The era of football is changing, with the Qatar World Cup marking a bit of a tipping point for the generation of forward players that thrilled the last one-and-a-half decades or so.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi heralded as the beautiful game’s pharaohs over the last 13-14 years have already admitted that this World Cup will be their final one.
Soon after that, players like Ronaldo and Messi – who are nearing their late 30s – will have to contemplate retirement.
A footballer can only go for so long (unless you are 41-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic) and this World Cup will probably be the final dance in a major tournament for many recognized top players from the era that started just over a decade ago.
Not many have stood the test of time more than Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti. He started his playing career in the mid-1970s, continuing as a professional footballer until 1992. After that, he soon turned to football management and has been a football manager for almost 30 years now.
During his time in the beautiful game, Ancelotti has seen many great players come and go. He’s seen enough to gain the experience and knowledge to decipher which of the current younger players can be the major players of the upcoming era without the likes of Ronaldo or Messi.
The Real Madrid boss spoke to Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport recently on various topics related to the ongoing World Cup and revealed the 5 strikers who are going to lead the generation that replaces the likes of Messi, Ronaldo, Ibra and co. –
Ancelotti was quick to name the magnificent Frenchman, despite him rejecting a move to Real Madrid earlier this year. Mbappe has been on fire at the World Cup, scoring 9 goals already and being a frontrunner for the Golden Boot.
It probably won’t take Ancelotti’s words for one to believe that Mbappe will soon be among the world’s very best players and dominate the sport over the next decade.
With his irresistible playing style, rapid pace and fantastic finishing ability, Mbappe should see his popularity soar quickly. Unless something drastic happens, expect to see him feature prominently in the Ballon d’Or race for years to come.
The Manchester City goal machine might not be playing at the World Cup due to Norway’s inability to qualify for it, but his quality is unquestioned. That’s why Haaland has also earned the respect of Ancelotti, who tips him to dominate world football for well over the next decade.
Haaland has been an absolute monster in terms of scoring goals over the last few seasons. He scored 86 goals in 89 appearances for Borussia Dortmund and has already scored 23 goals in just 18 appearances for the Citizens. As long as he can keep scoring goals with this crazy consistency and help City win titles, Haaland should be able to win many individual awards in the near future.
Ancelotti has been left impressed by Richarlison and his clinical nature in front of the goal. The Italian gaffer has tipped the Tottenham Hotspur forward to be among the best of his generation. Richarlison has also been enjoying a very successful World Cup campaign with the Selecao, being their highest scorer in the competition with three goals.
But those goals weren’t any ordinary ones either, with one being an amazing acrobatic finish against Serbia and another amazing one against South Korea. The Brazilian forward is like a sly fox in the final third, possessing a lot of quality to finish off chances easily and that should help him stay in the spotlight for many years.
Another Man City striker to earn Ancelotti’s praises is Julian Alvarez. The Italian manager believes that he has the quality to dominate football in the new era. Alvarez has been a major success story for Argentina at the World Cup, displacing Lautaro Martinez from the no.9 position in the team.
He has scored 2 goals so far for the Argentine side, helping win multiple games for them. Alvarez has a very similar playing style to Sergio Aguero, probably why City signed him. He’s a real firecracker in the final third and should maintain his reputation as an impactful striker in the long term.
The much-talked-about Liverpool striker has earned Real Madrid’s gaffer’s praises too. Ancelotti believes that Nunez will be one of world football’s best forwards over the next decade and earn a lot of success. The Uruguayan has had a topsy-turvy start to the new season, earning some criticism for some topsy-turvy performances for Liverpool.
He didn’t have the best of outings at the World Cup but has scored 9 goals in 18 appearances for the Reds. If he can keep his temper and fitness levels in check, Nunez definitely has the predatorial instinct and finishing prowess to score many goals in the years to come.