Meanwhile, Neymar is still waiting for his first Ballon d’Or. For years, the Brazilian was considered the “best of the rest” behind Messi and Ronaldo and the most logical successor, but many injuries prevented him from being named the best footballer in the world.
The now 29-year-old attacker has remained the most expensive player of all time since moving from Barcelona to PSG in 2017 for €222 million.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s stats for the 2014-15 season