Cristiano Ronaldo once predicted who would succeed him as the best player in the world, although not all of his choices lived up to his expectations.
Ronaldo is no longer the best player on the planet, but he was on top of the world back in 2017.
The Portuguese striker helped Real Madrid complete the La Liga and Champions League double in the 2016/17 season, scoring 53 goals in all competitions that year.
In terms of individual awards, Ronaldo swept the Ballon d’Or, the FIFA Best Player Award and the UEFA Player of the Year Award.
After winning the latter in August 2017, Ronaldo was asked which player he thought might one day surpass him as the best player in the world.
He said six years ago: “There are at least 10 players in the next generation who have very, very great potential.”
So, how did these players perform?
In hindsight, Ronaldo’s inclusion of Asensio in the top line-up may seem a bit generous, but his 21-year-old team-mate at the time certainly looked outstanding.
The Spanish winger became the fourth youngest player to score in a Champions League final when he scored against Juventus in 2017, but he has failed to establish himself as a top talent since then.
After his contract expired in June, Asensio joined Ligue 1 champion Paris Saint-Germain on a free transfer.
That’s pretty much it. As Ronaldo predicted, Mbappe has been one of the best players in the world pretty much ever since he burst onto the scene as a teenager at Monaco in 2016/17.
In the summer of 2017, he moved to Paris Saint-Germain and hasn’t stopped scoring goals since then.
He even did it on the international stage. Not content with leading France to the World Cup in 2018, the 19-year-old came close to repeating the feat in 2022.
Ronaldo highlighted Mbappe’s PSG team-mate Neymar, but it’s hard to argue the Brazilian has reached the same heights.
The crafty attacker was the original heir apparent to Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s throne, but he seems to have lost his way a bit over the past few years.
Controversy has followed Neymar like a bad smell, and the 31-year-old currently plays for Al Hilal in the Saudi Professional League.
Dembélé performed so well for Borussia Dortmund in 2017 that Barcelona signed him for £135 million.
However, the French winger has never reached his peak since moving to Spain, with injuries plaguing him.
He has undergone a minor renaissance recently and, like Asensio, currently plays for Ligue 1 side Paris Saint-Germain
Hazard was arguably the best player in the world in 2018, but when he moved to Real Madrid in 2019 to replace Ronaldo, everything fell apart.
The Belgian winger only made 54 appearances during his four years at the Santiago Bernabeu due to injuries and poor form, making him one of the biggest transfer flops in recent years.
In October, at the age of 32, he announced his retirement from professional football.
Like Dembele and Kylian Mbappe, Rashford made a splash as a teenager by terrorizing defenses, but has struggled with injury and form in recent years.
The England international rediscovered his scoring touch last season and despite a slow start to the season, Rashford remains one of United’s biggest assets.