These days, the sport of soccer is bigger than ever. Players of today are faster and more technically adept than before. There are also a slew of (very) young players turning the game upside down with their amazing ability. Soccer is even getting bigger in the United States, and when the richest nation on Earth starts to pay full attention to the world’s most popular game, you can be sure that money is going to start flooding in. At this point in time, the most recognizable faces of soccer are Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. There is no doubt that these two players are brilliant ambassadors of the game, but there are several talented players on their heels trying to nab the top spot. Here are ten of them below.
10 Anthony Martial
One of the hot new stars on the global soccer scene is Anthony Martial, a 19-yr-old French player who currently plays for Manchester United in the English Premier League. For the last two years, he was a player for the French soccer club, Monaco, but his transfer to Manchester United was recently completed for a whopping 36 million pounds. That’s the highest transfer fee ever paid for a teenager. To date, his career as Manchester United has been a great success. He has scored 4 goals in 3 games, and he’s looking like he’s worth every cent of his humongous transfer tab. He has already garnered comparisons to another French soccer icon, Thierry Henry, and his future looks very bright indeed.
9 Thomas Muller
Germans are known for their precision, exactness and meticulous nature. That’s why it’s no surprise that the German center forward and striker Thomas Muller is one of the best attacking soccer players in the game. He currently plays for Bayern Munich in Germany and he also happens to be one of the main stars of the German national team. In the 2014 World Cup, he was a major part of the team that eventually went the whole way and won the ultimate prize. He scored five goals during that tournament and ended up winning the Silver Boot for scoring the second most goals in the competition. He is only 26-yrs-old, so there are many more years for him to shine.
8 Robert Lewandowski
There are a handful of strikers who are really establishing themselves as elite players in global soccer. One of those superbly talented players is the big Polish striker, Robert Lewandowski. He is the captain of the Polish national soccer team and he currently plays for the German club, Bayern Munich. He recently did something phenomenal in a soccer game that made the headlines all over the world. He was brought on a substitute in a Bayern game versus Wolfsburg and he scored five goals in nine minutes. With this performance, Lewandowski made the record books as the fastest time someone has ever scored that many goals in the European League. He’s still just 27-yrs-old so you can expect a lot more dazzling performances from him.
7 Eden Hazard
One of the greatest players to ever play the game of soccer was Diego Maradona of Argentina. Eden Hazard, a Belgian soccer player has often been compared to Maradona because of his low center of gravity, dribbling skills and creativity on the ball. Hazard is just 24-yrs-old and he is a major player in his country’s national team and he is an integral member of Chelsea football club in the United Kingdom. Last year, he helped Chelsea win the League Cup and Premier League, and he was also named the PFA Player of the Year. In the current Premier League season, he’s having a difficult time finding his previous form. But the fact still remains that whenever he touches the ball, spectators always expect magic to happen.
6 Gareth Bale
It’s hard to be on the same team with Ronaldo and still get your share of the headlines. But that’s exactly what the Welsh winger Gareth Bale has been able to do. He’s known as spot kick specialist and his speed and wizardry down the flanks are just amazing to behold. You would imagine that talent like this comes at a very high price, and you’d be absolutely right. In September 2013, Bale was transferred from Tottenham Hotspur in the UK to Real Madrid for a fee of over 90 million Euros. He reportedly earns over $15 million a year, not to mention all his endorsement deals. So it’s safe to say that Mr. Bale won’t be hurting for cash any time soon.
5 Raheem Sterling
Nowadays, soccer stars are getting younger and younger, and one of the top stars on the world scene is the 20-yr-old Raheem Sterling. He was originally born in Jamaica, but he migrated to England at the age of 7. He currently plays for the English national team, and for a couple of seasons, he played with the popular UK club Liverpool. He is an extremely talented winger and he is known for his amazing speed and agility on the field. This summer, this young talent made the record books when he moved from Liverpool to Manchester City for an astronomical transfer fee of 49 million Euros.
4 Jesus Corona
This past summer, the Mexican national team was able to shirk off years and years of underachieving by winning the Gold Cup soccer tournament. Mexico has long been considered as one of the power house nations of soccer, but they never seem to be able to get over that elusive hump and really stamp their dominance. One of their new young stars is a dribbling wizard named Jesus Corona. When he gets the ball, the crowd immediately gets excited because he’s a brilliant technician who plays with loads of passion and zeal. He’s still only 22-yrs-old and he currently plays for the Porto football club in Portugal. Keep your eyes on this guy - he’s destined to be huge.
3 James Rodriguez
The 2014 World Cup in Brazil really created some huge stars on the global soccer scene. One of those newly minted stars was the handsome attacking player James Rodriguez of Colombia. Not only did he take his national team to the quarter-finals, but he also won the Golden Boot title of the tournament by scoring six goals throughout the entire tournament. After the World Cup, he completed an amazing transfer from Monaco in France to Real Madrid in Spain for 80 million Euros. He currently plays on the same team as Cristiano Ronaldo and he is quickly working his way to superstar status.
2 Paul Pogba
When you are mentioning some of the brightest upcoming stars in soccer today, you definitely need to mention the young and extremely talented French player, Paul Pogba. He’s a tall player (6”2”) and his skills with the ball, poise on the field and accuracy of his passes have made him one of the top midfield generals in the game today. He currently plays for the Italian team Juventus and he’s one of the main reasons that soccer club is experiencing such a remarkable resurgence. This past summer, there was a huge bidding war between some of the biggest soccer clubs (Chelsea, Manchester City) for his services. He ended up staying with Juventus, but you can be sure that in the next few years, he will be at the very top of the sport.
Neymar is one of the current soccer prodigies on the scene who is destined to be a super star for many more years to come. He’s only 23-yrs-old and he has already been on the scene for several years as one of the top forwards and wingers in the world. He is the captain of the Brazilian national team and he’s also one of the biggest stars of Barcelona, one of the most influential football clubs in the world. According to Forbes, his yearly salary is $31 million and he has huge endorsement deals that earn him tons of cash every year. In the years coming, Neymar might surpass Messi or Ronaldo in terms of popularity and influence.