Brazil's Neymar celebrates after scoring against Scotland during the International friendly at the Emirates Stadium. March 2011.

Where are they now? 16 wonderkids from FIFA 11: Neymar, Hazard, Gotze

Apart from looking into a crystal ball, playing FIFA is often the best way to discover the next superstars in world football.

While the game has correctly predicted the future success of several great players over the years, not every player lives up to their potential.

After the Twitter page Football Talent Scout identified the 16 teenagers with the highest potential in FIFA 11, we’ve decided to look at how these players have fared since.

Christian Eriksen

Ajax are renowned for developing some of the very best talents in European football and Eriksen enjoyed an impressive breakthrough season in 2010-11.

After winning three consecutive Eredivisie titles, he moved to Tottenham for just £11.5million in 2013 and developed into one of the best playmakers in the world.

The midfielder spent six and a half years in north London before moving to Inter Milan, where he won the Serie A in 2020-21.

But he was released by Inter after being implanted with an internal defibrillator following his cardiac arrest at Euro 2020.

The Denmark international is refusing to hang up his boots just yet and has been heavily linked with a return to the Premer League, with Brentford reportedly offering him a six-month contract.

“My goal is to play in the World Cup in Qatar. I want to play,” Eriksen told Danish outlet DR. “That’s been my mindset all along. It’s a goal, a dream. Whether I’ll be picked is another thing. But it’s my dream to come back.

“I’m sure I can come back because I don’t feel any different. Physically, I’m back in top shape. That’s been my goal and it’s still some time away, so until then I’m just going to play football and prove that I’m back at the same level.”

Romelu Lukaku

Despite only being 17 when FIFA 11 was released, Lukaku had already scored over 20 goals for Anderlecht’s first team.

The Belgium international moved to Chelsea in 2011 but failed to score in 15 appearances for the club before being shipped off to Everton three years later.

After a difficult spell at Manchester United, he moved to Inter in 2019 and developed into one of the best strikers in the world, playing a key part in their 2020-21 Scudetto win.

Lukaku then returned to Chelsea in a £97.5million deal, but he doesn’t seem too happy about that…

Mario Gotze

A Golden Boy winner in 2011, Gotze starred for Jurgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund before completing a £31.5million move to Bayern Munich in 2013.

The Germany international won another three Bundesliga titles in the following three seasons but failed to nail down a starting spot under Pep Guardiola.

He unsuccessfully tried to rediscover his best form during his second spell at Dortmund and joined Eredivisie side PSV on a free transfer in 2020.

While Gotze’s career has not quite gone as expected, not many players can say they’ve scored the winning goal in a World Cup final.


The PSG forward is now the most expensive player in the history of football so it’s fair to say he’s lived up to the hype.

Sergio Canales

After impressing at Racing Santander, Canales was snapped up by Real Madrid in February 2010 but made just 15 appearances during his time at the club.

The attacking midfielder has since remained in Spain, enjoying spells at Valencia and Real Sociedad before joining Real Betis in 2018.

He’s been one of Betis’ standout performers in recent seasons and recently signed a new contract with a €1billion release clause.

Jack Wilshere

Wilshere enjoyed an outstanding breakthrough season with Arsenal in 2010-11, culminating in THAT Champions League performance against Barcelona.

But he’s been unable to replicate performances like that too often as a series of injury problems have derailed the midfielder’s career.

The 30-year-old is without a club after being released by Bournemouth in 2021 and is currently training with Arsenal as he plots his next move.

“I 100% think I can still play,” Wilshere told the BBC in November 2021. “I don’t care what people say or write or what they say on social media. I am an honest guy. If I didn’t think I could, I would be the first to say ‘enough, I am going to do something else’.

“But I am almost at the point where I think something different, abroad, might be beneficial to me.”

Jack Wilshere is marked by Xavi and Lionel Messi as Arsenal play Barcelona at the Emirates Stadium. February 2011.

READ: A forensic analysis of Jack Wilshere’s stunning 2011 CL display v Barcelona

Federico Macheda

Macheda burst onto the scene with that goal against Aston Villa in April 2009 and instantly became a cult hero at Manchester United.

“To this moment, it remains the best football day of my life,” Macheda told ESPN in 2017. “I woke up and I was on the front page of newspapers all around the world.

“My friends were calling me from Rome and crying down the phone. I went into training and all the staff were high-fiving me and saying well done.”

But he never hit the same heights again and was released in 2014 after a series of unsuccessful loan spells.

The striker now finds himself playing for Panathinaikos in Greece, where he’s scored more goals than he managed in all of his previous clubs combined.

