NXGN: Gio Reyna, Ansu Fati and where 2021's best wonderkids are now

GOAL selected the 50 best footballing talents from around the world born on or after January 1, 2002 – but are they living up to their potential?

Since NXGN's introduction in 2016, GOAL has profiled the 50 best footballing wonderkids on the planet on an annual basis, with the top-ranked player taking home the NXGN award.

Some of those recognised for their talent as teenagers are now household names, but others have not yet realised their potential.

So, after the NXGN 2023 list was revealed on Tuesday, March 21, check out where the stars of 2021 are now:

Every NXGN list

Dembele, Tielemans & 2016's best wonderkids

Mbappe, Donnarumma & 2017's best wonderkids

De Ligt, Kluivert & 2018's best wonderkids

Haaland, Sancho & 2019's best wonderkids

Saka, Rodrygo & 2020's best wonderkids

Oberdorf, Huitema & 2020's best women's wonderkids

Bennison, Tromp & 2021's best women's wonderkids

Bellingham, Musiala & 2022's best wonderkids

Dumornay, Fowler & 2022's best women's wonderkids

Gavi, Garnacho & 2023's best wonderkids

Thompson, Caicedo & 2023's best women's wonderkids

  1. Ilaix Moriba | Barcelona
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    #50 Ilaix Moriba | Barcelona

    2021: Having been likened to Paul Pogba at La Masia, Moriba had broken into the Barcelona first team at the start of 2021 and was impressing under Ronald Koeman.

    2022: A contract dispute in the summer of 2021 led to Moriba joining RB Leipzig for €16m, though game time was hard to come by in Germany, and he was loaned to Valencia in January in a bid to earn more minutes.

    2023: Moriba did enough for Valencia to extend his loan for another season, though he has been in and out of the line up for the struggling Spanish side this season.

  2. Takuhiro Nakai | Real Madrid
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    #49 Takuhiro Nakai | Real Madrid

    2021: The Japanese starlet had already been called-up to train with the Real Madrid first team on more than one occasion having caught Zinedine Zidane's eye.

    2022: Nakai continued to develop with Madrid's Under-19s side, with hopes still high that he will make the grade at Santiago Bernabeu.

    2023: The midfielder made his debut for Real Madrid Castilla in October 2022, but has otherwise remained in the youth ranks so far this season.

  3. Maarten Vandevoordt | Genk
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    #48 Maarten Vandevoordt | Genk

    2021: The youngest goalkeeper in Champions League history, Vandevoordt was establishing himself as the undisputed No.1 at Genk, following in the footsteps of his hero, Thibaut Courtois.

    2022: Vandevoordt remained one of the most highly-rated shot-stoppers in world football, and RB Leipzig decided to jump to the front of the queue to sign him by agreeing a deal of around €10m to bring him to Germany in 2024.

    2023: Now 21, Vandevoordt continues to impress for Genk as his move to Leipzig draws ever closer.

  4. Jayden Braaf | Manchester City
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    #47 Jayden Braaf | Manchester City

    2021: Previously likened to Jadon Sancho, Braaf had joined Udinese on loan in January 2021 as he looked to kickstart his career after suffering from injuries and a dip in form.

    2022: The ex-Ajax youngster's time in Italy was cut short after he suffered a serious knee injury, and he did not make an appearance for City in 2021-22 before he was released and picked up on a free by Borussia Dortmund.

    2023: Braaf did not feature for Dortmund's first team before joining Hellas Verona on loan in January 2023.

  5. Kenneth Taylor | Ajax
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    #46 Kenneth Taylor | Ajax

    2021: Taylor was edging his way into the Ajax senior squad, with the Toni Kroos-esque midfielder having been hailed for both his technical ability and his leadership.

    2022: A regular in Erik ten Hag's matchday squad, Taylor only made sporadic first-team appearances in 2021-22, though he did manage to net his first top-flight goal.

