NXGN: Saka, Rodrygo, Martinelli and 2020's best wonderkids

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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 the talent as teenagers are now household names, but others have not yet realised their potential.

So, ahead of the NXGN 2022 list being revealed on Tuesday, March 22, check out where the stars of 2020 are now, while all of the other previous NXGN lists can be found below...

  • Pablo Moreno Juventus 2018-19

    50Pablo Moreno | Juventus

    2020: Having scored more than 200 goals at youth level for Barcelona, teenage forward Moreno was beginning to make a similar impact in Turin, while having also earned a place on the first team's bench during the 2019-20 campaign.

    2021: Moreno joined Manchester City in a swap deal in the summer of 2020, before being sent on loan to Girona. He managed 26 appearances in the Spanish second tier, scoring twice.

    2022: The forward was loaned back to Girona for a second successive season, but has struggled for game time this time around.

  • Luqman Hakim Shamsudin, Malaysia U16, AFC U16 Championship, 19092018

    49Luqman Hakim | Selangor

    2020: Already a Malaysia Under-23s international at the age of 18, Hakim had seen a move to Belgian side KV Kortrijk be put on hold due to Covid-19 restrictions.

    2021: Hakim eventually arrived at Kortrjk in the summer of 2020, but made just one appearance in his first season with the club.

    2022: Though now a full international, Hakim has still played just once for Kortrijk since his move to Belgium.

  • Luca Unbehaun NXGN 2020Getty Images

    48Luca Unbehaun | Borussia Dortmund

    2020: Having been snapped up from Bochum in 2016, Germany youth international Unbehaun was working his way through the youth ranks at Dortmund.

    2021: The first-choice goalkeeper for Dortmund's reserve side, Unbehaun did make the first-team bench on a number of occasions.

    2022: Unbehaun has missed a lot of the current season with a hand injury, but remains the No.1 for Dortmund's reserves, who play in the German third tier.

  • Naci Unuvar Ajax 2019-20

    47Naci Unuvar | Ajax

    2020: Having become Ajax's youngest-ever goalscorer at the age of 16, Unuvar was being tipped to eventually replace Hakim Ziyech in the first team, despite reports linking him with Barcelona.

    2021: Unuvar endured a difficult campaign, as he struggled to kick on in Amsterdam, and played solely for Jong Ajax in the second division.

    2022: Unuvar has performed much better for Jong Ajax this season, racking up double-figure toals for both goals and assists already, while also earning a couple of first-team appearances.

  • Daniel Maldini Milan

    46Daniel Maldini | AC Milan

    2020: Had recently made his Serie A debut for the Rossoneri, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Cesare, and father, Paolo, in representing the seven-time European champions.

    2021: Maldini picked up another 10 first-team appearances over the course of 2020-21, but largely remained on the fringes at San Siro.

    2022: The attacking midfielder marked his first Serie A start with a goal early in the current campaign, but has not seen much game time since.

  • Xavi Simons NetherlandsGetty

    45Xavi Simons | Paris Saint-Germain

    2020: After stunning Barcelona with his decision to leave La Masia in the summer of 2019, Simons was beginning to impress for PSG's Under-19s side.

    2021: Simons made his first-team debut in February 2021, while appearing on the bench for the first team on a number of occasions.

    2022: One of the stars of this season's UEFA Youth League, Simons has also appeared sporadically at senior level, though he could be about to leave Parc des Princes as he enters the final few months of his contract.

  • Youssoufa MoukokoGetty

    44Youssoufa Moukoko | Borussia Dortmund

    2020: While still only 15, Moukoko was already being spoken about as a potential superstar, having scored freely for both the St. Pauli and Dortmund youth teams, despite playing three or four years above his actual age.

    2021: Moukoko became both the youngest player and goalscorer in Bundesliga history, as well as the youngest player in Champions League history, before his season was ended in March by a ligament injury.

    2022: Injuries have continued to plague Moukoko throughout the current campaign, severely limiting his involvement in the first team.