READ: Revisiting Federico Macheda’s title-deciding Man Utd debut in 2009


Once regarded as the next Lionel Messi, Bojan scored 34 goals in his first three campaigns in the Barcelona first-team and was even given the No.9 shirt ahead of 2010-11.

But he netted just seven goals in 37 appearances in all competitions that season before joining Serie A side Roma for a fee in the region of €12million.

The Spain international returned to the Camp Nou two years later, only to be immediately loaned out to Ajax and then sold to Stoke City in 2014.

After five years at Stoke and a brief spell in the MLS, Bojan joined Japanese side Vissel Kobe in August 2021 and reunited with former Barcelona team-mate Andres Iniesta.

Jeffrey Bruma

After joining Chelsea from Feyenoord as a youth player in 2007, Bruma made his senior debut at the age of 17 in 2009 but it was one of just 10 appearances for the club.

The defender had loan spells at Leicester and Hamburg before eventually returning to the Netherlands to play for PSV in 2013.

He made over 120 appearances during his three years at the club, winning back-to-back Eredivisie titles in 2015 and 2016.

Netherlands international Bruma then had a less successful stint at Wolfsburg before joining Turkish side Kasimpasa in 2021.

Jano Ananidze

Once dubbed the new Georgi Kinkladze, Ananidze came through the ranks at Spartak Moscow and was once linked with Europe’s biggest clubs.

“There’s been interest from other countries,” he told Russian outlet Championat in 2019. “I recently found out that an offer came from Arsenal, but they didn’t even tell me about it.

“But from those requests that are known, I will highlight Valencia. But Spartak decided that I did not leave.”

The midfielder made 131 appearances for Spartak and won one Russian Premier League title in 2016-17 before later being released in January 2020.

After brief spells at Anorthosis Famagusta and Rotor Volgograd, he returned to his native Georgia with Dinamo Tbilisi in 2021.

Daniel Villalva

Villalva became the youngest River Plate player to feature in a league match when he made his debut at the age of 16 in February 2009.

He never moved to Europe but helped his boyhood club win the league title in 2014 before enjoying spells in Mexico and Brazil.

The 29-year-old recently became a free agent after leaving Paraguayian side Guaraní in January 2022 and has admitted that he wants to return to River.


After joining United from Fluminense in 2008, Rafael eventually usurped Gary Neville as their first-choice right-back and became a fan favourite at Old Trafford.

But the defender was deemed surplus to requirements by Louis van Gaal and was sold to Lyon in the summer of 2015.

“In his first season, Van Gaal called me to his office and said: ‘You can leave. The meeting lasted one minute,” Rafael told ESPN in 2018.

“That was it: ‘You can leave.’ It took time for me to go, but I was desperate to leave when I did, and that saddens me because I loved everything about Manchester United.”

The 31-year-old spent five years with the Ligue 1 side and also had a brief spell at Istanbul Basaksehir before moving back to his native Brazil with Botafogo in 2021.

READ: A tribute to Rafael, an embodiment of Man Utd’s Sir Alex Ferguson era


Signed alongside his twin brother Rafael, Fabio was initially regarded as the brighter prospect and even started the 2011 Champions League final against Barcelona.

But he struggled to establish himself as a first-team regular at United due to Patrice Evra’s form and was sold in 2014.

The full-back had spells at Cardiff City and Middlesbrough before joining Ligue 1 side Nantes in 2018, where he remains to this day.

Davide Santon

Once tipped as the “heir to Maldini” by Marcello Lippi, Santon broke into the Inter Milan team under Jose Mourinho and made 15 appearances in their treble-winning campaign.

But his career at Inter faltered after Mourinho’s departure, and the defender was sold to Newcastle United in 2011.

The 31-year-old returned to the San Siro for a second spell in January 2015 before joining fellow Serie A side Roma in 2018.

Philippe Coutinho

Coutinho completed his move to Inter Milan in 2010 but made just 28 Serie A appearances before moving to Liverpool in January 2013.

The Brazil international went from strength to strength during his five years at Anfield and was signed by Barcelona in a £142million deal.

He has failed to justify that price tag at Camp Nou but did win the treble during a loan spell at Bayern Munich, where he famously scored twice against his parent club.

The 29-year-old joined Aston Villa on loan in January 2022 and marked his debut with a late equaliser against Manchester United.

Eden Hazard

After starring for Lille, Hazard became one of Europe’s most highly-rated young players and ultimately joined Chelsea in 2012.

The Belgium international developed into one of the best players in the world, winning two Premier League titles, two Europa Leagues and the FA Cup at Stamford Bridge.

He completed his long-anticipated move to Real Madrid in 2019 but is yet to recapture his Chelsea form, scoring just five goals in his first two and a half years at the club.

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