When you've commented on football for a quarter of a century you become blasé about the announcement of "the next big thing".
I've been fortunate to commentate on Lionel Messi's arrival, Wayne Rooney's first ever top-flight goal, and the teenage Cristiano Ronaldo at Sporting Lisbon, so they are my standard bearers.
Now I think I have seen the young man who is going to be a footballing icon for the next decade. Marco Asensio hasn’t just stepped into the spotlight, he’s stolen it from the famous BBC (Benzema, Bale and Cristano Ronaldo).
Last week, he rescued Real Madrid with two goals against Deportivo La Coruña to build on a reputation that is flourishing in at breakneck speed.
It’s just twelve months since he broke onto the scene with a debut goal in the European Super Cup against Sevilla and, since then, he’s followed it up with debut goals in La Liga, the Champions League, and European Super Cup.
He’s only 21 and has already scored in a Champions League final and both home and away against Barcelona in this season’s Spanish Super Cup.
So even if he retired now and was judged by his medals, his career would be classed as a raging success, but it’s only just beginning.
How do we sum him up? Well, he has a wonderful left foot but he’s no Messi. He dictates Real Madrid’s play but he’s no Ronaldo. What’s more, he looks like Xabi Alonso and he’s set for a career to match the handsome Basque.
When we saw him on loan at Espanyol, truthfully, he didn’t stand out. He notched just four goals in thirty-four Liga appearances. Nobody expected him to return to the capital and make the impact that he has done in the last year.
His success is undoubtedly down to his God-given talents but also the foresight of Zinedine Zidane. The Frenchman knew him from the Castilla days and he’s crafted him carefully. He introduced him when nobody expected it and held him back when he was having his greatest impact. Most managers wouldn’t have been able to resist the temptation, however Zidane started him in just six league games from January to the end of last season. On merit he may have deserved a place in the Champions League final starting eleven, but he came on to score anyway.
I would argue that he has now broken through the dominance of the BBC;it has to be Asensio plus two of the others. In the long-term, he should replace the once seemingly-irreplaceable Ronaldo; in the short-term Gareth Bale has a rival.
It’s crazy to think that in a country that has boasted the greatest midfield trio of our times, in Xavi-Busquets-Iniesta, there’s a possibility that there is an individual to challenge them for their achievements.