  • Efrain Alvarez MLS LA Galaxy 03022019

    43Efrain Alvarez | LA Galaxy

    2020: Having been given the seal of approval by Zlatan Ibrahimovic during the Swede's time in MLS, Alvarez was beginning to earn more minutes for the Galaxy first team.

    2021: Alvarez made his Mexico debut in March 2021, before growing into a regular starter for the Galaxy over the course of the year.

    2022: The playmaker made a fantastic start to the 2022 MLS season, scoring a 30-yard screamer against Charlotte FC in early March.

  • Alessio Riccardi Italy U17Getty

    42Alessio Riccardi | Roma

    2020: Riccardi was attracting interest from Juventus, having made his senior debut for Roma in late-2019, with some hopeful he would fill the void left by Francesco Totti at Stadio Olimpico.

    2021: The attacking midfielder spent the 2020-21 season on loan at Pescara, but made just nine appearances for the Serie B outfit.

    2022: Riccardi has made it clear that he wishes to leave Roma, meaning he has been left out of the club's plans at all levels for the majority of the campaign.

  • Bryan Gil FC Sevilla 2019Getty Images

    41Bryan Gil | Sevilla

    2020: The first player born in the 21st century to score in La Liga, Gil was spending the second half of the 2019-20 season on loan at Leganes in a bid to gain experience at senior level.

    2021: Gil joined Eibar for the following campaign and proved to be one of La Liga's most exciting wingers, despite playing in a team that would ultimately be relegated. That earned him an international debut for Spain, and a £21.6m summer move to Tottenham.

    2022: Having failed to start a Premier League game during the first half of the season, Gil was loaned to Valencia in January 2022.

  • Troy Parrott Tottenham 2019-20

    40Troy Parrott | Tottenham

    2020: Already a full Republic of Ireland international, Parrott had committed his future to Spurs after being handed his Premier League debut by Jose Mourinho midway through the 2019-20 campaign.

    2021: Loaned to Millwall for the 2020-21 season, Parrott's deal was cut short after failing to find the net for the Championship side. From there, he joined Ipswich Town for the remainder of the campaign, for whom he scored his first professional goals.

    2022: Parrott has remained in League One this season and is playing on loan at MK Dons, for whom he is a regular contributor of goals and assists.

  • Konrad de la Fuente Barcelona 2019-20

    39Konrad de la Fuente | Barcelona

    2020: Having been at La Masia since 2012, there were fears that Konrad could be set to leave Barcelona amid interest in the United States Under-20 international from the Bundesliga.

    2021: Konrad made both his first-team and international debut in November 2020, but the former would be the first of only three appearances he made for Barca before he was sold to Marseille in the summer of 2021.

    2022: After providing assists in two of his first three Ligue 1 games, Konrad has seen a drop in form and injuries stall his progress.

  • Isaac Lihadji Marseille 2019-20

    38Isaac Lihadji | Marseille

    2020: Having starred for France at the 2019 Under-17 World Cup, Lihadji had been frozen out at Marseille after refusing to sign a new contract, with Manchester United and Chelsea among those being linked with his signature.

    2021: Lille eventually won the race for the winger, as Lihadji made 15 Ligue 1 appearances for the eventual French champions.

    2022: Lihadji has continued to make sporadic appearances in 2021-22, the majority coming off the bench, though he did manage to score his first professional goal in January.

  • Ander Barrenetxea Real Sociedad 2018-19

    37Ander Barrenetxea | Real Sociedad

    2020: The first Real Sociedad player to skip the club's B team and go straight into the first team since Antoine Griezmann, Barrenetxea had already found the net against Real Madrid in his fledgling senior career.

    2021: The winger's first full season in the senior squad was a good one, with Barrenetxea impressing in his 31 league appearances, earning himself a new, six-year contract in the process.

    2022: Two extended spells on the sidelines through injury have stalled Barrenetxea's progress, with the latest having ruled him out since early January.

  • Marcos Paulo, FluminenseGetty

    36Marcos Paulo | Fluminense

    2020: Barcelona had already seen a bid for Portugal youth international Paulo rejected, with the striker having become a regular in the Fluminense first team.

