SOCCER - A.Klagenfurt vs Southampton, test match KLAGENFURT,AUSTRIA,18.JUL.22 - SOCCER - ADMIRAL Bundesliga, Premier League, SK Austria Klagenfurt vs FC Southampton, test match. Image shows a ball. PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxAUTxSUIxSWE GEPAxpictures/xFlorianxMori

In an era where player performances eventually get downplayed, as two men always steal the spotlight, it’s hard for players to make their own “legacy”.

Luka Modric broke the Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo duopoly that lasted a decade but the Argentine and the Portuguese are among the candidates again to win it this year.

They’ll be eager to win it back and that possibility shouldn’t be ruled out.

However, at best both players have no more than two seasons to go and age is already telling on their side.

But what does the future look like for football?

Is there a standout player that can dominate headlines and awards like they’ve done?

Yes, perhaps so.

17 Premier League goals to his name last season, three in one game already this term – Raheem Sterling looks all set for another brilliant campaign.

The Manchester City forward had a “perfect” campaign in 2018-19.

He was named the Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year, the PFA Young Player of the Year, made it into the PFA Team of the Year as his goals helped his team win the Premier League for the second successive year in a treble-winning season.

On the international scene, he has also developed into a key player for Gareth Southgate’s England, has been lauded as “special” by his club manager Pep Guardiola and, at 24, his best years are still ahead of him.

Sterling scored 25 goals in all competitions last season – his highest in a single campaign – and he picked up from where he left off by bagging a hat-trick in City’s 5-0 season-opening win at West Ham on Saturday.

Put into comparison, at 24 years, he has played a remarkably similar amount of football to Messi when the Argentina international was the same age.

The difference between the amount of assists each player had provided at that stage of their career is not vast – 90 for Messi compared to 68 for Sterling – but it is Messi’s goalscoring prowess that sets him apart.

While 25 was a career-high for Sterling, Messi’s lowest total in the past 11 seasons is 38.

For Sterling to exist in such elevated company as Messi and Ronaldo, his numbers will need to improve significantly.

A lot of players touted to be heir apparent to the Ballon d’Or throne don’t seem to have it going as planned.

Gareth Bale has been a shadow of his former self and his future is still clouded with uncertainty.

Eden Hazard is in a transitional Madrid squad and may naturally have to go out of his way to be a “team player” rather than an ambitious one.

As for Neymar, the Brazilian is up there with one of the most controversial players in world football at the moment.

Which leaves Raheem Sterling as the only candidate that ticks all boxes.

Playing in a balanced squad and under the guidance of the best manager in the world (arguably), the Englishman can only improve his game and watch his tally double up with time.

A new era could be upon us – an era where Raheem Sterling is king.