Time was when any young exceptional talent breaking through into the professional game was immediately saddled with an impossible yardstick to measure up to.

Barely had the raw, precocious pup made his nerve-shredding first team debut, at an age when his contemporaries were still in school and cheekily asking strangers to buy booze at the offy for them, before the press – aware of the hype and expectation for the lad behind the scenes at the club – were publicly labelling him ‘the next Bobby Moore’ (if he was an English centre-back with any degree of composure on the ball), ‘the next ‘George Best’ (if the player was British and skilful), or even ‘the next Pele’ (exceptional circumstances only).

This was unjust enough when consigned to print. Worse yet was when the camera-shy boy was openly asked to comment on the far-fetched analogy and would be forced to mutter a line (or variation of) that is now considered a cliché – ‘It’s an honour to even be mentioned in the same breath as such a legend. If I can achieve half of what….’

Thankfully this trend seems to have abated somewhat in recent times, possibly due to each club learning to protect their teenage prodigies far better rather than the press growing a moral conscience.

The last occasion we recall of such an outlandish comparison being unfairly burdened upon callow shoulders was Rooney being branded, in some quarters at least, the ‘White Pele’. This was at least done with tongue slightly planted in cheek, with the savvy knowledge of how ridiculous such a claim was.

The last time it was said with any true conviction was way back in the 1990s with the emergence of Keith Gillespie at Old Trafford drawing early comparisons to the peerless Georgie Best. But again there are mitigating circumstances at play – Gillespie shared so many things in common with the legendary booze-hound such as originating from Belfast, having the same skinny frame, dark locks and brooding eyebrows and, of course, playing wide on the wing for United, that linking the two was inevitable, if still grossly incongruous in terms of ability.

Nowadays, for sincerely stupid hyperbole lavished upon a promising youth, you have to look to South America who seemingly are producing a ‘new Maradona’ (if the kid is extra special) or ‘the next Messi’ (because he recently successfully nut-megged an opponent) every other week.

So now that we’ve established how implausible, daft and unfair such comparisons are…the Cutter thought we’d do some of our own!

Concentrating on British-based talent some of which are already beginning to make their mark in the game, whilst others have yet to but surely will.

It is safe to say however that few, if any, will come close to matching their better-known counterpart. It would be an honour just to be mentioned in the same breath in fact.

The next Daniel Alves – Kyle Walker (Spurs. Currently on loan at Aston Villa)

Rampaging runs down the right often followed by a clinical finish, Walker has an extraordinary engine that allows him to defend and attack with equal proficiency throughout the ninety minutes. As comfortable in possession as the trickiest of wingers yet solid, tenacious and dependable when not. His speed and stamina means he can be prominent down the entire right flank whilst also drifting inside to influence the play, yet never seems to be caught out of position.

The next Robbie Fowler – Robert Hall (West Ham) – An immense prospect who has established himself in the England Under-17s line-up despite being significantly younger than the rest of the fine crop of forwards coming through into the professional ranks. A left-footed goal-poacher with pace to burn.

The next Jairzinho – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Southampton) – A truly outstanding young talent who has burst into the spotlight this season not just due to his dazzling displays on the South Coast but through the acre of news stories linking him to Arsenal, Chelsea and Man U. A big name (literally) for the near-future.

Son of ex-Stoke flyer Mark. Grandson of former PM Neville. No, not really.

The next Patrick Vieira – Paul Pogba (Manchester United) – A powerful and dynamic French youngster not averse to screaming in the odd wonder-goal from distance. There’s been so much speculation on who will be coming in next summer to replace the aging United midfield axis. Ferguson might yet surprise us all by again putting his faith in the kids (local lad Ravel Morrison is another midfield gem waiting for his big chance).

The next Franz Beckenbauer – Jack Rodwell (Everton) – Classy and imposing and equally adept in midfield or defence. The Scouse Kaiser.

The next Bruno Conti – Luke Williams (Middlesborough) – The Italian great was comfortable with both feet, had searing pace, and loved nothing more than to take on full-backs just for the hell of it. All these attributes are shared by this 17 year old Teesider. Currently side-lined by a serious ankle injury. When – and we really hope it’s a case of when and not if – the lad makes a full recovery he has a huge future ahead of him.

The next Marco Van Basten – Connor Wickham (Ipswich) – At this point it may be pertinent to remind all that this is a list of purposely silly comparisons, based solely on the similarity of playing style and posture. Van Basten was a bona fide genius. At this moment in time Wickham is a spotty kid from Suffolk who is very good at football.

Yet he shares the same unusual combination of height and natural élan as the Dutch master. His stylish forward play is a wonderful and rare thing in one so young and he possesses the bustling strength of a traditional number 9 with the cultured, innate gifts bestowed upon one player per generation. After only 57 professional outings he is already considered to be England’s best hope for future silverware.

Marco Van Wickham

The next Colin Bell – Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal) – Bell, in many people’s eyes was the complete midfielder. A classy creative force with a graceful stride and the ability to make every aspect of the game appear effortless. Tragically his career was curtailed in its prime by injury. Following his horror break at Stoke – and subsequent recovery – we hope that the young Welshman has moved past that unfortunate similarity and can resume his progress as a superb prospect in the modern game.

The next Johnny Giles – Jack Wilshire (Arsenal) – The initial temptation was to plump for Michel Platini here. Both are slight of build and blessed with an exquisite range of passing. They drive forward in similar fashion too. But with Wiltshire there is a fair amount of grit in the pearl. He can mix it far better than the stylish Frenchman and for that reason he is being compared here to the more multifaceted Giles.

Giles was a key member in the so-called ‘dirty’ Leeds team of the 1970s yet oozed guile and vision. At the tender age of 19 Wilshire is already showing he has all the attributes required to become one of the very best around.