Pokémon is all the rage again.
Thanks to "Pokémon GO," the augmented-reality smartphone app that's quickly gone viral, '90s babies can finally realize their childhood dreams -- catching Pokémon in real life and battling strangers in "Pokémon Gyms" disguised as water towers -- all while getting a ton of unexpected exercise. For the truly gifted Pokémon Trainers among us, there's even money to be made. Like, actual money. Seriously.
With Pokémonia in full force, we've decided to kick the nerd level up to the highest possible evolution and match 15 of the world's most recognizable footballers to their most comparable Pokémon. Don't even deny it. You're totally here for this.
Note: Only the original 151 Pokémon were considered.
Lionel Messi - Pikachu
They're both lightning quick, have low centers of gravity and are deceptively powerful for their size. The diehards will say Pikachu is a severely overrated Pokémon, but um, have you seen the TV show? Pikachu always wins, always has your back, and he's your best friend in the whole wide world. He's the face of the game, and so is Messi.
Cristiano Ronaldo - Mewtwo
Mewtwo was crafted by science, and though unanimously considered the most evil of Pokémon, he's also the most powerful. We're still not entirely sure that Ronaldo wasn't also made in a lab. But we do know he has more haters than anyone and puts fear into everyone with the ball at his feet.
Manuel Neuer - Machamp
Machamp has four arms. Neuer doesn't, but it sure feels like it sometimes.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic - Charizard
Charizard is by far the biggest badass in Pokémon world. Zlatan is by far the biggest badass in our world. There is no debate about this.
Neymar - Gengar
One of the most popular Pokémon out there, Gengar is known for his incredible speed and variety of attacking moves, including "Disable." Sounds a lot like what Neymar does to full backs on the regular. They both have one major weakness, though: they play no defense.
Mesut Ozil - Alakazam
Like Alakazam, Ozil is an immensely gifted player with few rivals in terms of creativity and mind control. The knock on both, of course, is they're still too prone to teleporting in and out of games.
John Terry - Onix
Solid as a rock, Onix is one of the best defenders in Pokémon world. He is also a snake. Terry is both of those things on Earth.
Mario Balotelli - Voltorb
We still think there's a really good footballer in Balotelli, just like Voltorb might actually be a pretty useful Pokémon. Alas, Voltorb's go-to move is "self-destruct," which is exactly what Balotelli has done one too many times in his career.
Dimitri Payet - Gyarados
Gyarados is the epitome of a late bloomer, starting out as the utterly useless Magicarp. But now? One good hit with the hyper beam, and the opponent's toast. Payet, another late bloomer, can do the same with one of his unstoppable free kicks.
Jack Wilshere - Psyduck
Always hurt, smh.
Paul Pogba - Ditto
Ditto can morph into any Pokémon and adapt any be done, which is why there's no Pokémon Trainer in the world who wouldn't want him (her?) on their team. Pogba? Ditto.
James Milner - Pidgey
Fair or not, Milner is widely regarded as the most boring footballer on the planet, not least because of comically self-aware videos like this one. Pidgey is undoubtedly the lamest Pokémon of all time. Just look at it. It's literally just a bird. It's named after a pigeon. Its go-to move is "tackle." This is making me angry.
Hulk - Machoke
Do you really need an explanation for this one?
Thomas Mueller - Dragonite
With his gangly stature, unorthodox style and general goofiness, Muller doesn't look like he should be one of the world's best players, but he is. Dragonite looks like he came straight off a kids' cereal box, but is sneakily one of the most powerful Pokémon. This works.
Luis Suarez - Raticate
Some jokes just write themselves.