    2023: With Ryan Gravenberch having left, Taylor has taken his place in the Ajax line up over the course of the season.

  6. Radu Dragusin | Juventus
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    #45 Radu Dragusin | Juventus

    2021: Nicknamed 'the Romanian Van Dijk', Dragusin had made appearances in both Serie A and the Champions League for Juventus.

    2022: Dragusin joined Sampdoria on loan ahead of the 2021-22 season and despite breaking into the team around the turn of the year, had his stay cut short so he could instead sign for Salernitana for the remainder of the campaign.

    2023: The centre-back was again loaned out for the current season, joining Serie B outfit Genoa, who made his move permanent for €6m in March.

  7. Joelson Fernandes | Sporting C.P.
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    #44 Joelson Fernandes | Sporting C.P.

    2021: Arsenal were among the elite European clubs who were being linked with Joelson, who made his first-team debut for Sporting towards the end of the 2019-20 season.

    2022: The winger joined FC Basel on a two-year loan deal ahead of the 2021-22 season, but was largely limited to appearances off the bench.

    2023: Joelson's loan in Switzerland was cut short in September 2022, and has been part of the Sporting B squad in the third tier of Portuguese football.

  8. Exequiel Zeballos | Boca Juniors
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    #43 Exequiel Zeballos | Boca Juniors

    2021: Zeballos had been linked with both Barcelona and Manchester City after impressing the likes of Daniele De Rossi with his ability and confidence, having stepped up to the Boca first-team squad.

    2022: The winger earned a first Argentina call-up in November, and impressed in the opening weeks of the campaign before a broken leg suffered in August 2022 ended his campaign.

    2023: Zeballos continues to be linked with a move to a top European club, though a knee injury suffered in February has forced him back onto the sidelines at Boca.

  9. Sontje Hansen | Ajax
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    #42 Sontje Hansen | Ajax

    2021: The Golden Boot winner at the 2019 Under-17 World Cup, Hansen had been linked with a move to Manchester City before signing a new deal at Ajax following his first-team debut.

    2022: Injuries and family issues hit Hansen's mental health hard in the final months of 2021, but having opened up about his struggles, he began to hint at a return to form with Jong Ajax.

    2023: Hansen has remained key part of the Jong Ajax squad, earning experience in the second tier of Dutch football.

  10. Talles Magno | Vasco da Gama
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    #41 Talles Magno | Vasco da Gama

    2021: Heralded for his skills and tricks, Talles had been linked with Liverpool and Real Madrid after becoming a regular in the Vasco da Gama line up over the previous 12 months.

    2022: In May 2021, the forward joined New York City FC in a $12m deal and scored some crucial goals as they won the MLS Cup. He backed that up by becoming one of the top young forwards in MLS in 2022, providing eight goals and eight assists.

    2023: Talles has again been linked with a move to Europe as the 2023 MLS season gets up and running.

  11. Lorenzo Colombo | AC Milan
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    #40 Lorenzo Colombo | AC Milan

    2021: A striker with a rocket of a left foot, Colombo had averaged a goal every 33 minutes for Milan's Under-19s in 2019-20 before earning his first-team debut. He was spending the second half of the 2020-21 campaign on loan in Serie B with Cremonese.

    2022: Colombo remained in the second tier, playing on loan at SPAL, where he started well but scored the last of his six league goals in October 2021.

    2023: The striker is this season on loan at newly-promoted Serie A side Lecce, where he has scored some key goals in their bid to avoid relegation.

  12. Luka Romero | Mallorca
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    #39 Luka Romero | Mallorca

    2021: The youngest debutant in La Liga history after making his bow as a 15-year-old against Real Madrid in June 2020, Romero had been dubbed 'The Mexican Messi', despite opting to represent Argentina over the land of his birth.

    2022: Lazio paid a minimal fee to sign Romero in the summer of 2021 and he made a handful of Serie A appearances during his first season in Italy.

