Let’s take a look at players who replaced irreplaceable legends in football. So, basically, Pep lied. He lied so badly. He lied amidst tears, but he still lied. We know Sergio Aguero is perhaps Manchester City’s biggest legend ever, but he, like a few other legends of other clubs, was replaced pretty quickly, and frankly, pretty perfectly.
Here are 10 players who replaced irreplaceable legends.
1. Erling Haaland, Sergio Aguero
With the way Haaland has started life in Man City, there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that he is the perfect replacement for Aguero who left in 2021. Aguero had such a brilliant start to life in the Premier League, but Haaland has already bettered that.
Aguero took 4 years to win his first and only Premier League Golden Boot, but from the looks of things, Haaland will be winning his first Golden Boot in his very first season, and you surely cannot bet against him winning more in the coming years.
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Aguero is an absolute Man City and Premier League legend, but if Haaland goes on to spend a decade with City just like the Argentinian did, you can bet that he’ll surpass Aguero on all fronts. Maybe even give us a later title-winning goal than Aguero did in 2012.
2. Manuel Neuer – Oliver Khan
Oliver Khan was an absolute legend during his heyday. He spent 14 years at Bayern Munich and those were really successful years. He won 8 Bundesliga titles, 11 domestic cups, and one Champions League.
Even on the international stage, he was the man, winning the Euros in 1996 and the World Cup Golden Ball in 2002 after leading Germany to the final.
But all good things do come to an end, and Khan finally hung his gloves in 2008. Bayern and Germany thought they would suffer for some time in the goalkeeping department, but Neuer arose and made sure it wasn’t a long time.
He made his debut for Germany’s senior team in 2009 and was bought by Bayern in 2011. Since then, he has gone on to top everything Khan has done. Neuer has won 10 Bundesliga titles in a row, 12 domestic cups, and 2 Champions League trophies. Oh, and he completed 2 trebles and one sextuple during this time.
He also won the FIFA World Cup which Khan never won. What a way to replace a legend.
3. Karim Benzema – Cristiano Ronaldo
This one is pretty interesting because Benzema had always been there while Ronaldo was doing his thing at Madrid. In fact, they both joined Madrid in the same window. But the Frenchman was very okay playing second-in-command to Ronaldo while the Portuguese conquered the world.
But after CR7 left in 2018, Benzema stepped up and boy did he step up so good! He is already in his mid-30s, but he’s proving to Madrid that they never had to go to the market to find a replacement for Ronaldo.
Benzema just led Madrid to a European double, finishing as top scorer in both the Champions League and La Liga in the process. Now, he’s going to get his first ever Ballon d’Or for his valiant efforts last season.
It would appear that, sometimes, the replacement has been right there the entire time.
4. Rio Ferdinand – Jaap Stam
If you’re too young, you may not remember the big shoes Rio Ferdinand had to fill when he joined Man United from Leeds in 2002. Stam had just left after spending just 3 years at United, but the solidity he provided for the English giants in those few years was insane.
He helped Man United 3-peat the Premier League and also complete a European treble during that time.
He was sold to Lazio for 16 million pounds in 2001 after coming out from an injury, and 6 years later, Ferguson himself publicly admitted that selling Stam was a mistake.
But a mistake he didn’t get to regret so much as Ferdinand was signed the year after Stam left, and he went on to help United win 6 Premier League titles and 1 Champions League, and stamp his place as a Premier League legend.
5. Diego Costa – Didier Drogba
Till date, Drogba is still Chelsea’s greatest ever striker. He was there when the club had nothing and helped the club win everything before he left in 2012. Chelsea have not had much luck with replacing the Ivorian legend, to be honest.
Morata, Falcao, Higuain, and Lukaku; all top strikers elsewhere but were not able to fill Drogba’s boots in Chelsea. But one man did a pretty good job – Diego Costa.
He joined Chelsea in 2014, spent 3 years in London, and won 3 trophies while he was there. The fans absolutely loved the Brazilian, but a falling out with the coach meant that he had to leave prematurely in 2017.
Perhaps if he stayed a few more years, he would have equaled Drogba’s legacy at Chelsea.
6. Gianluigi Donnarumma – Gianluigi Buffon
First of all, they have the same first name, so it felt like a natural succession. When Buffon was hanging his gloves for Italy in 2018, Donnarumma was right there to pick them up, and boy has he been an excellent replacement!
At just 22, he saved 2 penalties at the Euro final to help Italy win the Euros for the first time in 53 years. He was also named the Player of the Tournament.
Buffon never won the Euros but he won the World Cup. And who says Donnarumma cannot still go on to also win the World Cup and completely trump Buffon’s legacy?
7. Joshua Kimmich – Phillip Lahm
Lahm was such a faithful servant of Bayern Munich, coming up from their academy and going on to represent them at the senior level for 15 years. He is regarded as one of the greatest full backs and most versatile players of all time, so you can understand why many thought it would take years to find a replacement for him at both club and international level.
But then, boom! Kimmich burst onto the scene and he has seemed like the perfect replacement ever since. Kimmich is not only solid, he is also really versatile and has proven to be a good leader just like Lahm was during his playing days.
Also, just like Lahm, Kimmich has helped Bayern complete a European treble. If the 27-year-old can go on to help Germany win the World Cup, then he will have successfully outdone the legend.
8. Luis Suárez – Fernando Torres
Fernando Torres was really brilliant for Liverpool. He scored goals for fun and was so loved by the fans. But then, shockingly, he decided to leave for Chelsea in January of 2011. That was a big loss for the Reds, but they wasted no time to find a replacement, signing Luis Suarez the exact same day Torres signed for Chelsea.
Suarez would go on to outdo Torres’ legacy at the club, helping Liverpool win a trophy and winning many individual awards of his own. He won the Premier League Player of the Season, PFA Players’ Player of the Season, FWA Footballer of the Year, Premier League Golden Boot, and European Golden Shoe awards all during a 3-year stint at Liverpool. Torres was never able to manage any of that in 3 and a half years.
9. David de Gea – Edwin van der Sar
Many might argue this, but we believe that de Gea has toppled van der Sar’s legacy at United. The Spaniard was the perfect replacement for the legendary Dutchman.
Van der Sar won 11 trophies in 6 years at United including a Champions League title. He also won the Premier League Golden Glove once and was named in the PFA Team of the Year 3 times.
De Gea, on the other hand, has helped United win 7 titles including a European trophy. He has also won the Premier League Golden Glove, been named in the PFA Team of the Year 5 times, FIFA FIFPro World 11 once, and has won the Man United Player of the Year award 4 times.
We’re sure United fans would readily take him back today
10. Marcelo – Roberto Carlos
Roberto Carlos is regarded as one of the greatest left-backs in football history, and looking at his storied career, you surely can understand why. He helped Real Madrid win 13 trophies, including 3 Champions League and 4 La Liga titles during his 11 years there. He also won the World Cup and 2 Copa America titles with Brazil.
He was so good that he finished second in the Ballon d’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year rankings in different years.
Madrid thought they would never be able to replace the legendary left-back, but as he was leaving the Spanish giants in 2007, Marcelo was joining that same year.
Marcelo would then go on to spend 15 years at the club, helping them win 25 trophies, including 5 Champions League and 6 La Liga titles. He was also named in FIFA FIF Pro’s World XI 6 different times.
Marcelo never quite outdid Carlos’ legacy in Brazil as he did in Madrid, but allround, you just have to say that Madrid and Brazil could have never asked for a better replacement.
Is there anyone we left out of this list? Someone whom you think was just the perfect replacement for an outgoing legend.
Let us know in the comments