All that glitters…

By Jonathan White Source:Global Times Published: 2016/10/28 5:03:40

Does being named the Golden Boy guarantee a shining future?

Bayern Munich's Renato Sanches controls the ball during the warm-up prior to their German Cup match against Augsburg on Wednesday in Munich, Germany. Photo: CFP

Bayern Munich's Renato Sanches controls the ball during the warm-up prior to their German Cup match against Augsburg on Wednesday in Munich, Germany. Photo: CFP

Bayern Munich midfielder Renato Sanches has been named as the 2016 Golden Boy by the Italian sports newspaper Tuttosport, beating out Manchester United's Marcus Rashford and his Bayern teammate Kingsley Coman for the honor. Sanches joins an illustrious list of past winners, some of whom have gone on to become the biggest names in the game. Some but not all, because it turns out that the award, which is viewed as the "Ballon d'Or for Under-21s," is no guarantee of superstardom.

So what will happen to Sanches, and to Rashford and Coman for that matter? Here's what the future may have in store for the trio based on the careers of the players of podiums past.


The first-ever awards saw Rafael van der Vaart of Ajax beat out Manchester United pair Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo. The Dutchman inherited Johan Cruyff's mantle as the Amsterdam club's playmaker when he was just 17 and despite the initial promise, a combination of injuries and transfers meant a solid rather than spectacular career followed. Two league titles at Ajax were his only major honors but was within touching distance of the World Cup when Holland lost to Spain in the 2010 final. Currently playing at Danish side Midtjylland.


Rooney, runner-up in the first year, claimed the top prize ahead of Ronaldo and Fernando Torres of Atletico Madrid thanks to a year that included his standout performances at the European Championship in Portugal. Currently captain of club and country - and three goals from being record scorer for both - it seems almost churlish to say that a player who has won the Champions League, five Premier Leagues and an FA Cup has had a disappointing career but he never quite managed that superstar potential he showed as a teenager. If the press are to be believed Rooney's career is on the wane but it has been outstanding thus far, just not in the same league as former teammate Ronaldo's record-breaking feats.


There's nothing to be said about the winner of the 2005 Golden Boy, who edged Rooney and Koln's Lukas Podolski. At club level, Lionel Messi has been a serial champion and there appears to be no sign of this stopping. The only blot on his career is the anguish of not winning a major trophy with Argentina, despite reaching the final of the World Cup and two Copa America tournaments. It's a cruel irony that Podolski is the only World Cup winner of the trio. Messi is the current holder of the FIFA Ballon d'Or, the fourth time he has won it.


This was the year that Cesc Fabregas established himself as Arsenal's heartbeat as a teenager and he took them to the Champions League final. He returned to Barcelona where he won the league and the cup before a move to Chelsea where he lifted the Premier League and the League Cup. For Spain, he has twice won the Euros and been world champion. A glittering career just not as good as Messi, who came second that year ahead of Porto's Anderson. Currently struggling to break into Antonio Conte's plans at Chelsea.


Atletico Madrid striker Sergio Aguero beat out a pair of former winners in Messi and Fabregas to take the 2007 title. Since then he won the UEFA Cup with Atleti in 2009 before a move to Manchester City where he fired them to their first league title in 44 years and then another in 2014. Aguero also has the same international anguish as compatriot Messi, appearing in the same losing finals, but has never hit his heights. Still at Manchester City but unsure of his role under new manager Pep Guardiola.


The biggest disappointment of all Golden Boy winners, Anderson's career sparkled briefly as his performances at Porto earned him a move to Manchester United as the heir to Paul Scholes. The fans took to him immediately and his debut season included the Champions League and the first of four Premier League titles. Sent on loan by David Moyes, he was sold by Louis van Gaal and now plays for Internacional in his native Brazil, when he's not getting suspended for punching teammates. Not a vintage year, Anderson beat Arsenal's Theo Walcott and Aguero.


Another Brazilian winner and another disappointment in the form of AC Milan's Alexandre Pato. Injury has put paid to his early promise and several moves later he finds himself at Villareal. Only 27, so it could come good but a single Serie A title and Olympic silver medal are his only achievements of note. A similar story for Fiorentina's Stevan Jovetic and Barcelona's Bojan Krkic, who is now out of favor at Stoke City.


Inter striker Mario Balotelli wondered who second-placed Jack Wilshere of Arsenal was when he won the 2010 title. Balotelli clinched his third Serie A as well as the Coppa Italia and Champions League. Since then Super Mario has made more headlines off the pitch than on, although he did set up Aguero for the goal that won Manchester City the title. Disappointing at both Liverpool and AC Milan, the now 26-year-old is showing signs of his early potential at Nice. Wilshere, meanwhile completed his first 90 minutes in two years, while third-placed David de Gea has established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the world since moving from Atletico Madrid to Manchester United.


Mario Goetze won two Bundesliga titles while at Borussia Dortmund but he failed to establish himself at Bayern Munich and returned to Dortmund this ­summer. Only 24, time is on his side, and he can console himself with scoring the winning goal in the World Cup final, but so far he has not lived up to his early potential. Goetze's former Bayern teammate Thiago Alcantara (then of Barcelona, where he went on to win everything) and Eden Hazard of Lille were the runners-up of a vintage that could still go on to be all-time greats.


Malaga's Isco was the boy wonder of 2012 ahead of AC Milan's Stephan El Shaarawy and Thibaut Courtois of Atletico. Isco has since won two Champions League titles for Real Madrid, while Courtois has become Chelsea's No.1 since his trophy-laden stint at Atletico. Another possible golden generation of Golden Boys.


The Golden Boy of 2013, Paul Pogba is now the world's most expensive footballer but the jury is out on how good he will be after his early form at Manchester United. The pressure is less on his class of Romelu Lukaku, still at Everton, and Julian Draxler, who moved from Schalke 04 to Werder Bremen. Each is young enough to reach superstar status, as are 2014 winner Raheem Sterling, who has since swapped Liverpool for Manchester City, and the runners-up: Liverpool striker Divock Origi and PSG defender Marquinhos. Last year's crop, meanwhile, look even better. Winner ­Anthony Martial lifted this year's FA Cup with Manchester United, trophy-laden Bayern Munich man Coman and Arsenal's Hector Bellerin.


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