These were GOAL's top wonderkids from 2016

Where are they now? The 10 best wonderkids of 2016 according to GOAL

Since 2016, GOAL have been publishing the top 50 wonderkids of each year in their NXGN series, but where are the top 2016 prospects today?

Tipping youngsters for stardom can be a tricky task, especially as footballers don’t develop in a linear path. One bad injury or the wrong move at the wrong time is all that it takes to mess with a youngster’s career trajectory.

We’ve taken a closer look at the NXGN list from 2016 and have assessed where the top 10 wonderkids of that year are today.

10. Joe Gomez

The Liverpool defender suffered a major injury setback in 2016 as he missed a full year of action thanks to a nasty ACL injury. Thankfully, the injury didn’t hamper his progression too much in the end.

Often used as a squad player at Anfield, Gomez has really come into his own in the last few months. He’s done a fine job of filling in at left-back when required and is also a dependable centre-half.

With over 200 appearances at Liverpool under his belt, Gomez has justified the hype from his younger years. Still just 26 years old, he’s got time to improve even further.

9. Malcom

Back in 2016, Malcom had just made the switch from Corinthians to Bordeaux. A tricky Brazilian winger with a bag full of tricks, he was tipped to go to the very top.

During his early years, everything seemed to be going to plan. His excellent form in France earned him a big-money move to Barcelona, but that’s where his career hit the buffers.

Malcom only lasted one season at Camp Nou before he made the switch to Zenit in 2019. He continued to deliver the goods while playing in Russia, but you can’t help but feel that a player of his talent could have achieved more.

Last summer he made the switch to Suadi outfit Al-Hilal where he’s continued to look a level above the opposition. In 35 appearances, he’s produced an impressive 24 goal contributions for the Saudi Pro League club.

8. Renato Sanches

The hype levels surrounding Sanches back in the day were off the charts. Following his breakthrough from the Benfica academy as a teenager, he was immediately tipped for stardom.

He secured a big-money move to Bayern Munich in 2016, but his career never really took off from that point as was first anticipated.

Following some years on the bench at Bayern and an underwhelming loan spell with Swansea City, he worked on rebuilding his career with Lille between 2019 and 2022.

These days the 26-year-old is on the books at PSG, although he’s currently on loan with Roma. Injuries haven’t been kind to the 26-year-old, who has missed the bulk of this campaign with various knocks.

Lisboa's Renato Sanches in action during the Champions League quarter finals first leg soccer match between Bayern Munich and S.L. Benfica at Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany, 5 April 2016

READ: Paul Pogba: Revisiting the 5 alternatives Man Utd considered in 2016

7. Ante Coric

Dinamo Zagreb have produced plenty of gems over the years and Coric was all the hype back in 2016. The attacking midfielder made over 100 appearances for the Croatian club before making the move to Roma in 2018.

Unfortunately, the switch to Italy never really worked out. During his five-year stay at Roma, he only made three appearances and spent the bulk of his contract out on loan.

Aged 26, he’s now back playing in his native country for NK Rudes.

6. Gerson

The Brazilian midfielder had two separate stints in Europe with Roma and Marseille but has otherwise spent the bulk of his career playing in his native country.

Aged 26, he’s now back playing in Brazil for Flamengo after spending a year and a half in France.

5. Martin Odegaard

After making his Stromsgodset debut at 15 and Real Madrid debut at 16, there was an abundance of hype surrounding Odegaard throughout his teenage years.

While the attacking midfielder didn’t quite make the grade in Spain, he’s now considered as one of the best midfielders in the Premier League for Arsenal.

“My time at Madrid was good,” Odegaard told reporters last year. “It was a positive stage, although perhaps some might think otherwise.

“I learned a lot, I matured a lot and I was able to train with some of the best players in the world. But in the end, leaving was the best decision for me, I wanted to play more and continue growing.”

It’s fair to say that the switch to north London has worked out for the best. He now captains the Gunners and is competing for the biggest trophies on offer.

Martin Odegaard of Arsenal celebrates

QUIZ: Can you name Arsenal’s 30 most expensive signings ever?

4. Ruben Neves

Neves became the youngest-ever player to captain a team in the Champions League when he led Porto out as an 18-year-old in October 2015.

Considering they were a Championship club at the time, Wolves did well to prize him away from Porto in the summer of 2017. Following his £15.8million move, he spent the following six years with the midlands club and racked up over 250 appearances.

Despite several big European sides keeping tabs on him, he made the somewhat controversial switch to Al-Hilal in the summer. He more than quadrupled his wages in the process, but it’s a shame he’s no longer in Europe.

3. Gianluigi Donnarumma

Given that he’s already made over 350 professional appearances, it’s bonkers to think that Donnarumma is still just 25 years old. As a result of making his debut at 16, it feels as if he’s been around forever.

For club and country, he’s managed to get his hands on six trophies so far along with winning a host of individual awards too. Still going strong for PSG, the Italian shot-stopper is still considered as one of the best goalkeepers in the world.

2. Breel Embolo

On the back of a prolific breakthrough season with Basel, Embolo was linked with some of Europe’s biggest clubs as a teenager. His thunderous shot and lightning-quick pace made him one of Europe’s top prospects at the time.

Eventually, he joined Schalke, although that’s when his injury hell began. Since the start of the 2016–17 season, Embolo has missed over 130 matches through various injuries.

Now playing for Monaco, the 27-year-old is currently sidelined with an ACL injury. It’s a real shame that injuries have hampered such a talented player.

1. Youri Tielemans

The Belgian midfielder was dubbed as the most promising prospect of 2016 and for good reason. The Anderlecht academy graduate looked a cut above his peers at the time and he soon made a name for himself at Monaco too.

Tielemans spent the best years of his career with Leicester City and enjoyed plenty of good times with the Foxes. Undoubtedly, the highlight of his career was winning the FA Cup in 2021.

These days you can catch him playing for Premier League high-flyers Aston Villa. With the way Unai Emery’s men are going in the UEFA Europa Conference, we wouldn’t be surprised if he gets his hands on some more silverware this year.

READ NEXT: The 6 wonderkids with a greater potential than Kobbie Mainoo according to GOAL

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name Arsenal’s 20 youngest Premier League debutants?