The beauty of sport is that the next generation is always ready to break through to replace – and even upstage – the current one. We see stars such as Lebron James and Lionel Messi now, and think we will never see their like again. But, of course, we would have said that with the previous generation; for instance, Michael Jordan and Zinedine Zidane. Before that, Magic Johnson and Diego Maradona.
The point is a new cycle of greats is always ready to come along, and, in light of that, we have picked four who could become household names over the next decade or so. For a bit of context, we’ll add some betting odds for them or their teams to succeed in the near future. You never know with sports, of course, but these guys have shown something to suggest they could be among the best.
Matthijs De Ligt – Soccer
So highly-rated is the Ajax Amsterdam centre-back, the Dutch giants made him the youngest club captain in its history. That happened when he was 18, and a year later the young captain has led his team into the Champions League semi-finals against Juventus, scoring the winner in a sensational performance. De Ligt’s heroics have seen his team’s odds cut from rank outsiders to 9/2 (Bet365) to win the Champions League. Ajax’s young side have become the darlings of European soccer, and De Ligt is ready to lead them to a new period of glory.
Rafael Devers – Baseball
There are a lot of baseball players ranked higher than Devers in various MLB lists of young stars. However, Devers was hitting his first home run for the Red Sox while the majority of his peers were still in college. Oh, and he already has a World Series ring after winning it all with the Sox last November. There is a rawness about 22-year-old that one feels could lead to either stardom or obscurity, with no middle ground. Unlike Ajax above, the Red Sox are in all sorts of difficulties this season and have been pushed out to 12/1 (Betfred) to retain their title. They may finally need Devers to break out and show his worth if the team his are to bounce back quickly.
Xander Schauffele – Golf
At 25-years-old, Schauffele is by a distance the oldest on this list, but he has his whole career ahead of him in golf. The American’s second-place finish in the Masters got overshadowed by Tiger Woods, but the fearless Schauffele really could be the next big thing in golf. He now stands at odds of 28/1 (Bet365) to win golf’s next Major, the US Open, and looks the perfect sort of a character to use a no deposit free bet offer on as a shot to nothing. Masters champion Woods is the favourite at 8/1.
Alexander Zverev – Tennis
For a variety of reasons, the era of tennis’ Big 4 – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray – has drawn to a close. While it was among the greatest periods of tennis, it was also frustrating that nobody has been able to break through to challenge them in a sustained manner over the last decade. Step forward Alexander Zverev. The 21-year-old German is now world number three, ahead of Roger Federer, and could become the face of the sport in the 2020s. 12/1 (William Hill) has been cited for his first Grand Slam at Wimbledon in July. It’s only a matter of time.