The Lionel Messi-lites of Euro 2016 are ready to entertain you

Everyone is a new version of someone else. Ryan Giggs was the new George Best when he made his Manchester United debut in 1991 and he played on the opposite flank to the previous season's new George Best, Lee Sharpe. Ever since 1994, any Romanian child who can do more than five keepie-ups has been dubbed the new Gheorghe Hagi. But as globalisation accelerates and the world becomes ever more inter-linked, the need for local or national icons has slackened off. Now everyone wants to be the new Lionel Messi.

It doesn't take much for the comparison to be made. Anyone under 5-foot-9 with a turn of pace could fit the bill. Just take a look at this summer's European Championship. They are everywhere, these "Messi-lites." We're tripping over them.


German newspaper Der Spiegel was so impressed with Wes Hoolahan that they dubbed him "The Irish Messi" after their 1-0 victory over Italy. This is a textbook example of the genre. He's only 5-foot-6, a fabulous starting point. He loves a trick, he loves to run at defenders and he isn't afraid to have a shot from range. He's been with the same club, Norwich City, for years. Admittedly, he is 34 years old and frustratingly inconsistent, but let's not be too fussy. He ticks most of the boxes.

Messi Rating: 3/5


Is Xherdan Shaqiri the Alpine Messi? Let's examine the evidence. He's short. He can nutmeg people. He's capable of scoring astonishing goals. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a contender. There are a few issues, of course. You don't want to use the word "stocky" but Shaqiri does look a bit like someone's pulled a Swiss shirt over an anvil. But we can look past that one for one simple reason: Unlike Messi, we know for a fact that Shaqiri can do it on a wet night in Stoke. Your move, Lio.

Messi Rating: 3/5


A fleet-footed midfielder with vision and poise? We've seen that somewhere before. Say hello to the Hungarian Messi, Laszlo Kleinheisler, star of the shock 2-0 victory over Austria. Watch in awe as he takes one clever touch to evade his pursuers and find space. Gasp as his second touch cuts the defence in two. Shake your head sadly when you discover that he's already been snapped up by Werder Bremen for just £300,000.

Messi Rating: 2/5


The Ukrainian Messi could be hooking up with Pep Guardiola before too long. Oleksandr Zinchenko has been on Manchester City's radar for some time and his performance against Poland told you why. He's small, has a fine range of passing and was just about the only man on his team with any kind of imagination. He rarely looked for the easy pass, always trying to split the defence or put them under pressure himself. Russian side Ufa may be cashing out sooner rather than later.

Messi Rating: 2/5


You don't get many breakout stars in the internet era but Bartosz Kapustka is a rare exception. He was on the verge of a £400,000 move to Standard Liege three months ago but is worth a lot more than that now. Just watch those flicks and tricks. He's not scared of anyone and he has the confidence to try the spectacular, even at such a young age of 19. That reminds us of someone ...

Messi Rating: 2/5


Whisper it, but Cristiano Ronaldo certainly has what it takes to be the Portuguese Messi. I mean, he's twice the size and has more muscle mass in one arm than Messi has on his entire body, but that goal against Hungary, the impetuous flick that few others would even try in training... that was Messi class. You don't want to pile pressure on players too young but surely Ronaldo would be pleased with the comparison?

Messi Rating: 5/5


The Welsh have their own version of Ronaldo: though Gareth Bale smiles more and is really good at free kicks, so it's possibly more of a Ronaldo V1.1 than a Ronaldo-lite. But what about Joe Allen in midfield? He's short enough to fit the bill, he's got the scruffy haircut and beard combo. And he's been very impressive this summer, with his deft passing and clever movement. So impressive, in fact, that you wonder why Liverpool seem to be ready to sell him.

Messi Rating: 1/5


Haha! An English Messi?! Haha! Oh dear. Oh, I needed to laugh like that. Oh dear. No, Jack Wilshere doesn't count.

Messi Rating: 0/5