    2023: Romero did not make his first Serie A appearance of the season until November, but has begun earning more minutes during the second half of the campaign.

  13. Timothee Pembele | Paris Saint-Germain
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    #38 Timothee Pembele | Paris Saint-Germain

    2021: Having captained France at youth level, Pembele had broken into the PSG first-team squad, and even scored his first Ligue 1 goal.

    2022: The versatile defender joined Bordeaux on loan for the 2021-22 season, and was an almost ever-present at right-back before suffering a serious knee injury in April that ruled him out for the reminder of 2022.

    2023: Pembele has been reintegrated back into the PSG squad since the turn of the year, but is predominantly a back-up option.

  14. Devyne Rensch | Ajax
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    #37 Devyne Rensch | Ajax

    2021: Able to play in any position across the defence, Rensch had become a fixture in the Ajax first-team squad over the course of the 2020-21 season.

    2022: After making his Netherlands debut in September 2021, Rensch appeared regularly over the course of the season, albeit mostly as a substitute.

    2023: Rensch has established himself in the Ajax line up over the course of 2022-23, becoming the club's starting right-back.

  15. Eduardo Quaresma | Sporting C.P.
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    #36 Eduardo Quaresma | Sporting C.P.

    2021: Teams in England, Spain and Italy were all reported to be keeping tabs on Quaresma after he had impressed during his first few appearances in the Sporting first team.

    2022: The centre-back joined Tondela on loan for the 2021-22 season, where he was in and out of the line up for the Primeira Liga outfit. He was then loaned out again in the summer of 2022, joining Hoffenheim.

    2023: Quaresma has struggled to establish himself in Germany, and has played for Hoffenheim's reserves more often than he has the first team.

  16. Yan Couto | Manchester City
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    #35 Yan Couto | Manchester City

    2021: Manchester City beat Barcelona to the signing of Couto in the winter of 2020, paying £5m for his services before sending him on loan to Girona for the 2021-22 season.

    2022: Having been named in the Segunda Division Team of the Season, the right-back spent the 2021-22 campaign in Portugal, playing regularly for Braga in the top flight.

    2023: Couto returned on loan to Girona ahead of the current campaign, but has been in and out of the line up in La Liga.

  17. Arnaud Kalimuendo | Paris Saint-Germain
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    #34 Arnaud Kalimuendo | Paris Saint-Germain

    2021: Kalimuendo was spending the 2020-21 season on loan at Lens, where he was thriving, scoring seven goals and laying on five assists in Ligue 1 over the course of the campaign.

    2022: The striker returned to Lens in August 2021 and netted 12 Ligue 1 goals, with that form convincing Rennes to pay €20m to sign him from PSG the following summer.

    2023: Kalimuendo has been Rennes' first-choice striker in 2022-23, and has already reached double-figures for direct goal contributions for his new club.

  18. Ki-Jana Hoever | Wolverhampton Wanderers
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    #33 Ki-Jana Hoever | Wolverhampton Wanderers

    2021: Despite becoming the youngest player to represent Liverpool in the FA Cup as a 16-year-old, Hoever had found further opportunities hard to come by at Anfield, before joining Wolves for £9m in the summer of 2020. At Molineux, he was being used as a rotational member of the defence.

    2022: The ex-Ajax youngster performed a similar role under Bruno Lage, who criticised Hoever for a lack of preparation that led to a mid-season injury. The defender was then loaned to PSV ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.

    2023: PSV cut Hoever's loan short in January after he made just seven first-team appearances in Eindhoven. He was then loaned to Championship side Stoke City in January 2023.

  19. Filip Stevanovic | Manchester City
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    #32 Filip Stevanovic | Manchester City

    2021: The third-youngest player in Partizan history, Man City had agreed to pay £6m to sign Stevanovic late in 2020, before sending him on loan back to his boyhood club for the remainder of the campaign.