    2021: Paulo allowed his contract to run down before joining Atletico Madrid on a free transfer in the summer of 2021. He was immediately loaned out to Famalicao by the Rojiblancos.

    2022: The forward is yet to open his account in Portuguese football and, as such, has fallen out of favour.

  • Lucien Agoume FranceGetty

    35Lucien Agoume | Inter

    2020: After moving to San Siro from Sochaux in the summer of 2019, France Under-17s captain Agoume was earning comparisons to Paul Pogba following his Inter debut.

    2021: Agoume joined newly-promoted Spezia on loan for the 2020-21 season and made 12 appearances in Serie A as they avoided relegation.

    2022: The midfielder is back in France this season, playing on loan for Brest, where he has been a regular starter.

  • Gabriel Veron Brazil 2019

    34Gabriel Veron | Palmeiras

    2020: The Golden Ball winner at the 2019 Under-17 World Cup, Veron had already broken into the Palmeiras first team, scoring twice on just his second senior appearance.

    2021: Veron went on to play an important part in 2020 Palmeiras' Copa Libertadores triumph, which was sealed in early 2021, and he was linked with a host of top European clubs. He missed four months of action with a hamstring injury, however, and struggled for force his way back into the line-up in 2021.

    2022: The winger continues to be in and out of the Palmeiras team in the early weeks of the 2022 campaign.

  • Billy Gilmour Chelsea 2019-20

    33Billy Gilmour | Chelsea

    2020: The former Rangers academy star was earning rave reviews at Chelsea after putting in dominant displays against both Liverpool and Everton, shortly before football went into its coronavirus-enforced shutdown.

    2021: A serious knee injury saw Gilmour miss six months of football in the latter half of 2020, and he struggled to re-establish himself following Thomas Tuchel's arrival at Stamford Bridge. In the summer of 2021, he joined Norwich City on loan.

    2022: Perhaps not a player with the skills needed for a relegation-threatened team, Gilmour has been criticised at times by Norwich fans, though he has been a regular starter under Dean Smith.

  • Ki-Jana Hoever Liverpool 2019-20

    32Ki-Jana Hoever | Liverpool

    2020: Having become the youngest Liverpool player to appear in the FA Cup when making his debut at 16, defender Hoever was getting further opportunities to prove his worth to Jurgen Klopp in cup competitions.

    2021: Hoever joined Wolves in a £9m move in the summer of 2020 and made his first 12 Premier League the following campaign, acting predominantly as a back-up for Nelson Semedo.

    2022: The ex-Ajax youngster has performed a similar role under Bruno Lage, though the Wolves boss has criticised him for a lack of preparation leading to a recent injury.

  • Benoit Badiashile NXGN 2020Getty Images

    31Benoit Badiashile | Monaco

    2020: Centre-back Badiashile was earning comparisons to Samuel Umtiti, having quickly become a regular in the Monaco line-up after making his first-team debut in November 2018.

    2021: Having generated interest from Manchester United, Badiashile played all-but three league games for Monaco in 2020-21 as they went close to winning the French title under Niko Kovac.

    2022: The 20-year-old has struggled with hamstring injuries over the course of the current season, but continues to perform well when he is available.

  • NxGn Antonio Marin Dinamo ZagrebGetty

    30Antonio Marin | Dinamo Zagreb

    2020: Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan all showed an interest in Marin before he signed his first professional contract with Dinamo in 2017, and the playmaker had begun to make his mark in the first team in Zagreb.

    2021: He joined AC Monza on loan for the 2020-21 season but, after making just seven appearances in Italy, Marin cut his stay short and joined Lokomotiva for the remainder of the campaign in January 2021.

    2022: Marin is spending the current season on loan at HNK Sibenik and has emerged as one of the best creative forwards in the Croatian top flight.

  • Tomas Tavares BenficaGetty

    29Tomas Tavares | Benfica

    2020: Tavares started five of Benfica's six Champions League group games in 2019-20, with the Portugal Under-19 international already a key member of the senior squad at Estadio da Luz.

