By Spain correspondent Miguel de Souza
Memphis Depay is the surprise name in Cristiano Ronaldo’s choice of the top five young players in the world.
The Manchester United winger has had a tough baptism to Premier League life following his £25million move from PSV Eindhoven in the summer and was dropped from the Holland squad earlier this week.
However, Ronaldo is convinced of Depay’s potential, naming him alongside more established stars Eden Hazard, Neymar and Paul Pogba, as well as 16-year-old Real Madrid Martin Odegaard as the best youthful quintet in the world.
All five, bar Odegaard, justified Ronaldo’s praise last season by excelling for their respective European clubs in trophy-laden campaigns. By contrast, the Norwegian teenager has made only a single appearance for the senior Real team.
Speaking to BT Sport, Ronaldo believes the future looks rosy for all five contemporaries.
“You see many players with potential, I will mention Odegaard of Madrid for example, at 16 he’s still young but you can see he’s a very good player,” the Portugese said.
“Hazard for example, the No7 of Manchester Depay is a good player too, Pogba and maybe Neymar.”
Ronaldo was speaking ahead of the release of the biopic Ronaldo next Monday, in which viewers will be given insight into the 30-year-old’s life.
In January, Real’s No 7 was won his third Ballon d’Or, and his second in a row, leaving him just one behind long-standing Lionel Messi.
The duo have been widely regarded as the best two players in the world over the last seven years, and Ronaldo admits the high level of Barcelona’s No 10 is a motivational tool.
“I’m always disappointed when I lose [the Ballon d’Or], it’s normal, I’m not a fake person, I’m not going to hide it when I feel disappointed,” the Portugal captain explained.
“But it doesn’t depend on me, winning the Golden Ball, it depends on votes. But I’m not complaining because I’ve won three times, I never thought I would win one Golden Ball, so to win three is great, gives me great motivation to work hard and achieve more.
“I want more and more, I still have many years to play football, and I want to win more things. I’m always motivated, I don’t need other players to motivate myself.
“Messi is an unbelievable player, and maybe it pushes me more, harder to be better and better. But the people who know me, know I’m always like that, I try to be the best professional in my job, I try to be the best all the time. But sometimes it’s not possible because we are human beings, we are not machines.
“But in my mind I’m the best and I work like the best. This is the way I see my life till the end of my life, this is what I want and what I want to be.”