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Six Players Dubbed The 'New Maradona' & One Deemed Better

Daryl Bolger
By Daryl Bolger
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With the announcement of Juan Riquelme's retirement, the man once heralded as 'The New Maradona', we take a look at other players who have previously been given the moniker, for better or for worse, as well as one deemed to be better than the man himself.

Juan Roman Riquelme

Perhaps best remembered here for his spell with Villarreal when the team, in its first ever spell in the Champions League, famously went through the group stages at the expense of Manchester United. Two years later Riquelme went on to have his penalty saved by Jens Lehmann in the semi-finals, with Arsenal progressing to the final.

Riquelme however has spent large parts of his career with Boca Juniors, out of site from Irish viewers, spending 14 seasons there in total. Adored by the club's supporters he is in the top 10 for both goals and appearances for Boca with 87 and 370 respectively.

In an era where players of his quality spend the majority of their career in Europe, Riquelme is an all too rare exception.

Javier Saviola

Saviola was first burdened with the expectations of emulating Maradona at a young age, with even FIFA placing the tag on his shoulders.


It started well, he notched 45 goals in 86 matches for River Plate, being named South American Player of The Year aged just 18 in the process.

A move to Barcelona was his reward, where he scored an impressive 20 goals per season over three years. Loans to Monaco and Sevilla followed before a move to Real Madrid, where he managed just five goals over two seasons. Benfica, Olympiacos and Malaga were further stopping points on his way to current club Hellas Verona, where he scored his first goal this weekend, scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win over Atalanta.

Carlos Tevez

Well respected South American football expert Tim Vickery was amongst many to declare Tevez the new Maradona. He was given the tag while still playing for Boca Juniors, a club for whom he managed a goal every three games.


An unusual intra-South American big-money move followed, with Corinthians shelling out some $22m for the player. Famously however, his rights were retained by third parties. This was enough to put off most Premier League clubs after he refused to play for Corinthians, but not West Ham, whom he joined with Javier Mascherano in one of the most bizarre Premier League moves in history.

His time in England was as well documented as it was controversial, with West Ham being sued as a Tevez goal kept the club up at the expense of Sheffield United, despite rules against Third-Party ownership. An audacious move between the red and blue of Manchester followed before a transfer to current club Juventus.

Mauro Zarate

While the myth persists that Zarate was widely deemed the new Maradona, there is scant evidence this ever went beyond Birmingham fans and the BBC's Caroline Cheese, whose tongue was firmly in cheek.


While never entering the top level of professionals, Zarate has had a respectable career with productives spells at Lazio and at home at Velez Sarsfield before returning to Europe with West Ham.

Lionel Messi

Maradona himself annointed Messi his successor when he was just 18.

His judgment has proven correct with many now arguing that Messi is better than Maradona was, his career and achievements to date speak for themselves. That may be besides the point however, Maradona is adored in Argentina for his captaincy during their 1986 World Cip Victory, as well as for helping them to the final four years later.


Messi has yet to match this achievement, albeit being a losing finalist last year, if he is ever to achieve it the tag of 'New Maradona' will surely be widely replaced by 'New Messi'.

I have seen the player who will inherit my place in Argentine football and his name is Messi.

Messi is a genius.

- Maradona

Ezequiel Lavezzi

Playing for Napoli, it was always inevitable Lavezzi would have the moniker placed on him.

An early 5-0 win in which he scored his first goal, was Napoli's largest win since Maradona himself played for the club. He went on to spend five seasons at the club, never notching double digits for league goals in any season, however he managed a goal or an assist every other game and was a key player for the club for the duration of his stay.

A €30m move to PSG followed where he has won two league trophies and remains active in this season's Champions League.

Larry Reilly

The former Cavan player is the only non-Argentine on our list as well as the only non-soccer player. Not content with saying he was comparable to Maradona it is argued he was better. Reasons included;

*Maradona may have used the hand of God to beat England, but only Larry could get away with hoping the ball twice and scoring the equalising point in an Ulster final.

*Maradona would run the length of the field, go around every opposition player including the goalkeeper and tap it into the empty net, Larry just runs to the corner and scores from there.

*Maradona played in some of the biggest and finest stadiums in the world, but you'd never see him scoring 1-8 against Killagarry on a winter's evening.

*There'd be no point in ringing Maradona if you had a pipe leaking.

See Also: This Video Of A (Slightly) Youthful Maradona Playing Futsal Is Really Dazzling
See Also: Video: Footage Surfaces Of A Maradona Led Argentina Playing In Dublin In 1980

Picture credits: Sportsfile


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