    2021: Having joined Alaves on loan in the summer of 2020, Tavares made just five appearances for the Spanish side before the deal was cut short in January. From there, he joined Farense, where he was a regular starter in the Portuguese top flight.

    2022: The full-back is spending the current season on loan at Basel, where he has racked up over 20 appearances, despite not being a regular starter.

  • Yari Verschaeren Anderlecht 2019-20

    28Yari Verschaeren | Anderlecht

    2020: Already a full international and goalscorer for Belgium, 'the new Eden Hazard' was a regular in the Anderlecht line-up.

    2021: A three-month absence with an ankle injury, coupled with an early finish to the season due to Covid-19, meant that Verscharen made just 16 league appearances in 2020-21, though he still managed to score five times.

    2022: Now an established starter, Verscharen has already set personal bests for goals and assists in a single season with two months still to go.

  • Curtis Jones Liverpool 2020Getty

    27Curtis Jones | Liverpool

    2020: Already something of a cult hero in the eyes of Liverpool fans after scoring a stunning winner against Everton in the FA Cup, as well as the deciding penalty in a Carabao Cup shootout victory over Arsenal earlier in the 2019-20 season.

    2021: Jones began to earn comparisons with Steven Gerrard as he went from strength to strength over the course of the 2020-21 season.

    2022: Having missed two months with an eye injury, Jones has struggled to re-establish himself in the Liverpool midfield, though he continues to make the odd appearance for Jurgen Klopp's side.

  • Lassina TraoreGetty

    26Lassina Traore | Ajax

    2020: Traore impressed during his first 12 months in Amsterdam following his move from Ajax Cape Town, with the Burkina Faso international having found the net on his debut for Erik ten Hag's side in December 2019.

    2021: The striker made headlines in October 2020 when he netted five goals in Ajax's record-breaking 13-0 win over VVV-Venlo, but he scored just twice more in the Eredivisie in 2020-21 as he fell down the pecking order, leading to Shakhtar Donetsk paying €10m to sign him in the summer transfer window.

    2022: Traore made a brilliant start to life in Ukraine, scoring nine goals in his first 14 Shakhtar appearances, only to suffer a season-ending knee injury in September.

  • Joao Pedro NXGN 2020Getty Images

    25Joao Pedro | Watford

    2020: Watford moved quickly to sign Joao Pedro before he had even made his Fluminense debut and, after catching the eye with his performances in Brazil, he eventually made the switch to Vicarage Road in January 2020.

    2021: The forward did not get a run of games under his belt until the Hornets found themselves in the Championship, but once he was in the team, it proved difficult to get him out of it, as he scored nine goals to help fire Watford to promotion.

    2022: Joao Pedro has already made over 20 appearances this season, though he has been in and out of the Premier League line-up.

  • Karim Adeyemi Germany U17 2019Getty Images

    24Karim Adeyemi | Red Bull Salzburg

    2020: Released by Bayern Munich at an early age, Adeyemi opted to join Salzburg over Chelsea when he turned 16, and had just made his debut for the Austrian champions.

    2021: Despite not being a regular starter, Adeyemi reached double figures for both goals and assists in 2020-21, marking him out as Salzburg's next breakout star.

    2022: Break out he has this season, earning himself a Germany debut in the process after impressing in both the Austrian Bundesliga and the Champions League. Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund are among the clubs hoping to sign him this summer.

  • Gio Reyna Borussia Dortmund 2019-20Getty Images

    23Gio Reyna | Borussia Dortmund

    2020: 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 after becoming the youngest goalscorer in DFB-Pokal history.

    2021: Reyna became a key part of Dortmund's attacking unit in 2020-21, providing seven goals and eight assists in all competitions while also establishing himself in the U.S. men's national team.

    2022: The forward spent almost six months on the sidelines with an injury earlier this season and only recently returned to action at Signal Iduna Park.

  • Joshua Zirkzee - Bayern Munich

    22Joshua Zirkzee | Bayern Munich

    2020: Having scored decisive goals in each of his first two Bayern Munich appearances, Netherlands Under-19 international Zirkzee was settling into his role as the Bavarians' main back-up for Robert Lewandowski.

