Teenager Carlos Marinelli was touted as the new Maradona when he joined Middlesbrough FC in 2000
Ever since Diego Maradona retired from the game, football fans from Argentina and across the world have been hoping that Argentina will produce another iconic player like el 10. Consequently whenever a young Argentine who plays in an attacking role begins to show a lot of talent he is soon labeled as the "new Maradona". It must be flattering for the youngster to be compared to a generation defining player like Maradona, but it seems the burden of expectation has crushed a few "new Maradonas" and a few more new Maradonas must have only been labeled as such by their agents hoping for a lucrative transfer to a gullible European club.
The first player to be dubbed the new Maradona was Diego Latorre, who never came close to emulating Maradona's achievements, making only 6 appearances for the Argentina national team, the closest he ever came to Maradona was playing alongside the great man during Maradona's final few seasons at Boca Juniors between 1996 and 1997.
The first time I heard the new Maradona tag used was during the 1998 World Cup when Ariel Ortega took the role of Argentina's most creative attacking player. Argentina underperformed and it seemed that Ortega took the brunt of the criticism simply for not being as good as Maradona. He has however had a successful career and notably captained Newell's Old Boys to a league championship, something Maradona failed to do during his stint with the Rosario club.
Some of the comparisons with Maradona are utterly laughable with hindsight, or even just with sight in the case of Carlos Marinelli, who was touted as the new Maradona when he joined Premier League side Middlesbrough FC for £1.5m in 2000. He was an utter flop and since being offloaded by the Boro he has plied his trade for Torino FC in the Italian 2nd division, Kansas City Wizards of the MLS and Argentine 2nd division side Aldosivi.
In recent years Lionel Messi has become the most obvious "new Maradona", this time the comparisons are a little less insanely optimistic, since Messi is widely acknowledged as the best player in the world and scored a remarkably similar goal to Maradona's famous "goal of the Century" against England in 1986.
More recently promising young players like Matías De Federico have been ludicrously described as the new Messi, even though Messi at 23 years old is only 2 years older than De Federico. Messi seems to have the bulk of his greatest footballing achievements still ahead of him so comparisons at this stage seem more than premature. If De Federico turns out to be the "new new Maradona", then we can only wait and wonder at who the "new new new Maradona" will be.
List of "new Maradonas"