    2022: The forward spent the 2021-22 campaign on loan at Heerenveen, but scored just once in Eredivisie as he fell out of favour in the second half of the season.

    2023: Stevanovic is currently on loan at Santa Clara in Portugal, but has been a bit-part player at best for the top-flight outfit.

  20. Riccardo Calafiori | Roma
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    #31 Riccardo Calafiori | Roma

    2021: Calafiori had recovered from a potentially career-ending injury suffered in 2018 to force his way into the first-team picture at Roma, and he had already announced himself with a stunning goal in the Europa League.

    2022: Having only made a handful of appearances during the first half of the 2021-22 season, the left-back joined Genoa on loan in January, but only made three appearances for them due to injuries.

    2023: Calafiori joined Basel on a permanent deal in the summer of 2022, and has been a regular starter for the Swiss side.

  21. Brian Brobbey | Ajax
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    #30 Brian Brobbey | Ajax

    2021: Brobbey was likened to Romelu Lukaku during his youth career due to his physical stature and ability in front of goal, and RB Leipzig had already agreed to sign him in the summer of 2021 after he rejected a new deal at Ajax.

    2022: The striker struggled to make an impact in Germany and returned to Ajax on loan in January, where he scored seven goals in 11 league appearances before making the move permanent in a €16m deal.

    2023: Brobbey has been in and out of the Ajax line up in 2022-23, but has managed to reach double-figures for league goals.

  22. Isaac Lihadji | Lille
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    #29 Isaac Lihadji | Lille

    2021: A star for France at the 2019 Under-17 World Cup, Lihadji had been linked with Manchester United before leaving Marseille for Lille in the summer of 2021 following a contract dispute.

    2022: Lihadji continued to make sporadic appearances in 2021-22 and managed to score his first professional goal in January 2022.

    2023: After not making a first-team appearance during the first half of the 2022-23 season, Lihadji left Lille to join Sunderland, but has struggled to make an impact in the Championship as yet.

  23. Noni Madueke | PSV
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    #28 Noni Madueke | PSV

    2021: Madueke left Tottenham in 2018, rejecting a move to Manchester United to join PSV in a bid to earn first-team minutes. It was a move that was paying off, too, as he scored nine goals and laid on eight assists in his first full Eredivisie season.

    2022: The England Under-21 international made a fast start to the 2021-22 season, scoring some stunning goals, only for a recurring muscle injury to rule him out of action on multiple occasions throughout the campaign.

    2023: An ankle injury meant that Madueke only played five times in the first half of the Eredivisie season, but that did not put off Chelsea from spending £28.5m to sign him in January.

  24. Karim Adeyemi | Red Bull Salzburg
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    #27 Karim Adeyemi | Red Bull Salzburg

    2021: Released by Bayern Munich at an early age, Adeyemi opted to join Salzburg over Chelsea when he turned 16, and he was gradually earning more and more first-team minutes while contributing both goals and assists off the bench.

    2022: Break out he has this season, earning himself a Germany debut in the process after scoring 23 goals in all competitions. That convinced Borussia Dortmund to pay €38m to sign him to help replace the departing Erling Haaland.

    2023: After a slow start to the season, Adeyemi was beginning to find some form in early 2023 before suffering a hamstring injury in mid-February.

  25. Harvey Elliott | Liverpool
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    #26 Harvey Elliott | Liverpool

    2021: After becoming the youngest player in Premier League history in the spring of 2019, Liverpool moved quickly to sign the Fulham youngster that summer. Elliott was spending the 2020-21 season impressing on loan at Blackburn Rovers in the Championship.

    2022: The midfielder forced himself into Liverpool's line-up to start the season, only for a horrific ankle injury to rule him out for five months. Upon his return, he scored his first goal for the club in February.

    2023: Elliott has been in and out of the line up during a difficult season for Liverpool, but he looks set to be staple of the team as the Reds plan for a squad overhaul.