    2021: Zirkzee fell out of favour during the opening months of the 2020-21 season and was loaned to Parma in January. He managed just four appearances in Italy, as a knee injury ended his season early, before he joined Anderlecht on loan for the new campaign.

    2022: The striker has been a revelation in Belgian football, and already has over 20 combined goals and assists to his name as the season enters its final two months.

  • Fabio Silva Portugal U17 2019Getty Images

    21Fabio Silva | Porto

    2020: Both the youngest player and goalscorer in Porto history, Silva was earning comparisons to Cristiano Ronaldo in his homeland after enjoying a superb youth career.

    2021: Wolves paid a club-record £35m ($47m) to bring the striker to Molineux in the summer of 2020, and though he became the club's youngest-ever Premier League goalscorer, he struggled at times after being required to deputise for the injured Raul Jimenez.

    2022: With Jimenez back available, Silva has tended to be used off the bench this season, though he continues to disappoint in frontn of goal.

  • Myron Boadu AZGetty

    20Myron Boadu | AZ

    2020: Boadu was well on his way to finishing the 2019-20 season with 20 goals and 13 assists in all competitions, and having already played and scored for the Netherlands, he looked destined for a big-money summer transfer.

    2021: That move did not come, and Boadu made a slow start to the following season before eventually finding his form to finish the campaign with 15 goals. That convinced Monaco to pay €17m to sign him in the summer of 2021.

    2022: Boadu has struggled in his role as Wissam Ben Yedder's back-up at the Stade Louis II, with the goals having dried up since his move to Ligue 1.

  • Thiago Almada Velez Sarsfield 2019-20

    19Thiago Almada | Velez Sarsfield

    2020: Almada was being heavily linked with a move to Manchester City after continually putting in performances for Argentine side Velez that belied his tender years.

    2021: A nine-goal season followed for the playmaker in 2021, as he continued to be linked with a move to either Europe or MLS.

    2022: Atlanta United made Almada the most expensive signing in MLS history, paying $16m in February 2022 to bring him to Georgia.

  • Pedri NXGN 2020Las Palmas

    18Pedri | Las Palmas

    2020: The young midfielder already knew he would be leaving Las Palmas for Barcelona at the end of the season, with the Blaugrana having paid an initial €5m to sign a player likened to Andres Iniesta.

    2021: The breakout star of the 2020-21 La Liga season, Pedri played all-but one of Barca's league games as he struck up a superb relationship with Lionel Messi. He went on to be named Young Player of the Tournament at Euro 2020, and the Golden Boy and Kopa Trophee winner for 2021.

    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 current season, though he has been in fine form since returning to fitness.

  • Harvey Elliott Liverpool 2019-20Getty Images

    17Harvey Elliott | Liverpool

    2020: After becoming the youngest player in Premier League history in the spring of 2019, Liverpool moved quickly to sign the Fulham starlet that summer, before handing him first-team opportunities in the early weeks of the following campaign.

    2021: Elliott spent the 2020-21 season on loan at Blackburn Rovers and he proved to be one of the Championship's star attractions, providing a combined 18 goals and assists at Ewood Park.

    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. He has since returned to action and scored his first goal for the club in February.

  • Adil Aouchiche Linas PSG Coupe de France 05012019Getty

    16Adil Aouchiche | Paris Saint-Germain

    2020: Aouchiche made headlines in the summer of 2019 after scoring nine goals in just four games at the Under-17s European Championship, and the midfielder backed that up by finding the net in one of his first appearances for the PSG first team.

    2021: Having let his PSG contract run down, Aouchiche joined Saint-Etienne, and played all-but four of their Ligue 1 games in his first season at the club.

    2022: Largely a substitute during the current campaign, Aouchiche has still laid on a handful of assists for the struggling Verts.

  • Bukayo Saka Arsenal 2019-20Getty

    15Bukayo Saka | Arsenal

    2020: After being given opportunities to impress under Unai Emery, the versatile winger was excelling as a left-back under Mikel Arteta in north London.

