Every Golden Boy Award Winner Ranked From ‘GOAT’ To ‘Total Failure’
Lionel Messi has been named the greatest ever winner of the Golden Boy award, while World Cup winners Paul Pogba and Mario Gotze are labelled 'Overrated'.
The Golden Boy prize is given to the best young player across Europe each year, so competition is incredibly fierce and expectations sky-high. Erling Haaland picked up the 2020 award this December - but SPORTbible have put every winner in their TierMaker ranking.
Pogba, Gotze and Real Madrid's Isco as 'Overrated' might seem harsh. But the hope if you win the Golden Boy is that you'll one day be a Ballon d'Or type contender - and these players are falling short.
The same can be said of the first ever Golden Boy winner in 2003: Rafael van der Vaart. Despite 109 caps for Holland and some special goals, Van der Vaart never consistently fulfilled his huge potential.
Messi, who won this award aged 18, as the 'GOAT' is easy. 'Legends' in the next tier down are Sergio Aguero, Wayne Rooney and Cesc Fabregas. These players won the award from 2004 to 2007 and proved their greatness in the years since.
However 2008 winner Anderson sits firmly in the 'Flop' category, alongside Mario Balotelli and Alexandre Pato. Each of these players had highlight moments, but certainly fell far below the expectations set for them as teenagers.
Tipped to go in the other direction from that trio are 'Future Legends' Kylian Mbappe, Haaland and Raheem Sterling. All look to be headed for greatness.
The trickiest category is 'Still Time', containing Matthijs de Ligt, Joao Felix and Anthony Martial. Each has struggled at times since winning the award, but also show signs they can still fulfil their talent.
Unfortunately, it's hard to think of a Golden Boy winner whose star has fallen as fast as Renato Sanches. The 2016 winner went from a big-money move to Bayern Munich to a poor loan spell to Swansea to signing for Lille in Ligue 1.
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At 23, the midfielder still has time to turn it around but it's hard to believe he'll ever live up to the promise he showed when he burst into the Portugal team for Euro 2016.
SPORTbible's full TierMaker listing for all 18 Golden Boy winners is below.
GOAT: Lionel Messi
Legend: Sergio Aguero, Wayne Rooney, Cesc Fabregas
Future Legend: Kylian Mbappe, Erling Haaland, Raheem Sterling
Overrated: Paul Pogba, Mario Gotze, Rafael van der Vaart, Isco
Still Time: Matthijs de Ligt, Joao Felix, Anthony Martial
Flop: Mario Balotelli, Alexandre Pato, Anderson
Total Failure: Renato Sanches
Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Imagery: PA Images/TierMaker
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