Hit Or Miss? Rating The Success Of ‘Golden Boy’ Winners Since 2003, Including Messi, Fabregas & Aguero

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Lionel Messi AlbaceteDid previous young players of the year make it?

Since 2003, sports journalists vote every year for the ‘Golden Boy’ – the most impressive young player of each season. It is always hard to know which players will make it and which won’t, with some fulfilling their tremendous potential and peaking early, while others look great initially but fade into obscurity with the pressure of a move to a bigger club and other factors.

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Here’s a look at previous winners, and it seems that the Golden Boy is a fairly good judge of talent – with most of these players becoming true stars of the future, though there are some exceptions!

2003 – Rafael van der Vaart

Rafael Van Der Vaart Hamburger SV

Superb at his first club Ajax, but Rafael van der Vaart has never quite become the world class great that he looked like becoming. The Dutch playmaker made the surprise move to Hamburg when he left Amsterdam, and then quickly made his eagerly-anticipated move to a bigger club when he joined Real Madrid in 2008. Still, he arguably flopped at the Bernabeu before being offloaded to Tottenham Hotspur. It is arguably in the Premier League that van der Vaart hit the best form of his career, though he only spent two seasons at White Hart Lane before returning to Hamburg. Not an awful career by any means, but not what it could have been.

Verdict: MISS

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2004 – Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney Manchester United

After first bursting onto the scene as a 16-year-old with a stunning winning goal for Everton against Arsenal, it has all gone fairly swimmingly for Wayne Rooney. After taking the international stage by storm at Euro 2004, the England international then made the big-money move to Manchester United. Ten years, 452 appearances, 221 goals, and 12 major honours later, it cannot really be disputed that Rooney has been a huge success at Old Trafford, even if there have been one or two ups and downs along the way.

Verdict: HIT

2005 – Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi Barcelona

Needless to say, this proved a wise choice as a certain young Argentine called Lionel Messi took the prize in 2005. The skillful forward has spent his entire career so far with Barcelona, winning a whole host of major honours with the club and establishing himself as probably the best ever player to play the game. Messi’s immense potential seems to know no bounds as he continues to break records and set new landmarks week after week, showing no sign of slowing down.

Verdict: HIT

2006 – Cesc Fabregas

Cesc Fabregas Chelsea

Since Cesc Fabregas had already been an Arsenal regular and key player since 2004, this award in 2006 wasn’t exactly the boldest prediction, but there’s no doubt the Spanish playmaker is another who really lived up to the hype and showed himself to be one of the top players in th world throughout his career. Although things didn’t quite work out for him back at Barcelona, Fabregas is now in immense form for Chelsea and has to be one of the finest creative midfield players of the modern era.

Verdict: HIT

2007 – Sergio Aguero

Sergio Aguero Man City

One of the best strikers in the world at the moment, Sergio Aguero has certainly fulfilled his amazing potential, consistently delivering the goods at the top level since he was a teenager. The Argentine looks to be reaching his peak now, which is a frightening prospect for a player who has already played a decisive role in two Premier League title wins among other successes.

Verdict: HIT

2008 – Anderson

Anderson Man United

Oh dear. Despite a great start at Manchester United, things never really took off for Anderson, who first caught the eye as a superb young prospect at Porto. The Brazilian midfielder looked to have the world at his feet with a great engine, superb natural ability and a good team around him, but he completely lost his way and is now seen as lazy, overweight, unfit and not needed at Old Trafford. An exit in January seems likely, but the Red Devils reportedly can’t find a buyer for him even at a knock-down price.

Verdict: MISS

2009 – Alexandre Pato

Alexandre Pato Sao Paulo

Another player who lost his way despite showing so much promise, Alexandre Pato looked absolutely superb when he first broke onto the scene at AC Milan, though he is now embarking on somrthing of a journeyman career back in his native Brazil, unable to find himself a move to a bigger club.

Verdict: MISS

2010 – Mario Balotelli

Mario Balotelli Liverpool

A player who divides opinion and has time to turn things around, but at the moment it must be said that Mario Balotelli has to fall into the flop category after failing to really make the most of his great natural ability. Attitude problems have plagued him throughout his career, and he has already moved around between Inter Milan, Manchester City, AC Milan and now back to the Premier League this season for Liverpool, for whom he has been absolutely dreadful. It’s hard to see the Italian getting past his problems and he looks like becoming a big disappointment.

Verdict: MISS

2011 – Mario Gotze

Mario Gotze Bayern Munich Roma

A little early to say as we get into the more recent winners, but Bayern Munich and Germany star Mario Gotze arguably has a list of achievements to his name to already suggest he has been a hit. The former Borussia Dortmund attacker looks like improving all the time, taking confidence from his superb winning goal in the World Cup final against Argentina this summer, which may be the start of a truly memorable career.

Verdict: HIT

2012 – Isco

Isco Real Madrid

Despite a slow start since his big move to Real Madrid, Isco has finally grown into his role at the club and looks more and more like the exciting young talent we saw at previous club Malaga. The 22-year-old will surely only improve further, but with a Champions League win under his belt and regular playing time alongside world greats such as Cristiano Ronaldo, he is well on the way to success.

Verdict: HIT

2013 – Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba Juventus Chelsea

Last year’s winner, Paul Pogba is still only 21 years old and at the start of his carerer, but it seems safe to say that he truly looks like being the real deal. The Frenchman is an outstanding talent with outrageous skills and long-range wondergoals in his locker, and he has already helped himself to two Serie A title wins since failing to make the grade at Manchester United, becoming a highly valuable player in this superb Juventus side.

Verdict: HIT