What is NXGN? Previous winners, NXGN Nine & everything you need to know

Gavi Linda Caicedo NXGN Nine GFX
Sara Gordon (FCB)/GOAL
Everything you need to know about the prestigious award for football's best wonderkids

Who is going to be the next big thing in football? Where is the next Lionel Messi coming from? Will we ever see another player like Cristiano Ronaldo? These are perennial questions that occupy and delight football fans across the world.

Wonderkids - the best young talents around - intrigue and excite supporters, with plenty taking a keen interest in how a precocious teenage star's career might turn out. That's what NXGN is all about.

GOAL brings you everything you need to know about the prestigious prize, previous winners and more.

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What is NXGN?

NXGN is a list of the best young players aged 19 or under in football for a particular season. Established in 2016, the men's NXGN category features the top 50 wonderkids, with the player at the top of the list crowned the winner between 2016-2022. The women's edition of NXGN was established in 2020, and has grown from a list of 10 players to 25 in 2023.

How is the NXGN list decided?

The players on the NXGN lists are decided by football experts from around the world, led by NXGN's youth football specialists, who monitor the best wonderkids in football all year round.

What is the NXGN Nine?

In 2023, instead of their being one NXGN winner for each list, instead there will be nine: The NXGN Nine. These nine players are regarded as elite talents who have the potential to go on and become world-class footballers as they continue to develop. They each receive an award from NXGN to mark their achievement.

Alejandro Garnacho NXGN Nine Award

List of previous NXGN winners

You can see the male and female NXGN winners since 2016 below:

NXGN men's winners

2016Youri TielemansBreel EmboloGianluigi Donnarumma
2017Gianluigi DonnarummaKylian MbappeChristian Pulisic
2018Justin KluivertGianluigi DonnarummaVinicius Jr
2019Jadon SanchoVinicius JrCallum Hudson-Odoi.
2020RodrygoAnsu FatiMason Greenwood
2021Ansu FatiEduardo CamavingaGio Reyna
2022Jude BellinghamFlorian WirtzGavi

Youri Tielemans won the inaugural NXGN crown in 2016. Then an Anderlecht player, Tielemans won the prize ahead of Breel Embolo and Gianluigi Donnarumma. The following year, Donnarumma claimed the NXGN title, with Kylian Mbappe and Christian Pulisic finishing second and third, respectively.

Justin Kluivert was the winner of the 2018 NXGN, with Donnarumma finishing as runner-up for the second time, while Vinicius Jr was third. In 2019, England's Jadon Sancho won NXGN, with Vinicius Jr and Callum Hudson-Odoi completing the top three.

You can see the full list of men's NXGN winners in the table above.

NXGN women's winners

2020Lena OberdorfJordyn HuitemaClaudia Pina
2021Hanna BennisonNikita TrompAlison Gonzalez
2022Melchie DumornayMary FowlerHaley Bugeja

Lena Oberdorf was the winner of the first women's NXGN award in 2020, with Jordyn Huitema and Claudia Pina following close behind the German talent. Swedish youngster Hanna Bennison won the following year in 2021, while Haiti star Melchie Dumornay was crowned NXGN winner in 2022.