The Football Manager (previously known as Championship Manager) series has been hit and miss when it comes to predicting the stars of tomorrow.
There have been times when the game’s creators have got it bang on. The likes of Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero and Cesc Fabregas first came to the attention of many football fans thanks to the hugely-popular video game.
But it’s the ones they got wrong which people like to talk about most. Freddy Adu, Cherno Samba and Kerlon were just three of the many ‘wonderkids’ who failed to live up to the hype in real life.
Meanwhile, someone on Reddit has posted a list of the 33 wonderkids who featured on Football Manager 2010, which was released 10 years ago in October 2010.
But did all of those players manage to fulfil this potential?
Alphonse Aréola (Age 17)
Capped three times by France, Alphonse Aréola joined Paris Saint-Germain in 2013 but has spent most of the past seven years out on loan. The 27-year-old is currently at Fulham.
David de Gea (Age 19)
One of the best goalkeepers of his generation, it’s fair to say David de Gea *has* fulfilled his potential at Manchester United. That said, the 30-year-old’s form has taken a big dip over the past 18-24 months.
Phil Jones (Age 18)
"Jones, arguably the way he is looking, could be our best ever player. I think Jones may be one of the best players we have ever had, not matter where we play him.”
We can’t mention Phil Jones without bringing up Sir Alex Ferguson’s infamous comment from 2013.
Fergie rated Jones even higher than Football Manager.
Sebastián Coates (Age 19)
Signed by Liverpool in 2011, highly-rated defender Sebastián Coates struggled at Anfield before moving to Sunderland on a permanent deal four years later. The Uruguayan has been at Sporting Lisbon since 2017.
Mateo Musacchio (Age 19)
Mateo Musacchio, capped six times by Argentina, joined AC Milan in 2017 after bringing an end to his eight-year stint with Villarreal.
Mamadou Sakho (Age 20)
The French centre-back left PSG for Liverpool in 2013 before moving on to Crystal Palace four years later. The 30-year-old is still at Selhurst Park now.
Serhiy Kryvtsov (Age 19)
Not a household name of European football, but Serhiy Kryvtsov has still enjoyed a decent career with Shakhtar Donetsk and Ukraine.
Danny Wilson (Age 18)
Signed for Liverpool from Rangers in 2010, Danny Wilson failed to make the grade at Anfield and now plays for Colorado Rapids in MLS.
César Azpilicueta (Age 20)
César Azpilicueta has been one of Chelsea’s key players since joining the Blues from Marseille in 2012. A good prediction from Football Manager, this.
Davide Santon (Age 19)
The Italian left-back failed to make a huge impact at Newcastle United but still managed to seal a move to Inter Milan in 2015. He then moved to AS Roma in 2018.
Aaron Ramsey (Age 19)
Aaron Ramsey made 369 appearances for Arsenal, scoring 64 goals, before completing a surprise move to Juventus in the summer of 2019.
Philippe Coutinho (Age 18)
Failed to impress at Inter but cemented his status as a world-class playmaker at Liverpool before completing a £142 million move to Barcelona in January 2018. The Brazilian won the Champions League last season while on loan at Bayern Munich.
Moussa Sissoko (Age 20)
At Toulouse when FM 2011 was released, Moussa Sissoko moved to Newcastle United in 2013 before sealing a switch to Tottenham in 2016. The midfielder has been capped 63 times by France.
Christian Eriksen (Age 18)
Left Ajax for Tottenham in 2013 and became one of the Premier League’s best playmakers. He then fancied a new challenge in January 2020 and moved to Inter Milan, but that transfer hasn’t quite worked out for the Dane.
Gareth Bale (Age 20)
It was already pretty clear that Gareth Bale was a special talent by 2010. The Welshman helped Real Madrid win a remarkable four Champions League titles and is now back on loan at Tottenham after falling out with Zinedine Zidane.
