Former Manchester United striker Dimitar Berbatov says the day Cristiano Ronaldo retires will be “one of the saddest days in world football”.
But he has named Red Devils wonderkid Mason Greenwood in the same bracket as Neymar and Kylian Mbappe as one of those in line to replicate the Portuguese superstar in the next generation.
Ronaldo and Barcelona rival Lionel Messi have been the dominant duo in the game for over a decade but are both entering the latter stages of their careers.
And Berbatov believes Greenwood, 18, could be capable of reaching the same highs they have as his career develops after his stunning breakthrough campaign at Old Trafford.
Berbatov told Betfair: “It will be one of the saddest days in world football when Ronaldo finishes playing, even those who dislike him will appreciate him.
“The day will come, but hopefully not for some time yet. When he's finished, other players will come, even Pele and Maradona were eventually replaced- life is a circle.
“We have Neymar, Mbappe, Greenwood, and other young players that can hopefully reach the highs of Ronaldo and Messi, as unbelievable as that may seem.”
The Bulgarian striker also sees shades of his former team-mate Ronaldo as he watches young talent Greenwood.
But he insists he should still be given time and patience to hit the highest level without being labelled the next Ronaldo or Messi.
He added: "Mason Greenwood has really impressed me, even before his last game, he always gets his shots on target, and he has two good feet, not just his left.
“It's good to see he's being given a chance to shine and play regularly, and he's taking that chance. He's well on the way to being a really good player, what he's shown is unbelievable.
“He reminds me of Ronaldo at that age, especially with his self-belief and confidence to take players on. They also share quickness and sharpness, he's in a great position for his age, and as I said, he's embraced the opportunity.
“He's proving he can be a brilliant player not just now, but also in the future. If he continues on his current path, he'll be one of the best players in the world.
“He's still a long way from being as good as Ronaldo I have to add, he has a long way to go, but at the moment he's doing it the right way and he's in the best environment possible.
“He's surrounded by a great manager, experienced players, and great people, all of whom will help him take the next steps.
“These days we rush too quickly to say a player is the next Maradona, Pele, Messi or Ronaldo, we should let him find his feet.”
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