Bleacher Report is one of the world’s most trustworthy and entertaining sports content providers. Based out of San Francisco, the website provides real-time updates and the latest content on everything going on around in the world of sports. In 2012, they published an article predicting the top footballers in 2020. We will look at the top 5 players of their prediction and see where these ‘2012 future stars’ are now.
5. Christian Eriksen
Eriksen burst onto the scene in 2010 playing for Dutch side Ajax. After a few successful years and showcasing sparks of his true potential, Tottenham signed the Danish international in the 2013/14 season.
Over the next seven years, Christian Eriksen established himself as one of the first names in the team. He was a set-piece specialist racking up 27 assists from corners and freekicks. His partnership with Harry Kane and later on Son Heung-min proved to be lethal for the London based football club as they tore defences throughout the league.
Having registered 78 goals and 86 career assists, Eriksen established himself as a world-class player but failed to be recognised as the best in the league. His performances earned him the Spurs player of the year in 2013/14 and 2016/17, but despite this, his trophy cabinet remains untouched with Tottenham. After suffering an unfortunate Cardiac Arrest at the EURO 2020, Eriksen is currently a free agent with no club to represent.
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After Pep Guardiola’s successful spell at Barcelona, he joined German giants Bayern Munich in 2013, and he took Spanish midfielder Thiago Alcantara with him. Watching Thiago on the ball was as pleasing as it comes, with his touches being perfect and his ability to do a variety of passes lit up the Allianz Arena.
Thiago has an average 90.5% pass success rate for Bayern in the Bundesliga, playing as a deep-lying playmaker. In his seven seasons with the club, he won 7 Bundesliga, 4 DFB-Pokal, and one champions league, among other trophies. He was part of the Bayern squad, which won the historic treble in 2019-20.
Presently, Thiago is playing for the English side Liverpool that he joined in 2020. Until now, he has failed to live up to his standards set at Bayern but has shown glimpses of his true abilities. Thiago was an integral part of Bayern’s success over the past years but was never even known as the greatest in his team.
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3. Eden Hazard
The football world is shocked at how unfortunate things have been for Eden Hazard. After tearing up the Ligue 1 with Lille, Chelsea signed the Belgian international in 2012. In the seasons after that, Hazard scored 96 goals and had 73 assists.
Hazard, who became a household name, lit up the premier league with his thrilling performances, which earned him a well-deserved move to Real Madrid. He was a complete forward, helping his team score goals, providing assists, and creating a link-up play. During his stint at Chelsea, he even outperformed Messi and Ronaldo on various aspects and was believed to be the 3rd best player in the world after them.
But things went downhill from there. Ever since his switch to Madrid in 2019, Hazard has been plagued with injuries. He has only made 40 appearances in La Liga for Madrid. He was even reported to have turned up 5 kgs overweight for training. He hasn’t been fully fit, and it seems like the 30-year old’s best days are behind him. One of the greatest of the premier league; it is truly sad to see Eden Hazard’s career take an unfortunate turn.
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2. Mario Gotze
With the 2014 World Cup final at 0-0 between Germany and Argentina, Mario Gotze was introduced in the game’s dying moments. The game now in extra time, a 22-year-old Gotze was determined to influence the game.
A cross from the left saw Gotze control the ball and volley it into the goal to bring the World Cup home for Germany. But his name has been forgotten ever since. Once the hero of a whole country, Gotze is now playing his football for Dutch side PSV Eindhoven.
Gotze burst onto the scene with German side Borrusia Dortmund. After a few prosperous years, he made a controversial switch to rivals Bayern. The transfer misfired for his career as he returned to Dortmund in 3 years. His stint at Bayern and second spell at Dortmund were filled with injuries and poor form. He failed to reach the heights he was predicted to, but he has a World Cup and 5 Bundesliga titles to his name.
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By far the biggest name on this list, Neymar is arguably the 3rd best player of this generation. His performances for Santos in Brazil earned the young winger a move to Spanish club FC Barcelona. Neymar took time to settle into Spanish football, but he won the treble with Barca in only his second season.
He became a part of the famous trio of Messi, Suarez and Neymar (MSN). His treble-winning side is also considered to be one of the best Champions League teams in the history of the tournament. In 2017, Neymar transferred to French giants PSG in a deal that made him the most expensive player on the planet.
Despite regularly being on the scoresheet and winning titles in an easier league, Neymar hasn’t looked the same as his Barca days. He has picked up frequent injuries, which saw him miss out on crucial games for PSG. Furthermore, his off-field antics and improper training mentality have stopped him from being the best he could be.
Throughout his career, Neymar has been a joy to watch. An aesthetically pleasing player, we would never find out how good a player he would have been had he been more determined and made better career choices.
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