  26. Sebastiano Esposito | Inter
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    #25 Sebastiano Esposito | Inter

    2021: One of the stars of Italy's run to the Under-17s European Championship final in 2019, Esposito had already scored his first goal for the Inter first team after becoming their youngest-ever player in European competition. He was spending the second half of the 2020-21 season on loan at Venezia, after struggling at SPAL in late 2020.

    2022: Esposito made a brilliant start to live in Switzerland, scoring in four of his first five league appearances, but a series of injuries made putting a run of consistent games together difficult.

    2023: The forward spent the first half of the 2022-23 season on loan at Anderlecht, but scored just one league goal before returning to Italy to join Serie B side Bari, again on loan.

  27. Dario Sarmiento | Estudiantes
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    #24 Dario Sarmiento | Estudiantes

    2021: Sarmiento had earned comparisons to Lionel Messi in his native Argentina after thrilling Estudiantes fans with his dribbling ability during his early appearances for the club.

    2022: Manchester City swooped in to pay an initial £5.2m to sign Sarmiento in the summer of 2021, before loaning him to Girona for the season. Injuries have, however, limited him to just nine league appearances.

    2023: Sarmiento is back at City having spent the first half of the 2022-23 season on loan at Montevideo City Torque, though he failed to make an appearance in Uruguay.

  28. Nuno Mendes | Sporting C.P.
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    #23 Nuno Mendes | Sporting C.P.

    2021: The left-back had already become the youngest player to start a match for Sporting since Cristiano Ronaldo and was playing a key role as Ruben Amorim's side closed in on the Portuguese title.

    2022: Mendes got his title-winner's medal, before agreeing a move to Paris Saint-Germain that was initially a loan before PSG agreed to pay €40m to make the deal permanent in the summer of 2022.

    2023: Injuries have plagued Mendes somewhat during his second season in Paris, but his pace and direct style remains a problem for opposition defenders.

  29. Adil Aouchiche | Saint-Etienne
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    #22 Adil Aouchiche | Saint-Etienne

    2021: Aouchiche made headlines in the summer of 2019 after scoring nine goals in just four games at the Under-17s European Championship, but found opportunities at Paris Saint-Germain limited, leading to him running down his contract and joining Saint-Etienne in the summer of 2020.

    2022: Aouchiche was largely a substitute during the 2021-22 campaign as they suffered relegation from Ligue 1, before he was allowed to join Lorient ahead of the following season.

    2023: The midfielder has struggled to establish himself in his new surroundings, and has been limited to cameos off the bench thus far in 2022-23.

  30. Adam Hlozek | Sparta Prague
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    #21 Adam Hlozek | Sparta Prague

    2021: Already a full Czech Republic international, Hlozek was in the midst of a season that would see him finish as the Fortuna Liga's top scorer, despite him missing over four months with a broken foot.

    2022: Despite being linked with teams in England and Germany, Hlozek stayed with Sparta for 2021-22, and reached double-figures for both goals and assists before finally leaving to join Bayer Leverkusen in a €13m deal.

    2023: After a slow start to life in Germany, Hlozek has looked back to his best since the turn of the year.

  31. Josko Gvardiol | Dinamo Zagreb
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    #20 Josko Gvardiol | Dinamo Zagreb

    2021: RB Leipzig had already agreed to pay €19m to sign Gvardiol in the summer of 2021, so impressed were they by the Dinamo Zagreb teenager's assured performances in a variety of defensive roles.

    2022: The Croatia international was a shining light for Leipzig in his first Bundesliga season, quickly developing into one of the league's best young centre-backs.

    2023: Gvardiol's performances at the World Cup, coupled with him taking another leap at Leipzig, has made the 21-year-old a player that every elite European club is being linked with ahead of the summer transfer window.