Miralem Pjanic (Age 20)
The classy central midfielder joined AS Roma in 2011 before moving to Juventus in 2016. The Bosnia and Herzegovina is now on Barcelona’s books after completing a switch to Camp Nou ahead of the 2020-21 season.
Sergio Canales (Age 19)
Sergio Canales looked the real deal when he first broke into Real Madrid’s first team, but the attacking midfielder hasn’t quite managed to live up to the hype. Now 29, the Spain international has spent the past couple of years with Real Betis.
Douglas Costa (Age 19)
Unstoppable on his day, Douglas Costa has spent the past five years switching between Bayern Munich and Juventus.
James Rodríguez (Age 18)
One of the best performers at the 2014 World Cup, James Rodríguez moved to Real Madrid after that tournament and scored 37 goals in 125 games for Los Blancos. The Colombian is currently working under Carlo Ancelotti at Everton.
Jack Wilshere (Age 18)
Jack Wilshere’s story is a sad one. He could have been some player had it not been for a series of untimely injuries.
Eden Hazard (Age 19)
Eden Hazard moved to Chelsea in 2012 and became a club legend over the next seven years before sealing a dream move to Real Madrid.
Stevan Jovetic (Age 20)
After impressing at Fiorentina, Manchester City signed the Montenegro forward in 2013. But after struggling for game-time at the Etihad Stadium, he ended up joining Inter Milan in 2016.
Jovetic is now AS Monaco’s No. 10 and has scored 13 goals in 47 games.
Toni Kroos (Age 20)
Toni Kroos has won the lot for both club and country during his glittering career, including three Champions Leagues with Real Madrid and the World Cup with Germany.
David Alaba (Age 18)
The versatile defender has been a key player for Bayern Munich over the past decade and now boasts an extraordinary collection of winners’ medals.
Georginio Wijnaldum (Age 19)
Georginio Wijnaldum impressed at Newcastle United during the 2015-16 season but took his game to a whole new level after joining Liverpool, where he has been a popular and important member of Jurgen Klopp’s squad.
Neymar (Age 18)
Neymar was already outrageously good in 2011, by which point he’d caught the attention of Europe’s top clubs thanks to his performances with Santos.
The Brazilian went on to enjoy four successful seasons with Barcelona before stunning the Catalan club in 2017 by demanding a record-breaking transfer to PSG.
Neymar has scored 72 goals in 89 games for the Parisians at the time of writing and helped the club reach last season’s Champions League final.
Romelu Lukaku (Age 17)
The Belgian wasn’t given a fair crack of the whip at Chelsea but went on to score lots of goals for West Brom, Everton and Manchester United.
Lukaku is now bossing it at Inter Milan, where he’s bagged an impressive 41 goals in 57 games.
Alexandre Pato (Age 20)
Alexandre Pato looked utterly sensational during his early years but, sadly, hasn’t developed into the next Ronaldo. The 31-year-old is currently a free agent after leaving Sao Paulo.
Yaya Sanogo (Age 17)
Yaya Sanogo is now 27 years old. How did that happen?!
The former France Under-21 international struggled at Arsenal and is also a free agent after leaving Toulouse earlier this year.
Thomas Müller (Age 20)
The German has enjoyed a terrific career with Bayern Munich and Germany over the past decade.
André Schürrle (Age 19)
Another member of the Germany team that won the 2014 World Cup, André Schürrle’s club career was less impressive than his international achievements. The winger retired earlier this year, aged just 29, stating that he no longer wanted to face the loneliness and endless competition which is part-and-parcel of top-flight football.
Mario Balotelli (Age 19)
If he’d been more dedicated to his profession and avoided a host of off-field dramas, perhaps Mario Balotelli would have fulfilled his potential. The Italian left Brescia following their relegation at the end of last season and is currently a free agent.
Son Heung-min (Age 17)
One of the Premier League’s best players, 28-year-old Tottenham forward Son Heung-min continues to get better and better.
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