What happened to the 5 players Lionel Messi once named the best in the world

Lionel Messi is widely regarded the best player in the world.

The Argentine has won the Ballon d'Or six times since 2009, and Cristiano Ronaldo is the only player to come close to him in the last decade.

But there are a number of world-class players ready to take Messi's crown, and in 2019 the Barcelona legend named five superstars he believed to be nipping at the heels of himself and Ronaldo.

Discussing the world's best players, Messi told Marca: "It was nice to have Cristiano Ronaldo in La Liga because of the prestige he gave it, although it was hard to see him lift titles.

"[But] excluding him and me, the best players in the world are [Kylian] Mbappe, Neymar, [Eden] Hazard, [Luis] Suarez and Kun [Sergio Aguero]."

Three on the list are players Messi has played with at some point.

Neymar won the Champions League alongside Messi at Barcelona before completing a world-record £189million transfer to Paris Saint-Germain.

The Brazilian is still widely-regarded a world-class operator, but his stock has fallen somewhat since the switch.

PSG have won Ligue 1 in every season Neymar has been at the club, but the French giants have not come close to Champions League success.

What's more, Neymar was left of the shortlist for the Ballon d'Or last season.

Neymar's team-mate at Paris Saint-Germain, Mbappe, also made Messi's top five list, but his career has gone in a different direction since being name-dropped by the Argentine.

Mbappe is fast becoming the world's best player, now that Messi and Ronaldo's careers are winding down.

And the Frenchman has been linked with a big-money move to Liverpool in recent months, while Real Madrid have continued to monitor his progress.

Mbappe recently said of Jurgen Klopp's side in an interview with the BBC: "What Liverpool do in this moment is amazing.

"They're like a machine, they've found a rhythm and are like 'We play again, we play again'. They've lost zero games.

"When you watch you think everything is easy but that's not easy. The guys are focused, they play games every three days and they win, they win, they win.

"Now the problem is that everybody watches Liverpool, and everybody watches what we can do against them, so now they have to show they are strong again but it's a very good team with a very good manager."

Messi has played alongside Suarez at Barcelona since he joined the Spanish club from Liverpool in 2014, where he has gone from strength to strength.

These days the Uruguayan is 33 years old, and like Messi, is reaching the twilight of his career at the top level. But there is no disputing he is world-class on his day.

Manchester City forward Aguero is another player Messi has shared a pitch with, but for the Argentina national team.

Aguero joined the Citizens from Atletico Madrid in 2011 and has arguably been the club's most consistent player in this time.

He won the Premier League Golden Boot award in 2015 and was responsible for the most iconic goal in English top-flight history.

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