​Tuttosport's annual Golden Boy for players under 20 has become one of the most prestigious in Europe, with many stellar names on the shortlist for the upcoming award - Jadon Sancho, Matthijs de Ligt and Joao Felix are considered the frontrunners.

Modern football may have brought about a lot of annoying things, but a tangible award for what is essentially a barometer of the best wonderkid on Football Manager has been most welcome.

With 16 winners of the award already in the history books, we rank the players based on just how good they turned out to be.

16) Renato Sanches

Renato Sanches

Alright, at the age of just 22, there's still plenty of time for Renato Sanches to get his career back on track and prove us wrong. Until he does that, however, he's the worst winner of the Golden Boy award.

A couple of flash-in-the-pan performances for Portugal on their way to winning Euro 2016 meant standards were sky-high for Sanches, who promptly joined ​Bayern Munich.

He quickly became a peripheral member of the squad in Bavaria, and an infamously awful loan spell at ​Swansea followed, before moving to Lille in August 2019 for a club-record 25m.

15) Anderson

Anderson,Michael Jakobsen

Oh, Anderson. Better than Kleberson, ​Manchester United's midfield magician, blighted by injuries and fitness issues galore.

The stocky Brazilian provided a great mixture of flair​ and typical United efficiency when he first arrived at Old Trafford, but it just never came together for him, rarely starting more than two games in a row or even reaching 20 games in a ​Premier League season.

Such were the severity of his injury problems that Anderson retired in September 2019, aged just 31.

14) Alexandre Pato

AC Milan's forward Alexandre Pato jubila

Another story of what could have been if not for injuries, Alexandre Pato at least showed prolonged periods of his brilliance as opposed to Anderson's cameos.

63 goals in 150 games for ​Milan showed Pato was, at the very least, a good striker ​in his heyday, winning their last Scudetto in 2011, but never he never quite reached the heights he was expected to. 

Still, his brief loan spell at ​Chelsea will make great use for pub quizzes of the future.

13) Mario Balotelli

Mario Balotelli,John Ruddy

​Mario Balotelli's legacy is almost certainly going to outweigh what he actually achieved in a career defined by moments over achievements.

That Euro 2012 semi-final against Germany, 'Why Always Me?', his sole ​Manchester City assist winning them the league, wearing a Milan shirt on TV while he was an ​Inter player, letting off fireworks in his own bathroom.

Yep, Balotelli is certainly a character​, and would be higher up on this list if he had more moments to remember on the pitch.

12) Anthony Martial

Manchester United v Liverpool - Premier League

Okay, Manchester United fans, ​we hear you getting angry, but at least hear us out - has Anthony Martial actually improved that much since he scored against ​Liverpool on his debut? Is the pinnacle of his career an emotional utterance by Martin Tyler way back in September 2015?

Obviously there's still a lot of time for Martial to make a huge leap, but it feels like he's been the same inconsistent wide forward for years now, and he needs to improve before United find themselves in a situation that's completely beyond rescue.

11) Rafael van der Vaart

Rafael Van der Vaart

A great, glittering career, but one that should have been on par with some of his peers of his generation.

Van der Vaart grew up in the same Dutch generation as Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Robin van Persie, yet he is likely to be remembered far less than all three. His spell at Tottenham was a memorable one, but not one to warrant a higher place on this list.

10) Matthijs de Ligt

UEFA Champions League"Juventus FC v Ajax"

While he is just 20, Matthijs de Ligt has shown to the world that he's already capable of being the complete modern defender.

A shaky start to life at ​Juventus has allowed recency bias to creep in and make people doubt the Dutchman, but every player his age will have flaws, and he's still well on course for a top career for club and country.

Nominated again this year, he could be the first player to win the Golden Boy twice.

9) Isco

Isco Alarcon

You'd think a four-time winner of the ​Champions League would be higher up in this list, but the brilliant Isco has failed to really fulfil his potential at ​Real Madrid.

Sure, he's easy on the eye and ​is the archetypal Spanish midfielder of the 2010s, but Isco has never established himself as one of the big dogs at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Hope is not all lost to become a world-beater, but the clock is ticking.

8) Mario Gotze

Mario Gotze

Honestly, all that separates Isco and Mario Gotze on this list is the fact that the latter scored the winner in a World Cup final.

The idea of the world's greatest young talent moving to Bayern and playing under Pep Guardiola back in 2013 was one full of promise, but never was a fruitful situation in reality. Struggling for game time at the Allianz Arena, Gotze returned to ​Borussia Dortmund in 2016, but has since battled various health and fitness issues.

At least he'll always have that World Cup winner, though.

7) Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba

For all of the titles, including a World Cup of his own, that ​Paul Pogba has won in his career, it still feels like a situation of unfulfilled potential.

On his day, the Frenchman is the complete midfielder, but that day is occurring once in a blue moon at the moment, and has been for some time.

A player of Pogba's ability shouldn't need others to continually hold his hand, but nevertheless is well worthy of a spot this high on the list.

6) Raheem Sterling

Raheem Sterling

You could well make an argument that ​Raheem Sterling, despite all of the doubters and unnecessary abuse he's received in recent years, is the best English player of his generation.

A key figure in one of English football's most dominant teams in history, Sterling has evolved from a tricky winger into a constant goal threat, tackling issues off the pitch on the way​ to global stardom.

5) Cesc Fabregas

Arsenal's Spanish midfielder Cesc Fabreg

It's rare that a player's peak years come at the start of his career, but ​Cesc Fabregas certainly ticks that box.

Somewhere between a No. 8 and a No. 10 for ​Arsenal, the Spaniard was a revolutionary midfielder in the late 2000s, often carrying the Gunners' workload himself.

Fruitful spells at ​Barcelona and Chelsea followed, where he finally won the silverware his time at Arsenal deserved.

4) Kylian Mbappe


Barring any serious injuries, it's hard to envisage a future in which ​Kylian Mbappe does not eventually win the Ballon d'Or.

With a stellar World Cup win and a few of Ligue 1 titles al​ready under his belt, Mbappe's legacy is already far greater than many icons throughout football history.

The lad's still only 20. Mental.

3) Wayne Rooney

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney (C) cel...

The top scorer in Manchester United's history makes the top three by the skin of his teeth. A trophy-laden career which was only ever missing a trophy with England, Wayne Rooney has almost become underrated because of the expectations put upon him when he was a teenager.

With a spell back in England at Derby still to come, there's time yet to add to his legacy back home. 

We'd also like to see a mixed tag-team match with Coleen against the Vardy's.

2) Sergio Aguero

Sergio Aguero

From the top scorer in United's history to the top scorer in Manchester City's, ​Sergio Aguero has been a consistent 20-goal a season threat for the noisy neighbours, with his arrival coinciding with the shift in power in the north-west.

Extra points are given for having one of football's seminal moments, winning the Premier League title with that goal against ​​QPR back in 2012.

1) Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi

Simply the best (better than all the rest), there's no conceivable argument that would have ​Lionel Messi not finishing as the No. 1​ here.

We don't need to write a book, chapter or even elongated paragraph to explain this decision - everything we could say is redundant at this point. Enjoy the greatness.