Where are the golden boys of the last decade?

The golden boy award is presented by Tuttosport to the European best young footballer under the age of 21.

The golden boy winners are expected to be one of the best players in the world in years to come but that hasn’t been the case recently when you consider the recent travails of past winner Paul Pogba who has been surpassed by Portuguese Bruno Fernandes.

This post will look at the golden boy winners of the past decade and judge their performance over the years.

Mario Balotelli

Super Mario won the Golden Boy award in 2010 as a 20 years old prodigy playing for Inter Milan in Serie A before sealing a €21.8 million move to Manchester City. That was the beginning of the end for the Italian international who had the world at his feet. Balotelli scored 11 goals and notched 9 assists for Inter Milan in 2009/10 season enroute to winning the golden boy award. His career went to a high after joining Manchester city with his reputation as a treble winner. He also carried the form to the Euro 2012 where he emerged joint top scorer and made the Euro 2012 Team of the Tournament.

That was in the past. Balotelli fell out with Mancini at Manchester City and was shipped to AC Milan where he enjoyed success by scoring 12 times in 13 appearances and followed that with 14 in the next season. This made Liverpool sign him to replace the outgoing Suarez thinking him his back to his best.

He flopped at Liverpool scoring just 4 goals throughout the season with 1 coming in the league. AC Milan came back with a loan offer but he was unable to replicate his first stint performance. Liverpool ended up releasing him on a free transfer after which he joined Nice in Ligue 1. 43 goals over the course of 2 seasons represents Balotelli best so far and Marseille came calling before Brescia signed him.

Mario Balotelli is presently 30 years of age and his without a club. A host of disciplinary issues and pride have stopped the one time golden boy from reaching the top

Mario Gotze

Who can forget Mario Gotze in a hurry? The 28 years old won the Golden boy award as a 19 years old super attacking midfielder thriving in Jurgen Klopp Gengenpressing. He had a very good career that saw him scoring the winning goal in the 2014 world cup final against Argentina. He had sealed a move to Bayern Munich by then and that was the mistake he made. He never replicated his best Borussia Dortmund performance of 16 goals and 20 assists a season.

The dearth of the number 10 role coupled with weight issues and injury problems saw him slide down the pecking order and he subsequently asked to be shipped back to Boyhood club Borussia Dortmund.

If Bayern was a bad decision, going back to Dortmund was the worst decision ever. He never picked and was given a free transfer at the end of the 2019/20 season. He is now plying his trade at PSV Eindhoven in Eredivisie at the age of 28.

What a downfall of the once great bride of Germany?


Isco Alarcon career has been a hill ever since winning the golden boy award in 2012 at the age of 20. He was a Iniesta esque player who is technically gifted and could fashion out chances against the tightest of defence. He was crucial to Malaga run to the 2012/13 champions league quarter final by scoring once and assisting another one in the 2-0 win against Porto which overturned the first leg defeat and a chance in the quarter finals against eventual runners-up Borussia Dortmund.

Isco is just everything you want in a player. He sealed a big money move to Madrid and was almost indispensable. He regularly featured on a daily basis until the 18/19 season and have been more on the bench that the pitch ever since then.

He is still 28 and has shown he can still perform magic when called upon. A move away from Real Madrid can see him performing wonders like James Rodriguez who left the club in similar fashion.

Isco is having a great career so far and look to retire on a high.

Paul Pogba

The French man has been great ever since winning the Golden boy award with Juventus in 2013 as a 20 years old midfielder. He is 27 now and he has won the world cup with France and even scoring once in the final. He played all the matches of the competition except the one against Denmark where Deschamps rotated his team.

He sealed a then-world record fee move back to Manchester united where he has been wonderful so far. A very versatile player who can play as defensive, central, or attacking midfielder has been Manchester united best player in the middle until the signing of Bruno Fernandes. His desire to move to Madrid has seen him find game time hard to get.

