In 2012, the 10 best players in the world for 2020 were predicted


Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were the leading players throughout the 2010s.

And they'll still be at the top of world football for at least the first few years of the new decade.

Ronaldo is now 35 but is still scoring goals for fun at Juventus. Messi is a few months away from his 33rd birthday but produces extraordinary performances on a week-to-week basis.

But, eight years ago, how many people would have predicted they'd still be at the top of world football in 2020? Not many. 

And one news outlet that thought they'd not be the players they are today are Bleacher Report.

In 2012, they tried to predict who would be the top 10 players in the world in 2020.

It's always a dangerous game trying to predict so far into the future and it's fair to say some of their choices look amusing now.

10. Mamadou Sakho

In 2012: Paris Saint-Germain

In 2020: Crystal Palace

Sakho was 22 when the list was created and had just had a great 2011/2012 season with Paris Saint-Germain.

He soon got demoted to third-choice centre-back under Carlo Ancelotti, though, before moving to Liverpool for £18m in 2013.

He flattered to deceive in his three seasons at the Reds and now plays for Crystal Palace.

Sakho isn't anywhere near the top 10 defenders in the world, let alone the 10 best players.


9. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

In 2012: Arsenal

In 2020: Liverpool

In June 2012, Oxlade-Chamberlain was just 18 and had completed his first full season at Arsenal.

He stayed for five more seasons but failed to improve as many predicted, before making the £40m move to Liverpool.

He's since converted to central-midfield and has impressed under Jurgen Klopp.

8. Mario Balotelli

In 2012: Manchester City

In 2020: Brescia

Balotelli was 21 and had just scored 17 Premier League goals in the 2011/12 campaign for Man City.

But off the field problems and a questionable attitude saw him not fulfil his potential.

Now 29, Balotelli should be in his prime. He now plays for Brescia.


7. Jack Wilshere

In 2012: Arsenal

In 2020: West Ham

Oh what could have been.

Wilshere was arguably one of the best young talents England had produced in recent history, but injuries ruined his career.

He's now struggling to get a game at West Ham.

6. Lucas Moura

In 2012: Sao Paulo

In 2020: Tottenham

This prediction was a bit risky given Lucas had not yet moved to Europe.

He was a regular for Brazil though and soon after completed a move to PSG.

After six successful seasons in France, Lucas now plies his trade under Jose Mourinho at Spurs.

He's a decent player but he's someway off being the sixth best player in the world.


5. Christian Eriksen

In 2012: Ajax

In 2020: Tottenham

Eriksen burst onto the scenes as a 18-year-old at the 2010 World Cup and was one of Ajax's best players two years later.

He was always destined to move to a bigger club and he did so when he signed for Spurs in 2013.

The Danish midfielder has been one of the Premier League's best players over the past six seasons and is set to move to a bigger club either in January or the summer.

4. Thiago Alcantara

In 2012: Barcelona

In 2020: Bayern Munich

Seen as the successor to Xavi and Andres Iniesta, Thiago made the surprise decision to move to Bayern Munich in 2013.

He's since emerged into one of the best midfielders in the world and has been linked with a move back to Barca in recent years.


3. Eden Hazard

In 2012: Chelsea

In 2020: Real Madrid

Now this is a great shout. Hazard had just had a breakout season in Ligue with Lille, which earned him a £32m move to Chelsea.

And he would not disappoint as he produced seven wonderful seasons with the Blues.

Real Madrid signed him for €100 million last summer, which is actually a bit of a bargain for someone of his class.

He's not quite the third best player in the world, but he's not far off at all.

2. Mario Gotze

In 2012: Dortmund

In 2020: Dortmund

Another player who's career was blighted by fitness issues.

Gotze scored the winner in the 2014 World Cup final and looked as if he would push on to become one of the best players in the world.

But he's struggled with a metabolic disorder which has held his career back.

He returned to Dortmund in 2016 after a stint with Bayern Munich but he struggles to get in the first XI now. 


1. Neymar

In 2012: Santos

In 2020: Paris Saint-Germain

Neymar was still at Santos in 2012 but it was obvious to the world he was going to be a world beater.

Videos of him tearing up the Brazilian league as a teenager went viral and made him the most coveted youngster in the world.

Neymar decided that a move to Barcelona was his next step in 2013, where he would become one of the best players in the world.

He then went on to become the world's most expensive player when he signed for PSG in a €222 million deal in 2017.


Bleacher Report dropped a clanger in not putting Messi and Ronaldo on the list.

They also made a couple of other poor shouts, with Sakho, Wilshere and Balotelli especially being nowhere near the best 10 players in the world.

Picking Neymar as the world's best player was a good pick, mind, and predicting Hazard would be the third best player in the world was also a good shout.

We can also let them off for not picking Kylian Mbappe, who would have been 13 when the article was written...

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