Where Kluivert, Donnarumma and the world’s best teenagers will be playing in 10 years - according to Football Manager 2018

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The football management simulation predicts how the best young players in the world will develop and where they will end up in the future

Justin Kluivert has topped the 2018 NxGn list as the best teenager in world football, with Ajax team-mate Matthijs de Ligt coming in two places behind him and last year's winner Gianluigi Donnarumma finishing as runner-up, but where will this year's top talents end up in a decade’s time? At least, according to Football Manager 2018!

Ajax may have had two of the most talented young players in the world, but on our simulated game they failed to build around them and saw both Kluivert and De Ligt leave within the next two seasons. Neither player picked up any major silverware at the club, and moved abroad in order to have a better chance of club and individual honours.

Kluivert had a false start at Inter, scoring just twice in 14 games in 2019-20 before being loaned out to Sassuolo in the hope of gaining more first-team experience. A Serie A winners' medal accompanied him when he left Inter to join West Brom, becoming the club's record signing for £22 million. The Netherlands international became a hugely popular player among Baggies fans, playing over 240 times for the Premier League outfit.

Kluivert NxGn

Defender De Ligt also broke club records when he left Ajax, becoming their most expensive sale and Bayern Munich's biggest ever signing at £59m. Like Kluivert, he spent some time on loan from his parent club, joining Hamburg during his first season in Germany to get accustomed to the Bundesliga.

De Ligt's trophy cabinet began to fill up at Bayern, helping them to six domestic titles. His international career also flourished, being named Netherlands captain in 2022 and going on to play 110 times for his country.

Despite regular interest from Juventus, Donnarumma stayed faithful to AC Milan, where he continued to be first choice between the posts. The goalkeeper kept an impressive 193 clean sheets in 455 appearances for the Rossoneri, which saw him set the consecutive clean sheet record and then break it four times more over a 10-year spell.

Despite helping Milan to the Europa League final in 2026 and winning two Serie A titles, Donnarumma's greatest success came at international level. He was Italy's hero at the Mexico World Cup in 2026, denying Ukraine on penalties to lift the biggest trophy in football.

Vinicius Junior, who finished third in the 2018 NxGn, finally joined Real Madrid from Flamengo in 2018-19. However, his stay at Santiago Bernabeu was just a short one, as Zinedine Zidane decided his development would be better served away from the club for another year. The winger moved to Schalke, where he set the record for the club's fastest ever goal and was chosen as the fans' player of the year and Bundesliga newcomer of the year.

Vinicius Junor 14032018

The early 2020s were hugely successful for Vinicius, winning four Liga titles in a row with Real before Manchester City decided to splash the cash to sign him for £109m in 2024. Despite the outlay from the Citizens, he never added the Premier League to his list of achievements, with a Carabao Cup win in 2028 the sole trophy Dele Alli, Isaac Success and Vinicius brought back to Manchester.

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Phil Foden, who placed fifth in this year’s NxGn, had a similarly uneventful career at City, failing to play a minute in the Premier League in 2017-18. As a result, he joined Brighton and Hove Albion. Injury and indifference blighted his Brighton career, with Chris Hughton deeming him surplus to requirements and sending him back to City.

He got a chance to impress in the Championship with Fulham and then in Ligue 1 with Lyon, but eventually left Manchester permanently having never broken through. Southampton came calling where he finally began to kick on, earning a move to PSG in 2026. He won the Coupe de France the following year, but that is his only trophy to date.

 

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