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EXCLUSIVE: Lionel Messi selects the ten players for his Backed By Messi campaign

It doesn’t get much bigger than being co-signed by the world’s best footballer.

Sorry Cristiano but we are, of course, talking about Lionel Messi.

The Argentinian has handpicked ten young footballers for adidas’ Backed By Messi campaign who will all be given the honour of wearing his adidas boot silo this season.

But who are the chosen ones?

1 Patrick Roberts (England & Man City)

Roberts possesses a wand of a left foot and electric dribbling ability. Sound familiar?

City were convinced enough of his talents to sign him from Fulham before sending him out on loan to Celtic, where he has quickly become a crowd favourite.

Pep Guardiola will be itching to get him back to Manchester and start moulding him into a City first-team regular. The sooner the better for England.

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2 Jean-Kevin Augustin (France & PSG)

Breaking into PSG’s star-studded attacking roster shows just how good Augustin is.

The striker has already won five domestic trophies in Paris and played a leading role in France Under-19’s European Championship triumph in the summer.

He’s already off the mark this season, scoring on the opening day win against Caen, with plenty more expected from the 19-year-old.

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3 Gabriel Boschilia (Brazil & Monaco)

As a Brazilian attacking midfielder coming out of Sao Paulo’s academy you’re always going to be compared to Kaka.

But in truth Boschilia is a different type of midfielder. He’s diminutive and explosive, qualities that impressed Monaco sufficiently to bring him to France.

He’s since been loaned to Standard Liege in Belgium where he has hit the ground running.

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4 Alex Muyl (USA & New York Red Bulls)

Muyl is having a breakout season in New York having come through Red Bulls’ academy.

He holds the distinction of being the first player born in New York to score in the Hudson River derby between the Red Bulls and New York City FC.

If he continues on his current trajectory it won’t be long before he’s lining up for the U.S national side.

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5 Jay Chanathip (Thailand & Muangthong United)

Chanathip, who once spent time on trial at Bundesliga side Hamburg, is known as ‘Messi Jay’ by his adoring fans in Thailand.

The midfielder, who plays for Thai champions Muangthong United, is one of the few players in world football who can claim to be smaller than Messi.

But whereas Messi gets to play alongside Neymar and Luis Suarez, Chanathip has to make do with Xisco. Remember him Newcastle fans?

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6 Nadya Karpova (Russia & Chertanovo)

Russia’s Nadya Karpova is the first female footballer to be featured in the Backed By Messi campaign.

She’s the star player for Moscow based side Chertanovo and is expected to become one of the biggest names in the female game.

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7 Davide Calabria (Italy & AC Milan)

Calabria has already earned praise from Milan legend Paolo Maldini who took to Instagram to credit the defender’s performance against Palermo.

He joined Milan aged 12 and has gone on to play for Italy at every level from Under-17s through to the Under-21s.

With the ability to play off both feet and a calmness well above his years Calabria is set to be a mainstay in Milan’s defence for the long-term future.

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8 Kekuta Manneh (Gambia & Vancouver Whitecaps)

Manneh started his career in Gambia but it was with the Vancouver Whitecaps in Canada that he really made his mark.

The forward’s performances in Canada were so impressive that a host of European heavyweights were linked with his signature.

Having gained U.S citizenship Manneh has now stated his intentions to play for the United States.

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9 Nathan (Brazil & Chelsea)

Chelsea fans might not be overly familiar with Nathan, who is currently on loan at Vitesse, but he’s definitely one to watch.

The Brazilian midfielder left Atletico Paranaense to move to Stamford Bridge in 2015 but is yet to feature for the first-team.

He was voted as the second best player at the Under-17 World Cup with Brazil and has already racked up 14 appearances for the Under-20 side.

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10 Kasper Dolberg (Denmark & Ajax)

Danish forward Dolberg was brought to Ajax by the same scout that spotted Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Viktor Fischer and Christian Eriksen. Pressure much?

It looks like Ajax have another star on their hands with Dolberg netting four goal in his first six games in the senior side.

With an eye for the spectacular he’s already up to speed with the Ajax mantra. No doubt we’ll be hearing more about him in the near future.

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