The term ‘the next’ gets bandied around a lot in football – especially by the tabloids generating the ever-rotating transfer rumour mill.
Indeed, one impressive appearance at right-back for Fleetwood Town could soon lead a young starlet to the unofficial moniker of ‘the next Gary Nevillem’ or a handful of promising performances up front for Santos could quickly earn a striking whipper-snapper the title of ‘the next Pele’ – regardless of the fact he’s considered to be the greatest player in the history of the sport.
None the less, ‘the next’ is a description that always captures the imagination, somehow propelling the past into the future, leaving you to consider what the 2015 equivalent of Dennis Bergkamp, Paul Ince or Bobby Moore might well look like.
And just like the rest of you, Football Fancast have been successfully drawn in, spending the last few hours trawling the darkest corners of the internet to find the top FIVE ‘the next someones’ all linked to Premier League side Manchester United.
A comparison that will be of particular importance to Manchester United fans, upon The Daily Star’s revelation that virtually every major Premier League club wants to get their hands on Leeds midfielder Lewis Cook this summer, the Whites youngster has been dubbed ‘the next Paul Scholes’.
The 18 year-old has emerged as a key member of Leeds’ starting Xi since his Championship debut in August, going on to make 37 league appearances. And he’s become so important manager Neil Redfearn specifically bemoaned the midfielder’s absence during a recent run of poor results – as reported by Here Is The City.
He’s certainly a talented prospect, but does the Scholes comparison really hold up? Cook’s pass completion rate stands at just 75% this season – even as a teenager, such an unspectacular return would’ve given the ginger maestro nightmares.
Brendan Rodgers gave us the Welsh Xavi when he signed Joe Allen for Liverpool, and Feyenoord have now given us the Dutch Xavi – aka, Jordy Clasie, who will be no stranger to Manchester United fans.
The Netherlands international has been in strong form this term, bagging one goal and five assists from 27 Eredivisie appearances whilst creating 1.4 chances per match.
And as you’d expect from an apparent incarnate of the Barcelona icon, the 23 year-old boasts the second-most passes per match of any player in the division this season, after Ajax defender Niklas Moisander.
Clasie’s been linked with an Old Trafford switch before, in no small part due to him featuring in Oranje’s World Cup semi-final against Argentina last summer under then-Netherlands boss Louis van Gaal.
The midfielder has recently admitted his desire to try opportunities abroad, suggesting a summer move is on the cards. Unfortunately for the Red Devils, however, he views Italy as his likeliest next destination – as reported by The Daily Star.
According to reports from talkSPORT in March, the Red Devils are currently courting Fluminense starlet Kenedy, who has earned himself the unofficial moniker of ‘the next Neymar’.
Much like the Barcelona star, the 19 year-old forward is famed for his fleet of foot, trickery and netting prowess, having already bagged five goals in 36 appearances for the Rio outfit – alongside six goals and thirteen caps for the Brazil U17s.
The young striker, nowadays representing Selecao at U20 level, has been linked to some major clubs before, namely Barcelona, Chelsea and Inter Milan, but talkSPORT claim United have put a £5.7million offer on the table. We’re waiting for confirmation on whether it’s been accepted or not.
There’s one key difference between Kenedy and Neymar, however – the Fluminense prodigy is predominantly left-footed.
Over the weekend, The Express reported Manchester United’s apparent interest in FC Twente youngster Bilal Ould-Chikh, who has drawn comparisons with Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben.
Much like the former Chelsea man, the 17 year-old is sensationally quick, especially with the ball at his feet – this term averaging 1.4 successful dribbles per match.
He’s been used sparingly by coach Alfred Schrueder and confined to a cameo role, making just four starts and eleven substitute appearances, but grabbed his first Eredivise goal back in January during a 2-0 win over Heracles – as shown in the video above.
That’s built upon the reputation Ould-Chikh gained for his impressive performances during the U17 European Championships, in total boasting 13 appearances for the Netherlands across the junior levels.
Most appealingly, Twente may be forced to surrender their prodigious wideman on the cheap this summer, according to The Express once again, with his contract set to enter its final year.
Finishing off this list is a striker every major club in Europe – including Manchester United – apparently want to get their hands on this summer, Palermo’s Paulo Dybala.
Indeed, it’s been a mesmerising campaign for the Rosanero front-man, propelling his side to eleventh in the Italian table with a potent haul of 13 goals and nine assists in 29 Serie A appearances.
He was dubbed ‘the next Sergio Aguero’ when he moved to Italy in 2012 and the 21 year-old is certainly living up to that moniker, sharing the Manchester City striker’s blend of mobility, creativity, dribbling ability and deadly proficiency in front of goal.
And it looks like the young Argentine will be on the move this summer, with Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini claiming he’ll even be sold by the end of April – as reported by The Daily Star.
That doesn’t give the Red Devils much time to pull their finger out.