    2021: Saka truly exploded in the 2020-21 season, directly contributing to 17 goals for Arsenal, before starring for England in their run to the Euro 2020 final.

    2022: The forward's form has continued into the current campaign, where he has already surpassed his previous best season for goals.

  • Rayan Cherki LyonGetty

    14Rayan Cherki | Lyon

    2020: 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.

    2021: Cherki made mostly substitute appearances in 2020-21, as he continued to be linked with a move to Real Madrid.

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

  • Eric Garcia Manchester City

    13Eric Garcia | Manchester City

    2020: The former La Masia star was beginning to earn regular game time under Pep Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium, with City believing they had a defensive gem on their hands.

    2021: It was announced that Garcia would not be renewing his contract at City, and so he struggled for minutes in 2020-21, though that did not stop him from playing a key role for Spain at Euro 2020. Ahead of the tournament, it was announced that he would be returning to boyhood club Barcelona on a free transfer.

    2022: Garcia has largely been a starter in his first season back in Catalunya and the hope is that he will become Gerard Pique's long-term replacement.

  • William Saliba Saint-Etienne 2019-20

    12William Saliba | Arsenal

    2020: Regarded as one of the best young centre-backs in European football, Saliba was back on loan with boyhood club Saint-Etienne after Arsenal agreed to pay £27m to bring the teenager to north London in the summer of 2019.

    2021: Somewhat surprisingly, Mikel Arteta opted against integrating Saliba into his squad, meaning he was forced to join Nice on loan for the second half of the 2020-21 season in a bid to get minutes under his belt.

    2022: Saliba remains in France after joining Marseille on loan and despite a strong start, his form has, by his own admission, dropped off a little in 2022.

  • Inter Genoa Sebastiano EspositoGetty

    11Sebastiano Esposito | Inter

    2020: 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.

    2021: The forward's loan spell at SPAL for the 2020-21 season was cut short after six months and he instead joined Venezia for the second half of the season, where he played 19 games as they earned promotion to Serie A. He joined FC Basel on loan at the start of the following season.

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

  • Ryan Gravenberch Ajax 2019-20Getty Images

    10Ryan Gravenberch | Ajax

    2020: After becoming Ajax's youngest-ever player in September 2018, Gravenberch was a regular in Erik ten Hag's side at the age of 17 and being compared to Paul Pogba.

    2021: The midfielder continued to progress, scoring his first Champions League goal as well as three times in the league. Gravenberch's form earned him a first Netherlands cap in March 2021.

    2022: Though not always at his best this season, Gravenberch remains one of the most sought-after youngsters in world football, with Bayern Munich having been heavily linked with a move this summer.

  • Takefusa Kubo Real Madrid pre-season 2019

    9Takefusa Kubo | Real Madrid

    2020: Forced to leave Barcelona in 2016 following their FIFA-imposed transfer ban, Kubo had returned to Spain in the summer of 2019 with Madrid, having broken countless J.League records in his homeland. Was spending his first season in La Liga impressing on loan at Mallorca.

    2021: Having joined Villarreal on loan in the summer of 2020, the forward failed to force his way into Unai Emery's team and had his loan spell cut short in January 2021, with Madrid instead sending him on loan to Getafe for the remainder of the season, though he struggled to make much of an impact.

    2022: Mallorca's promotion back to La Liga allowed them to make their move and bring Kubo back to the club on loan in 2021-22, with the Japan international's form having improved a little as a result.

  • NxGn Mohammed Ihattaren PSVGetty

    8Mohamed Ihattaren | PSV

    2020: One of Europe's best teenage creative midfielders, Ihattaren could be found regularly pulling the strings for PSV.

    2021: The attacking midfielder fell out with PSV managed Roger Schmidt at the beginning of the 2020-21 season and he played just 22 times in the Eredivisie. Further rifts followed, leading to Ihatteren joining Juventus in a €6m deal, before he was loaned to Sampdoria.

    2022: Ihattaren never played a game in Serie A and there were even reports that he would retire after he returned to the Netherlands mid-season. He was signed on a year-long loan by Ajax in January 2022, but has failed to impress Erik ten Hag because of his lack of fitness.

