Yaya Sanogo..

The Top 20 best young players on Football Manager 2012 - where are they now?

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Kylian Mbappe was unofficially crowned the finest young player in world football when he collected TuttoSport's annual Golden Boy award this week.

The mercurial Frenchman fought off the likes of Ousmane Dembele and Marcus Rashford to the coveted award which has been won by Lionel Messi, Cesc Fabregas and Sergio Aguero in the past.

It is worth noting that Anderson and Mario Balotelli also adorn the winners' list despite their careers imploding dramatically compared to their predecessors.

The award serves as evidence that it is oh-so difficult to predict the trajectory of young footballers, no matter how much talent and promise they display in their early professional years.

Perhaps one of the best available indicators, though, proves Football Manager.

There are few feelings in the game like procuring an exciting young prospect that transforms into an absolute world beater - like the now notorious Cherno Sambo from the 2001 edition.

Well, five years ago, talkSPORT compiled the 20 players that were classed as the best wonderkids in the beautiful game on Football Manager 2012. 

On the whole, you've got to give props to the game, even if some of the selections were in their twenties at the time. There are few players on the list that never truly showed their full potential and aren't instantly recognisable names.

Take a look at the list:

Mario Gotze

You can't exactly question this choice. Gotze enjoyed three decent seasons at Bayern Munich and scored the winner in the 2014 World Cup final, before a quiet return to Borussia Dortmund in 2016.

Germany Team Celebrates After Winning The 2014 FIFA World Cup

Marc-Andre ter Stegen

When you've risen to the status of Barcelona's number one goalkeeper, it's fair to say you've done well for yourself - spot on here.

Kurt Zouma

Rewind 12 months and you'd seriously be singing Football Manager's praise. Zouma was a shrewd purchase by Chelsea in 2014 but a brutal ACL injury in 2016 has slammed the brakes on his rise to the top.


The first major miscalculation by the game. Adryan showed great promise with Flamengo in Brazil yet his forays into European football with Cagliari, Leeds United and Nantes were about as nondescript as they come.


Jack Wilshere

His talent was no secret at the time of these calculations and there remains few players in the English game with such raw passion and talent even now.

Xherdan Shaqiri

Another good shout from Football Manager but Shaqiri's career has certainly waned in recent years. Free goalscoring at Bayern Munich has petered down to frustrating showings for Stoke City.

Yaya Sanogo

Secured his big chance at Arsenal in 2013. Scored just one goal. Flopped at Charlton. Poor prediction.



A question of what could have been. Oscar burst onto the scene at Chelsea with a barnstorming performance v Juventus yet can now be found stewing in Chinese football.

Erik Lamela

Even dubbed 'the new Lionel Messi', Lamela's impressive rise at AS Roma hit a brick wall when he moved to Tottenham and a recent injury has killed any chances of a resurgence.

Phil Jones

You've got to give credit to the man himself here. Jones started well at Manchester United and has quelled practically all exit rumours with a storming start to this campaign - justifies Football Manager's forecasting.

Huddersfield Town v Manchester United - Premier League

Christian Eriksen

Started slowly at Tottenham, now one of the Premier League's most talented stars - good call.


Well Football Manager really pulled it out the bag here, didn't they? Admittedly, Neymar's ability was more than apparent by 2012 but few would have predicted him to taken to European football as spectacularly as he has. Surely a Ballon d'Or in his future.

Paul Pogba

Jumped the Manchester United ship and returned with a world record fee round his neck, Pogba is beginning to showcase his mercurial ability in the Premier League again.

Manchester United v FC Basel - UEFA Champions League

Raheem Sterling

At this point, any chance of the lottery numbers Football Manager? The Golden Boy winner raced to prominence at Liverpool and his bold decision to move to Manchester City is starting to pay off.

John Fleck

Showing so much promise in his early days at Rangers, the 26-year-old is now something of a journeymen in the EFL. Still without a single cap for the Scottish senior team.

Jack Robinson

Touted to become one of the world's finest left-backs as a youngster at Liverpool, Robinson fell completely off the radar when he moved to QPR in 2014 after just 11 appearances in red. Now rebuilding his career after two years of injury hell.


Serge Aurier

Another pretty good call with Aurier now settling in at Tottenham after impressing at the 2014 World Cup and with Paris Saint-Germain.

Jordan Ayew

A career of what could have been, you'd be hard pressed to say Ayew has lived up to the wonderkid billing. The 26-year-old is now putting in a decent shift at Swansea City after a satisfying spell with a doomed Aston Villa side.

Carlos Fierro

An absolute must-buy on Football Manager in 2012 but a must-buy for very few managers in real life now - still ticking along in Mexican football.


Thibaut Courtois

One of the finest young goalkeepers of his generation, Courtois has proven his brilliant rise at Atletico Madrid was no fluke by establishing himself as the first name on the teamsheet at Chelsea.

Who would you have in your top 20 wonderkids for 2017? Have your say in the comments section below.

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