Messi and Ronaldo have still shown flickering flashes of brilliance at the World Cup, with their aura and presence carrying them through games when their old magic is fading.
Yet with Messi expected to make a move to Major League Soccer in the U.S. next year and Ronaldo seemingly off to Saudi Arabia, their time at the top is coming an end.
So who comes next as the dominant force at the top of the game?
Three names come to the fore, with Kylian Mbappé, Erling Haaland and Jude Bellingham all likely to be prominent stars of the game over the next decade.
At this point, you would have to say Mbappé is leading that trio, but one big factor is holding him back.
The brilliant French forward who will be in action against Poland today won’t be able to become a true great of the game as long as he is playing in the French league.
He might have a chance to get his hands on the Champions League trophy with Paris Saint-Germain, but everyone knows why the superstars are going to that club.
PSG is all about money and if Mbappé wants to be respected as the best player in the world, he can’t do it in a Mickey Mouse league.
He needs to go to Real Madrid, Barcelona or the Premier League to showcase his talents against opposition that will test him because scoring 50 goals a year in France doesn’t mean too much.
Mbappé has been in the discussion over who is the best player in the world for a few years now and he played a big role in France’s 2018 World Cup win.
Yet I’d love to see him playing in the Premier League in England every week or trying to be the leader at a big club like Real Madrid.
The rumours suggest he wants out of PSG, so maybe that move to a genuinely big club will happen sooner rather than later.
Haaland is another player who has to be considered as a future Ballon d’Or contender.
It’s a shame that he is not at the World Cup, but that’s always going to be an issue when you are playing for a nation like Norway.
Haaland is the best out-and-out striker in the world right now and if Norway can get a team together to support their star man, there is no reason why they can’t challenge to be at the next World Cup.
With 48 teams involved in the next tournament in four years’ time, FIFA appears to be desperate to get every team in the draw, so that might give Norway (and dare we say Ireland) a chance.
Norway’s absence from the World Cup is great news for Manchester City as their star man has had a month off and he will be good to go when the Premier League returns later this month.
Bellingham is the other player I would add into this mix as the ‘next big thing’ in football, but he has questions still to answer.
There is no doubt that the England midfielder has incredible potential and I would love to see Liverpool win the race to get him.
The trouble is, Borussia Dortmund can ask for a huge price for one of the most wanted players in the game and he will have his pick of clubs to join.
This lad has poise on the ball, a real presence for his age and he looks to be the real deal.
But he has a lot of development to do and working with a manager like Jürgen Klopp or Pep Guardiola could take him to a wonderful new level.
We will see Mbappé and Bellingham in action at the World Cup today and I have to say, the football so far has been great to watch.
The upsets have added to the drama and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see an unexpected team making it through to the semi-finals.
This is a strange World Cup, with some big nations already on their way home and more will go in this weekend's Round of 16.
Sport is at its best when it’s unpredictable and that’s what we are getting every day in Qatar.