They have the potential, but they need to play constantly for serious cluns in serious championships, so that they even reach the class of the previous players.
This is so because many more people than before realized that they can win money from football, therefore there are more young players training, and so more of them show talent. Before, they played for the love of the game.
An Idol for the youngsters. I belive that if a player is idolized by many young kids, they will start to play football and want to be like their idol. Therefore, the more kids that play the more natural talent will be discovered. That's why I think either US, China, Iran can have a good team if one great great player comes from their country.
I know that from Romania right now it is Hagi and Popescu. In Argentina it's Batistuta, Italy has Maldini, just to name a few current legends.
The average player is much better than before. Back in the day, football was more of a game, than a sport. Today, with all the money invested in it, the youth development programs, the specialized training. It's only natural for players to become better on the average.
It's just like anything else in life. The longer it stays around, the better it gets. More people playing, and just more people associated with the sport is what makes the players better.
Back in the day, players could rotate from position to position quite a bit. Today, you don't see it as much, each player has a certain role to play, and concentrates mostly on that. They have to become better this way.