  32. Amad | Manchester United
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    #19 Amad | Manchester United

    2021: United raised eyebrows when they agreed to pay up to £37m to sign Amad from Atalanta in October 2020, but the Red Devils were keen to tap into the potential of a player who had become the youngest to ever score on their Serie A debut.

    2022: Amad found first-team opportunities hard to come by in his first 12 months at Old Trafford, and he joined Rangers on loan in January 2022, but made just 13 appearances in all competitions.

    2023: The forward is spending the 2022-23 season on loan at Sunderland, where he has been one of the top young performers in the Championship while scoring some stunning goals.

  33. Kaio Jorge | Santos
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    #18 Kaio Jorge | Santos

    2021: Having played a key role in Santos' run to the 2020 Copa Libertadores final, Kaio was earning admiring glances from a host of top European clubs.

    2022: Juventus won the race to sign the striker in the summer of 2021, paying €3m to bring him to Turin, but he made just nine Serie A appearances before suffering a season-ending knee injury in February 2022.

    2023: Kaio has not played competitively since that injury having only returned to training in February, and rumours have begun to swirl regarding a return to Brazil on loan.

  34. Fabio Silva | Wolverhampton Wanderers
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    #17 Fabio Silva | Wolverhampton Wanderers

    2021: Both the youngest player and goalscorer in Porto history, Silva was earning comparisons to Cristiano Ronaldo in his homeland before Wolves paid a club-record £35m to sign him in the summer of 2020.

    2022: With Jimenez back available, Silva tended to be used off the bench in 2021-22, and ended the campaign without a first-team goal, leading to him being loaned to Anderlecht in the summer of 2022.

    2023: Silva scored 11 goals in the first half of the season in Belgium, but was recalled by Wolves so he could instead be sent on loan to PSV in January to help replace the departed Cody Gakpo.

  35. Tanguy Nianzou | Bayern Munich
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    #16 Tanguy Nianzou | Bayern Munich

    2021: Described as the "greatest talent in Europe in his position" by Oliver Kahn, Bayern had signed Nianzou in the summer of 2020 after he decided to run down his contract at Paris Saint-Germain.

    2022: Injuries ruined Nianzou's first season in Germany, and though he managed to stay relatively fit in 2021-22, the defender was almost exclusively a substitute under Julian Nagelsmann.

    2023: Sevilla paid €16m to sign Nianzou in August, and he has grown into a regular starter at the Spanish side.

  36. Youssoufa Moukoko | Borussia Dortmund
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    #15 Youssoufa Moukoko | Borussia Dortmund

    2021: Moukoko had been spoken about as a potential superstar for years, having scored freely for both the St. Pauli and Dortmund youth teams, despite playing three or four years above his actual age. When he finally graduated to the first team in late 2020, he became the youngest player and goalscorer in Bundesliga history, as well as the Champions League's youngest-ever debutant.

    2022: Injuries have continued to plague Moukoko throughout the 2021-22 season as he started just once in the Bundesliga all campaign.

    2023: Moukoko is in the midst of his best season at senior level to date, for which he was rewarded with a World Cup call-up in December and a new contract in January amid interest from Chelsea and Barcelona. An ankle ligament injury suffered in February has, however, stalled his progress.

  37. Jeremy Doku | Rennes
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    #14 Jeremy Doku | Rennes

    2021: Previously a target for Liverpool, Doku shone after breaking through at Anderlecht, which in turn led to Rennes paying €26m to sign him in October 2020.

    2022: Doku's pace and power caught the eye while playing for Belgium at Euro 2020, but hamstring and knee injuries meant he missed the majority of the 2021-22 season.

    2023: The winger has again had to deal with injury problems in 2022-23, though he has shown some signs of getting back to his best in recent months.

  38. Yunus Musah | Valencia
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    #13 Yunus Musah | Valencia

    2021: Signed from the Arsenal academy in 2019, Musah had broken into the Valencia first team during the 2020-21 season, while also making his United States debut, despite representing England as a youth.

