Which young superstar will fill Golden Balls’ recently vacated-and-heavily branded boots?
Poor David Beckham: last week, in his retirement-announcing interview he confessed he was saddened by the fact his playing career has been “overshadowed” by his numerous off-pitch activities. Yes, he won four league titles in four countries and amassed a record number of caps. But there is little doubt that his legacy – or more accurately, his and his wife’s legacy – will be the idea of the footballer as bigger-than-Big-Mac megabrand, shifting millions of bottles of signature scent, hanging out with US superstars who couldn’t explain the offside rule with a gun to their head and doubling OK! and Hello!’s sales in the blink of an eye. Given that the market abhors a vacuum, we looked for the next generation of players who might just have what it takes to fill their own signature boots and a skyscraper-sized billboard…
Joining Beckham’s boyhood club Manchester United this summer, the 20-year-old, who turned up to his medical wearing a T-shirt of a scantily clad model bearing a striking similarity to Wag Imogen Thomas, is no stranger to bizarre fashion choices himself. Sarong companies, watch this space.
An academy starlet at Manchester City since the age of 16, this Swede – tipped by former coach Ronald Koeman to be as good as compatriot Zlatan Ibrahimovic – has already had a taste of Hollywood. Well, that’s if reports that he dated actress Mischa Barton are to be believed.
Another talent churned out of Southampton’s academy production line, Shaw has been talked about in the same vein as Gareth Bale. But more importantly, his neat side-partings make the 17-year-old an ideal candidate to be the next English ambassador of dandyism. All he needs is the help of an ambitious (and tone deaf) Little Mixer.
While he clearly inherited some of father’s Gus’s playing ability, this 17-year-old midfielder – an England U16 player currently at Charlton and watched by Arsenal – can be lucky he didn’t inherit his old man’s furrowed looks. Instead, he appears comfortably Derek Zoolander-esque on his club profile shot. Expect more Blue Steel to come.