  • Lee Kang-in Valencia 2019-20Getty Images

    7Lee Kang-in | Valencia

    2020: After winning the Golden Ball at the 2019 Under-20 World Cup as an 18-year-old, South Korea international Lee was earning regular starts for Valencia.

    2021: Lee rejected a series of contract renewal offers from Valencia over the course of the 2020-21 season and was placed on the transfer list at the end of the campaign. In the end, he was released in August, allowing Mallorca to sign him on a free.

    2022: After beginning the season as a starter, Lee has fallen down the pecking order a little over the course of the past two months.

  • Gabriel Martinelli Arsenal 2019-20

    6Gabriel Martinelli | Arsenal

    2020: Plucked from the fourth tier of Brazilian football in the summer of 2019, Martinelli had made a superb start to life at Arsenal, becoming the first teenager to reach double figures for goals in a single season for the club since Nicolas Anelka in 1998-99.

    2021: Martinelli missed the first half of the 2020-21 season with a knee injury and struggled to force himself into the first-team picture thereafter, finishing the campaign with just two goals to his name.

    2022: The forward has been back to his best this season, with his pace and dribbling ability down the left-hand side earning him a regular starting spot in the Gunners line-up, as well as a first Brazil call-up.

  • Eduardo Camavinga Rennes Ligue 1Getty

    5Eduardo Camavinga | Rennes

    2020: 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.

    2021: The midfielder started the 2020-21 season in sparkling form, and became France's youngest goalscorer in over a century, before his form dropped off in the second half of the campaign. That did not put off Real Madrid, though, who paid €40m to bring him to Santiago Bernabeu.

    2022: After scoring on his Madrid debut, Camavinga has largely been a substitute during his first season in Spain, as he learns under the likes of Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro.

  • Reinier Real Madrid 2019-20Instagram.com/reinier.jesus

    4Reinier | Real Madrid

    2020: 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.

    2021: Reinier joined Borussia Dortmund on a two-year loan deal in the summer of 2021, but started just one match – the final league game of the season – in his first campaign in Germany. Despite reports his deal would be terminated, he opted to remain with the club for a second season.

    2022: Things have not improved for Reinier, with the Brazilian still able to count on one hand the number of starts he has made since arriving in the Bundesliga.

  • Mason Greenwood Manchester United 2019-20

    3Mason Greenwood | Manchester United

    Following Greenwood's inclusion on the NXGN 2020 list, he continued to develop, becoming a key figure in the Manchester United forward line and a full England international.

    In January 2022, Greenwood was suspended "until further notice" by United, after he was arrested on suspicion of rape and assault.

  • Ansu Fati Barcelona 2019-20

    2Ansu Fati | Barcelona

    2020: Having beaten Real Madrid to the signing of Fati, Barcelona took the almost unheard of decision to promote the forward to the club's first-team squad in the summer of 2019, despite him having never played for the club's B team. He rewarded them by breaking countless goalscoring records, including becoming the youngest ever player to find the net in the Champions League in December of the same year.

    2021: Fati earned a first Spain cap as he started the 2020-21 season by scoring four goals in his first seven league appearances, only to suffer a meniscus injury in November that required four surgeries and ruled him out for the season. He did, however, pick up the 2021 NXGN award.

    2022: When Fati has played this season, he has been a thorn in the side of opposition defences, but back-to-back hamstring injuries have meant that it again looks like being a lost campaign for the forward.

  • Rodrygo Real Madrid Osasuna

    1Rodrygo | Real Madrid

    2020: Having made his Santos debut at the age of 16 in 2017, Rodrygo joined Madrid 18 months later in a deal worth €45m. He marked his Blancos debut with a goal after 93 seconds before scoring a perfect hat-trick on his first Champions League start. In addition, he had already been capped twice by Brazil.

    2021: Rodrygo was mainly a substitute during the 2020-21, and scored just twice in all competitions.

    2022: Though still largely a rotational piece in Carlo Ancelotti's squad, the Brazilian has put in some key performances so far this season, especially in the Champions League.