    2022: Musah continued to appear regularly at Mestalla, though he was not always a starter.

    2023: The midfielder has regained his place in the Valencia line up in 2022-23, while he continues to be a key piece for the USMNT after an impressive World Cup.

  39. Gabriel Veron | Palmeiras
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    #12 Gabriel Veron | Palmeiras

    2021: The Golden Ball winner at the 2019 Under-17 World Cup, Veron had already broken into the Palmeiras first team and played a key role in their run to win the 2020 Copa Libertadores, even if injury ruled him out of playing in the final.

    2022: The winger continued to be in and out of the Palmeiras team in the early weeks of the 2022 campaign, before Porto agreed to pay €10.25m to sign Veron.

    2023: Veron has largely been a substitute in his first season in Portugal as he gets to grips with the rigours of playing in Europe.

  40. Rayan Cherki | Lyon
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    #11 Rayan Cherki | Lyon

    2021: Already the youngest goalscorer in Lyon history, Cherki was beginning to make waves in French football having been touted as a potential generational talent throughout his youth career.

    2022: Though he found form in the Europa League and for France Under-21s, Cherki was not having the breakout season a number of fans were expecting before a broken foot ended his campaign early in February.

    2023: Cherki has fared better in 2022-23, even if his core attacking numbers don't reflect some of the excellent performances he has produced under Laurent Blanc.

  41. Reinier | Real Madrid
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    #10 Reinier | Real Madrid

    2021: The latest teenager to swap Brazil for the Bernabeu, Madrid paid €35m in January 2020 to sign the Flamengo playmaker, who had been likened to Kaka in South America. In the summer of 2020, he joined Borussia Dortmund on a two-year loan deal, but was struggling to make an impact in Germany.

    2022: Things did not improve for Reinier, as the Brazilian started just once in the Bundesliga during his second season at Dortmund, and he was sent on loan to Girona upon his return to Spain in the summer of 2022.

    2023: Injuries kept Reinier on the sidelines for much of the first half of the current season, and he has struggled to force his way into the line up in 2023.

  42. Mohamed Ihattaren | PSV
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    #9 Mohamed Ihattaren | PSV

    2021: One of Europe's best teenage creative midfielders, Ihattaren shone in the 2019-20 season, only to fall out with new PSV boss Roger Schmidt at the beginning of the following campaign.

    2022: Ihattaren never played a game in Serie A, and there were even reports that he would retire after he returned to Netherlands mid-season. He was signed on a year-long loan by Ajax in January 2022, but fitness issues meant that he played just four minutes in the first team before the end of the campaign.

    2023: Ajax cut short Ihattaren's loan amid reports he was being targeted by organised crime groups and he was arrested in November 2022. He remains on Juventus' books, but was arrested again in February on suspicion of assault. He has not appeared in a competitive football match in over 10 months.

  43. Jamal Musiala | Bayern Munich
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    #8 Jamal Musiala | Bayern Munich

    2021: Signed from Chelsea in the summer of 2019, Musiala had become the youngest player to ever represent Bayern in the Bundesliga around a year later and was impressing whenever he was given the chance to play for the German champions.

    2022: Musiala remained a key member of the Bayern squad and began to prove himself on the international stage after opting to represent Germany rather than England.

    2023: Musiala has exploded in 2022-23, and is arguably the front-runner for the Bundesliga's Player of the Season while becoming Germany's key attacker after an impressive World Cup.

  44. Ryan Gravenberch | Ajax
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    #7 Ryan Gravenberch | Ajax

    2021: After becoming Ajax's youngest-ever player in September 2018, Gravenberch was a regular in Erik ten Hag's side, a full Netherlands international and was being compared to Paul Pogba.

    2022: Though he was not always at his best in 2021-22, Bayern Munich made the decision to spend an initial €19m on the midfielder in the summer of 2022.