Paul Pogba is just 27 and he is the go-to guy in the midfield of the France national team and it doesn’t look like he will stop soon. His minor blip in Manchester united this season won’t stop him from being one of the best players in his position and one who still has a lot of years to dazzle. A move to Real Madrid will be huge success considering the ageing Modric and Toni Kroos. It is all success for Paul Pogba who is one of the Golden boys who are currently doing well.

Raheem Sterling

Raheem Sterling won the golden boy award in 2014 as a 20 years old attacker plying his trade for Liverpool. The England international has not looked back since then. He has grown by leaps and bounds and he is just 25 years of age. He is now regarded as one of the best players in the world thanks to Pep Guardiola who transformed him from a one-direction player to a fearsome winger who can now score 31 goals and notch 10 assists in a season.

The England international has now scored 79 goals in his last 3 seasons with a further 45 assists to go with it. This is purely greatness and we haven’t seen the height of it. At the tender age of 25, Raheem Sterling still has a lot in his boot to offer both country and Manchester City. He has won the domestic treble with Manchester City, powered England to the nations league third place.

The Jamaican born international is on course for great things in the football world.

Anthony Martial

Anthony Martial got the Golden Boy award in 2015 while plying his trade for Monaco in French Ligue 1 at the age of 20 and it looks like he will be one of the numerous Golden boy miss.

The Frenchman sealed a big money move to Manchester united and initially shone in his first season by scoring 17 goals in total but that was it. He struggled to make any meaningful impact again until last season where he scored 23 goals in all competitions. He is inconsistent and that may affect his chances of being a Golden boy hit. He is still at a young age of 24 and much is still expected but that is not an excuse considering the many wonders that is being done at such age. A look at Sancho, Haaland, and Werner will show you that all is not okay with Martial. The Frenchman risk being another Anderson who went into oblivion.

Martial status is still undecided now as we don’t know what the future holds for the Frenchman compared to former greats like Thierry Henry.

Renato Sanches

Do we have any bigger fraud in the Golden boy award than Portuguese Renato Sanches? Renato Sanches won the Golden Boy award due to his energetic performance for Portugal at the Euros 2016. That was the end of the dreadlock man as his career hit a deadlock. Bayern Munich got him for a huge fee but he couldn’t make an impact in any of his appearances and was subsequently loaned to Swansea City where his career stagnated. The next 2 seasons with Bayern Munich was the same story and he had to leave for Lille where he is now just a normal midfielder.

He is no longer the revered Golden boy who could perform wonders. He is just 23 but we strongly believe his best is past him. He is another miss in the Golden Boy list.

Kylian Mbappe

Mbappe is currently the most achieved golden boy after Lionel Messi. Mbappe won the Golden boy award in 2017 at the age of 19 and he has grown by leaps and bounds. His heroics have surpassed PSG mega signing Neymar.

Kylian Mbappe is just 21 years of age and he has scored an astonishing 124 goals with 75 assists in club football. He has scored 90 goals for PSG alone in 3 seasons. This shows how crazy Mbappe stats are. He is now being compared to Brazilian Delima Ronaldo and he deserves that comparison. He is breaking all records that is to break and doesn’t look like stopping too.

He is France golden boy and his 4 goals in the 2018 world cup especially his showing against Argentina shows that we are yet to see the greatness of Mbappe.

Mbappe is a huge hit and one for the Ballon d’or in years to come.

Matthijs de Ligt

De Ligt was Ajax rock at the back when he won the golden boy award in 2018 as a 19 years old. He was like their Sergio Ramos scoring important goals when it matters most and also marshalling the defense. Injury problems have restricted us from seeing the best from him in Juventus but his 4 goals in the league showed that he can still pop some goals when it matters.

Our decision is still crossed on this one

Joao Felix

Joao Felix oozes quality. He plays a kind of football that you will take him for a 28 years old attacker. His performance for Benfica in 2019 saw him win the golden boy award at the age of 20. This sealed a move to Atletico Madrid where he is now blossoming. He scored 9 goals in total last season for Atletico Madrid but is looking at tripling that mark this season. He has scored 7 goals so far this season in just 10 matches.

The Portuguese international is just starting and much is still expected from him.

He look like a hit but we can’t make an early judgement now

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