A decade is a long, long time in football.
There are not many better examples of this than looking back at the 2010 Golden Boy award to see the nominees, which includes a list of 10 names that Tuttosport deemed to be that year’s most promising talents in Europe (entrants have to be under 21).
A blast from the past – the 2010 Golden Boy nominations
Who fulfilled their promise and who didn't? ⬆️➡️⬇️ pic.twitter.com/aUXRoVjE7F
— ReviewFootball (@ReviewFootball) October 10, 2020
How many of them proved to be golden? How many went on to dominate the world game? Where are they now? We decided to see what has become of them all, a decade on.
Team in 2010: Banfield
Trophies won: 2009 Apertura, Primeira Liga (3), 2011 Taca de Portugal, 2011 Europa League; La Liga (2), Champions League (2), 2020 Supercopa Espana, UEFA Super Cup (2), Club World Cup (2), Bundesliga (2), 2019 DFB-Pokal.
Where is he now? James is at Everton, where he’s made an incredible start to life in the Premier League. This spell in England comes at the end of a decade where he’s gone from a prodigy to a superstar to a flop. It’s been a rollercoaster for everyone’s favourite matinee idol, but he’s back on top with the Toffees.
Team in 2010: Schalke
Trophies won: 2011 DFB-Pokal, 2011 DFL-Supercup, 2019 Champions League, 2019 UEFA Super Cup, 2020 Premier League.
Where is he now? Matip is at Liverpool, where he’s an injury-riddled back-up centre-back in one of the most dominant sides in the world. Matip’s shine appeared to dim at Schalke, but a move to Merseyside has resulted in tremendous success.
Team in 2010: Anderlecht
Trophies won: 2010 Belgian Pro League
Where is he now? Lukaku is at Inter Milan. The brilliant Belgian was kept on the backburner by Chelsea for years before working his way up the Premier League to Manchester United and then eventually moving to Italy. He fits Serie A perfectly and is hammering home the goals in record volume for the Nerazzurri, albeit to no title success just yet.
Team in 2010: Lille
Trophies won: 2011 Ligue 1, 2011 Coupe de France, Premier League (2), 2015 League Cup, 2018 FA Cup, Europa League (2), 2020 La Liga
Where is he now? Hazard is at Real Madrid. The second brilliant Belgian on 2010’s shortlist was a hot prospect at Lille, who he led to a Ligue 1 title a year later. His belated (and expensive) move to Madrid hasn’t worked out so far, where he’s looked far from the lightning bolt he was with Chelsea on the rare occasions he’s been fit at the Bernabeu. But given his absurd talent you’d be a fool to count him out just yet.
Team in 2010: Manchester United
Trophies won: 2009 Premier League*, 2010 League Cup
Where is he now? Macheda is at Panathinaikos. One of the supporting stars in Man Utd’s 2009 title triumph has never really hit the heights of his debut and has milled around Europe for various clubs before finally finding success in Greece. A return of 27 goals in 68 games for I Prasini is actually impressive.
Team in 2010: Borussia Dortmund
Trophies won: Bundesliga (5), DFB-Pokal (4), 2013 UEFA Super Cup, 2013 Club World Cup, 2014 FIFA World Cup, 2019 DFL-Supercup
Where is he now? Gotze is at PSV. The Dortmund wunderkind thrilled the world under Jurgen Klopp and then Pep Guardiola at Bayern Munich. He’s also achieved the considerable feat of scoring a World Cup-winning goal. But he’s never been the same since that afternoon in Rio, and injuries have plagued him during his whole second spell with Dortmund. They let his contract expire this summer, and PSV snagged him. Can he write a successful chapter for himself in the Eredivisie? Let’s see.
Team in 2010: Chelsea
Trophies won: n/a
Where is he now? Kakuta is at Lens. The DR Congo international was once a blisteringly hot prospect coming through the Chelsea youth academy after being poached from Lens. He seemed destined for the top, but for whatever reason it never really worked out for him, anywhere. But now he’s back at Lens (on loan) and has four goals in six games.
Team in 2010: Lyon
Trophies won: Serie A (4), Coppa Italia (2), 2018 Supercoppa Italiana
Where is he now? Pjanic is at Barcelona. The Bosnian joined the Catalan side this summer after a bizarre transfer motivated by the FFP needs of both the Blaugrana and Juventus. Pjanic had been tremendous in Italy, both for Juve and first Roma, and in France too.
Team in 2010: Inter Milan
Trophies won: 2010 Supercoppa Italiana, 2011 Coppa Italia, 2011 U-20 World Cup, La Liga (2), 2018 Copa del Rey, 2018 Supercopa de Espana, 2019 Copa America, 2020 Bundesliga, 2020 DFB-Pokal, 2020 Champions League
Where is he now? Coutinho is at Barcelona. The Brazilian was a flop at Inter, rehabilitated at Espanyol, then had tremendous success at Liverpool. His form at Anfield sealed a huge move to Barcelona, but he ultimately proved an expensive flop before becoming a successful but merely adequate squad player at Bayern Munich. Back in Barcelona he’s out to rediscover his best form and so far has looked pretty sharp.
And the winner…
Team in 2010: Inter Milan
Trophies won: Serie A (3), 2008 Supercoppa Italiana, 2010 Coppa Italia, 2010 Champions League, 2011 FA Cup, 2012 Premier League
Where is he now? Balotelli is currently a free agent. The intense Italian began the decade by winning the Treble and being named Golden Boy. He then moved to England and helped Manchester City win their first-ever Premier League title and finished joint-top scorer at Euro 2012 (where he was also in the Team of the Tournament). Just two years in and this looked like it could be Balotelli’s decade.
But that was as good as it got. Performances dipped in Manchester, arguments with just about everyone followed and he left. Meandering around Europe, he didn’t stay anywhere more than two seasons and only once topped 20 goals in a season (with Nice). He last played for Brescia, who got relegated, which triggered a clause releasing him from his contract. Now he’s waiting for someone to take a chance on him.