    2023: Gravenberch has struggled to force his way into Julian Nagelsmann's line up in Munich, with his lack of games leading to him being left out of the Netherlands' World Cup squad back in November.

  45. Florian Wirtz | Bayer Leverkusen
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    #6 Florian Wirtz | Bayer Leverkusen

    2021: Signed from Koln in January 2020, Wirtz had made an excellent start to life in the Leverkusen team, and was briefly the youngest goalscorer in Bundesliga history.

    2022: Wirtz went to a new level in 2021-22, registering some of the best numbers for combined goals and assists of any player in Europe's 'Big Five' leagues before a serious knee injury suffered in March ruled him out for the remainder of 2022.

    2023: Wirtz's return to action is going well, with the playmaker already racking up goals and assists in both the Bundesliga and Europa League.

  46. Jude Bellingham | Borussia Dortmund
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    #5 Jude Bellingham | Borussia Dortmund

    2021: Perhaps the most complete midfielder produced by England in 20 years, the ex-Birmingham City star was settling into life at Dortmund following his €25m move to Signal Iduna Park in the summer of 2020.

    2022: Bellingham went from strength to strength over the course of 2021-22, upping his goal and assist numbers considerably while becoming a leader on the pitch for the Bundesliga giants.

    2023: The midfielder has taken his game to another level yet again, becoming a starter for England and a vice-captain for Dortmund as Liverpool and Real Madrid prepare to battle over his signature this summer.

  47. Pedri | Barcelona
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    #4 Pedri | Barcelona

    2021: Pedri was making waves at Barcelona in his first season at Camp Nou following his €5m move from Las Palmas, with his relationship with Lionel Messi bearing plenty of fruit for the Blaugrana.

    2022: Pedri's hectic schedule, which also included the Olympic Games, eventually caught up with him, as a hamstring injury ruled him out for three-and-a-half months during the first half of the 2021-22 season. He returned in fine form, but suffered another similar injury in April that ended his campaign early.

    2023: The midfielder has been a star performer in Barca's revival this season, though he is currently recovering from another hamstring injury that he suffered in February.

  48. Gio Reyna | Borussia Dortmund
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    #3 Gio Reyna | Borussia Dortmund

    2021: As a young American learning his trade at Dortmund, it was only natural that Reyna would earn comparisons to Christian Pulisic, but the forward was living up to the hype.

    2022: The forward made just 10 Bundesliga appearances as his 2021-22 season was book-ended by muscle injuries.

    2023: Reyna made headlines when, after a disappointing World Cup, he was caught in the middle of a huge row between his family and the United States coaching staff. He has shaken it off, though, by producing from the bench in 2023.

  49. Eduardo Camavinga | Rennes
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    #2 Eduardo Camavinga | Rennes

    2021: Camavinga became an overnight star in August 2019 after a highlights clip went viral of the then-16-year-old putting in a dominant performance against Paris Saint-Germain. He was soon linked with a host of top European clubs, most notably Real Madrid, as he continued to shine in Ligue 1 while becoming a France international.

    2022: After scoring on his Madrid debut, Camavinga was largely a substitute during his first season in Spain, though he made some key contributions off the bench as Los Blancos won both La Liga and the Champions League.

    2023: Camavinga has been in and out of the Madrid line up in 2022-23, and has even been pressed into duty at left-back for both club and country.

  50. Ansu Fati | Barcelona
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    #1 Ansu Fati | Barcelona

    2021: Fati broke countless goalscoring records, including becoming the youngest ever player to find the net in the Champions League, after being promoted to the Barca first team in 2019. His performances earned him a first Spain cap, with many expecting him to be a star of Euro 2020 for La Roja.

    2022: Fati made just 10 league appearances the following year, as a hamstring injury kept him out of action for six months in the middle of the campaign.

    2023: Finally free of injuries, Fati has struggled to make much of an impact in 2022-23, leading to reports that he could leave Camp Nou this summer.