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Lionel Messi tipped ten players for greatness back in 2015 and two are currently in the Premier League

Lionel Messi tipped ten players for greatness back in 2015 and two are currently in the Premier League

Lionel Messi tipped ten players for greatness back in 2015.

Lionel Messi tipped ten players for greatness back in 2015.

Messi is undisputedly among the greatest players of all time, having won 42 trophies in his storied career including ten La Liga crowns, four Champions Leagues, a World Cup and a Copa America.

The 36-year-old has also claimed a record eight Ballon d’Or trophies, three more than his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo’s five.

But how good is the pint-sized Argentine at identifying potential in others? In 2015, the forward partnered with Adidas for the launch of the 'Backed by Messi' campaign, with the then-Barcelona star having been asked to pick out ten young footballers destined to become world-class.

But what has happened to those ten youngsters?

Jeremie Boga

Boga was at Chelsea when Messi tipped him for stardom. He left the Blues permanently in 2018 after a series of loan spells and found his feet in Serie A with Sassuolo.

His form there earned him an initial loan move to Atalanta in January 2022, which was then made permanent in July of that same year. However, after recording just two goals and five assists in his first full season with La Dea the Ivory Coast international moved to French side Nice.

In Ligue 1 this term Boga, now 27, has only managed four goals and two assists.

Accursio Bentivegna

Playing for Palermo alongside Paulo Dybala when tipped for stardom, Bentivegna made a bright start to life in professional football.

However, the winger didn’t quite reach the levels expected. Bentivegna made a permanent move to Carrarese in 2018 following an initial loan, while at 27 he now plays for Serie C Group A side Novara FC in the Italian third tier, where he is on loan from Juve Stabia.


Kenedy made the move to Chelsea from Fluminense in the summer of 2015 but never became the player Messi expected.

At Stamford Bridge, the Brazilian made 30 appearances while also spending time on loan at the likes of Newcastle and Getafe.

He left West London in September 2022 for Real Valladolid on a permanent deal, only for the Spanish side to be relegated, with Kenedy not finding the back of the net in just 12 appearances in his first season.

This season he has made 26 appearances in Spain’s second tier, but scored just two goals.

Maxwel Cornet

A young Cornet caught Messi’s eye while at Lyon, where the attacker scored 51 times and created a further 29 goals.

The Ivorian moved to Burnley in 2021 and was a bright spark despite Sean Dyche’s men being relegated. His efforts at Turf Moor saw West Ham sign him for a reported £17.5 million, but Cornet featured just 14 teams for the Hammers in the Premier League in his first season, scoring zero goals.

This term has seen injuries restrict him to just five Premier League appearances.

Cornet has barely featured for West Ham this term (Getty)
Cornet has barely featured for West Ham this term (Getty)

Aleksei Miranchuk

Miranchuk was at Lokomotiv Moscow when Messi tipped him for greatness. There he scored 43 times and created 46 goals in 228 games, before earning a move to Atalanta in 2020.

However, the midfielder has struggled to establish himself at the Serie A club since.

He has shown glimpses of what he could offer on loan at Torino, however, where he scored four goals and provided five assists.

Now back at Atalanta, Miranchuk has featured on 19 occasions in the league this term.

Timo Werner

Werner is arguably the most successful of the players on the list. Tipped for greatness while at Stuttgart, the German went on to lift the Champions League after moving to Chelsea in 2020.

However, having been once ruthless in front of goal for RB Leipzig, Werner made just 89 appearances for the Blues and managed 23 goals.

He is currently on loan at Tottenham from Leipzig and has made eight appearances and netted twice for Ange Postecoglou's men.

Rony Lopes

Lopes was at Manchester City when Messi put him forward as a future world-class talent.

He made five outings for the Premier League side, before completing a permanent move to Monaco in 2015.

There he scored 15 league goals in the 2017/18 season before earning a move to Sevilla in 2019, with Wissam Ben Yedder going the other way.

A series of loans followed to Nice, Olympiacos and Troyes before Lopes joined Portuguese side, Braga, where he has made 15 league appearances this term but scored just once.

James Wilson is now playing for League One side Port Vale (Getty)
James Wilson is now playing for League One side Port Vale (Getty)

James Wilson

Manchester United fans once thought James Wilson was destined for greatness when he emerged at the end of the 2013/14 season and bagged a brace on his debut against Hull.

That and his record at youth level won the attention of the likes of Messi.

However, Wilson’s United career slowly dwindled under Louis van Gaal and the player went on to trickle down the football pyramid after failed loan spells.

He left United in 2019 for Scottish side Aberdeen, before spending time at Salford City.

This season, he has scored three goals in 26 League One appearances for Port Vale.

Gyasi Zardes

Zardes scored 16 goals as LA Galaxy won the MLS Cup in 2014 while he became the first homegrown player to score in the cup's final that campaign.

However, injuries saw him never fulfil his potential. He moved to Columbus Crew in 2018 and would go on to win the 2018 MLS Comeback Player of the Year award.

The 32-year-old is currently playing at Austin, where he is yet to score this season.

Khiry Shelton

Shelton was selected as the second overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft by New York City FC in 2015.

However, he never reached the heights expected. He left New York for Sporting Kansas City in 2017 before moving to SC Paderborn in Germany two years later.

The 30-year-old has been back in Kansas since 2020.

Featured Image Credit: Getty/Adidas via YouTube

Topics: Lionel Messi, Football