• A Spanish attacking midfielder has been playing like Lionel Messi
  • Spanish midfielder is right-footed but can pass the ball with his left foot like Messi
  • A 19-year-old goalscorer also draws comparisons with Messi

A former Liverpool prospect is playing like Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi but hasn’t reached stardom yet.

After a decade of greatness, many are convinced that Messi is the best to ever play the game. Though the Argentine is still magnificent on the pitch, the new generation seems to be ready to take over soon. However, being the world’s greatest is still a big shoe to fill and it could even take years of consistent dominance before someone finally dethrone Messi. And while it is still a long shot for these youngsters to become the next Messi, some of them already present a strong case.

Luis Alberto, a former prospect of Liverpool who now plays as an attacking midfielder for Italian club S.S. Lazio, has managed to display same qualities as Messi over the past three seasons. However, the 27-year-old has been tagged "most underrated player in the world" by some sports experts because of the fact that he evidently wasn’t as charismatic as the Barcelona star.

But Alberto is now starting to draw interest and capture the attention of some of the biggest sports network around the world. In fact, ESPN’s Ryan O’Hanlon just revealed how fascinating Alberto has been playing lately. According to O’Hanlon, Alberto has been “breaking down opposing defenses in Lionel Messi -esque fashion, slipping past hapless opponents into the attacking third, sliding passes into space for his teammates, or putting the ball into the back of the net all by himself.”

Since the beginning of the 2017-18 season, Alberto has been one of only six players in Europe's Big Five leagues who have recorded at least 30 assists. The other five are Messi, Thomas Muller, Kevin De Bruyne, Alejandro Gomez, Jadon Sancho .

The Spanish winger also got 26.25 expected assists since 17-18, only behind Messi, De Bruyne, Muller, Gomez, Dimitri Payet and Angel Di Maria. Among players who have played at least 900 minutes, Alberto is also one of the only four players who have averaged at least 0.4 assists, 4.5 passes into the penalty area, and 20 passes into the final-third per 90 minutes: Messi, Neymar, De Bruyne.

Lionel Messi almost scored a breathtaking goal but Barcelona were held to a frustrating draw by Slavia Prague
Lionel Messi AFP / LLUIS GENE

And though he's natural right-footed player, Alberto tends to play his passes into the penalty area from the left edge of the penalty area and beyond, just like Messi.

Another youngster who has earned comparisons from Messi is Borussia Dortmund ’s Erling Braut Haaland, a 19-year-old Norwegian who has been viewed by many as a future Messi.