6 footballers tipped to be the ‘next Cristiano Ronaldo’ and where they are now

Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the greatest players to ever grace the world of football, and has been at the very top of his game for almost 15 years.

Manchester United forward Ronaldo's incredible long-lasting ability has been highlighted this season, due to his consistent goal scoring in the Premier League even at the age of 36.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner is one of the most decorated footballers of all-time, and since his rise from Sporting Lisbon as an 18-year-old, many stars of a similar age now get labelled 'the next Ronaldo' as they embark on their own careers.

It's an almost impossible level to reach, but some stars have shown the same level of promise as Ronaldo did, although the expectation ultimately proved too much as their careers took a very different turn

Here Daily Star Sport take a look at six players who were tipped as the 'next Ronaldo', and where they are now…


Nani couldn't have been much closer to being the carbon copy of Ronaldo on paper, as the star also came from Sporting Lisbon, and is just one year younger than the five-time Ballon d'Or winner.

Sir Alex Ferguson spent £21m on Nani in 2007 in the hope that the Portuguese star could produce a similar impact to that of Ronaldo, and although he had a solid career at United, it was far from the numbers CR7 had reached.

Nani lasted eight years at United, although he only averaged 18 Premier League appearances a season, before heading to Fenerbahce in 2015 for £4m.

The Portuguese star is now one of the biggest faces in MLS, and the 35-year-old is one of Orlando City's key players.

Gabriel Obertan

Gabriel Obertan was signed as the direct replacement for Ronaldo who left for Real Madrid in 2009, and the Frenchman arrived for £3m from Bordeaux.

The Frenchman was immediately out of his depth and didn't score his first goal until a year later, although it was during a pre-season game against American side Philadelphia Union.

Obertan signed for Newcastle after just two seasons at United, but despite seeing out the entirety of his five-year contract, the Frenchman only made 58 league appearances, scoring two goals.

Now 32, Obertan is playing for Charlotte Independence in the second tier of US football, alonside fellow Frenchman and former Newcastle star Sylvain Marveaux.

Goncalo Guedes

Goncalo Guedes is the youngest inclusion on this list, and still has the potential to be a real talent in Europe after his promising start to life at Valencia.

The Portuguese star came through Benfica's academy and his performances earned a move to Paris Saint Germain as a 20-year-old.

The move stalled his progress but a loan to Valencia got his career back on the right track, and a permanent move has helped the now 24-year-old make 90 La Liga appearances over the last three years.

Guedes helped his side to Copa Del Rey success over Barcelona in 2019, as Valencia won their first trophy in 11 years.

Wilfried Zaha

Wilfried Zaha was signed by United in January 2013, but didn't make his debut until David Moyes took charge in the summer of that year, in what turned out to be a disastrous spell for both player and manager.

Zaha came through the youth academy at Crystal Palace and was signed for £10m after making over 100 league appearances in three seasons for the Eagles.

The Ivorian only went on to make two league appearances for United, and was loaned out to Cardiff after just six months as he struggled to settle at Old Trafford.

Zaha was then loaned back to Palace for the 2014/15 season before re-signing on a permanent deal, and the 29-year-old has been welcomed back at Selhurst Park, making a further 226 league appearances for the club since returning.


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Bruma also came out of the Sporting academy – seemingly a natural place to breed 'new Ronaldo's', and impressed as he scored 80 goals for various youth sides within the set-up before making his first-team appearance.

However, just a year later after a difficult contract discussion with Sporting, Bruma moved to Galatasaray and spent the next four years in Turkey.

After an inconsistent spell with the Turkish giants, Bruma moved to RB Leipzig in 2017 before heading to PSV Eindhoven in 2019, who loaned him to Olympiacos last season.

Bruma may have finally found his feet after all, as the 27-year-old has managed five goals in 11 league appearances for PSV this season.

Jese Rodriguez

Jese Rodriguez came through the Madrid academy in 2011 as Ronaldo was really reaching his peak, and the Spaniard was tipped as the next big thing at Los Blancos after scoring 32 goals in two seasons for their youth side.

Jose Mourinho gave the star his first-team debut in 2011, and Rodriguez looked to be gaining some momentum in the side over the next few years, but a horror injury disrupted his career.

Rodriguez suffered a complete tear of the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, and upon his return almost a year later, he had fallen down the pecking order and secured a move to PSG in 2016.

Still highly rated, PSG spent £20m on Rodriguez, but the star was loaned out four times during his four years in the French capital.

The Spaniard, still only 28, now is enjoying life at Las Palmas who play in the Spanish second tier, and Rodriguez has managed seven goals in 16 league games this season.

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