Current Ability: 135
Potential Ability: 140Ryad Boudebouz broke into the Sochaux first team in Ligue 1 at just 18 years old, and became a regular starter afterwards due to his impressive talent at such a young age. Naturally the hype followed, with EA setting his potential at 86 (160-169 in FM) which lasted for 2 years until his progress slowed. Like many of the failed wonderkids on this list, Boudebouz peaked at a young age and his career since has been respectable but somewhat forgettable when compared with what could've been. Boudebouz now plays for AS Saint-Etienne after an unsuccessful spell with Real Betis, but with a current ability of 135 Boudebouz could still play a backup role for me in the CAM spot.
Current Ability: 145
Potential Ability: 159Pastore attracted attention from a number of big clubs such as Manchester United, Porto, Milan, and Chelsea before moving to Palermo from Argentine club Huracan. He then established himself very quickly as one of their best players despite his young age, and was given a potential of 90 (171-179 in FM) back in FIFA 11, roughly 4 months before he signed for PSG for €39.8m. This is where he somewhat plateaued and failed to become the world-class player that PSG had expected when they signed him. Pastore now plays for AS Roma but has struggled to assert himself in the squad despite his relatively high ability. Pastore could be a top contender for the starting CAM role in my lineup, but I'll keep looking to see if I kind find any slightly better options.
Current Ability: 146
Potential Ability: 159Augusto was (and may still be) regarded as one of the best products of Brazilian club Flamengo's youth academy in recent years, but I'm certainly not alone in thinking Augusto could've achieved much more if he had fulfilled the potential that was expected of him when he joined Bayer Leverkusen back in 2008. When I first started playing FM on the FM mobile versions, Augusto was always one of my first transfer targets as one of the brightest young prospects in the world at that time. Back in FIFA 10, Augusto was given a potential of 88 (164-174 in FM) and though I don't know exactly what his potential was in FM at the time, he always became a world-class player in each of my saves. Augusto's story is unique from the other wonderkids, though, as he seemed on track to have quite an illustrious career until he decided to leave Bayer Leverkusen to return to Brazil at the age of 24 due to homesickness, right when he should've been taking the next step up to take his game to the next level. Clearly this had an effect on his development and after 3 years he signed for Beijing Guoan, which is odd considering his homesickness but I suppose the money must've been enough to convince him. Regardless, Augusto still possesses great ability and could make a triumphant return to Germany by helping FCG Wunderkinder achieve Champions League qualification.
Current Ability: 140
Potential Ability: 160Lanzini came through the highly respected River Plate academy in his native Argentina before making an odd career move to join Al Jazira Club in the UAE at just 21, despite interest from numerous European clubs. He then joined West Ham on loan before making the deal permanent the following summer, and has since had an impressive spell in the Prem, attracting further interest from top clubs like Liverpool and Manchester United over the past few years. However, Lanzini spent most of last season on the sidelines and though he's featuring once again for the West Ham first team, it's hard to imagine that at 26 Lanzini will improve much more to reach the 87 potential (161-168 in FM) that was once given to him. Lanzini is around the same level as Renato Augusto and Javier Pastore, and due to his younger age he could potentially beat out both of them to make the final squad, we'll see.
Current Ability: 138
Potential Ability: 158Like Renato Augusto, Ganso broke out as a "wonderkid" around the time when I first started playing FM and I distinctly remember recruiting him for my legendary FM 2011 Liverpool team. Ganso really broke through in 2009, making 33 appearances for Santos at just 20 years old and subsequently being nominated for the Brazilian Football Confederation award for "Breakthrough Player" of the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A, given to the best rookie of the competition. His development somewhat stagnated after that, failing to feature as much for Santos before moving to Sao Paulo in 2012 where he stayed until 2016 before finally taking the leap to Europe to sign for Sevilla. He struggled to get into the team at Sevilla and has since returned to Brazil, potentially for the same reasons as Renato Augusto. If Ganso moved to Europe after that impressive 2009 season, I think he'd have gotten much closer to the 89 (167-174 in FM) potential he was once given in FIFA. He now plays for Fluminense but with a current ability of 138 he could provide a solid backup option for me in the CAM position.
Current Ability: 151
Potential Ability: 173Gotze is first player on this list to hold a current ability rating of over 150 in FM, and therefore has already made the team by default! His German nationality will also help with the squad registration quota, so I think I'll go with a 4-2-3-1 formation rather than my preferred 4-1-4-1 due to the better options in the CAM position than the CDM role. Gotze was expected to be one of the best players in the world after breaking into the impressive Borussia Dortmund first team under Jurgen Klopp in 2009 when he was only 17 years old. His progress continued after he signed for Bayern for €37 million, making him the second most expensive German player to date at just 21 years old, and his development seemingly climaxed with his late winner in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Final, cementing his name in German history at just 22 years old. At this time, the hype around him was still huge, with a potential of 92 (189 in FM) looming over his head. The 2014-15 season then began without giving him much of a breather, and he seemingly struggled to regain his form and make any improvement in his game which led to heavy criticism from Franz Beckenbauer over his "lack of determination". After falling down the pecking order at Bayern under Pep Guardiola, Gotze moved back to Borussia Dortmund where he has since plateaued as a solid first team player for the club, far from the world-class star that Dortmund fans had hoped for when he broke into the team at 17. Though many of you probably already know this story, I just thought it was interesting how quickly Gotze's world was turned upside-down.
Current Ability: 139
Potential Ability: 151Meyer was touted as a future star when he became a regular first team player for Schalke at just 18 years old, and was handed a potential of 87 (161-168 in FM) back in FIFA 14 as a result. However, Meyer's development since joining Crystal Palace has stalled, and questions about his attitude and professionalism seem to have cemented his status as a failed wonderkid despite his young age. Still, at 23 (almost 24), Meyer still has time to improve and with a decent current ability and potential as well as the fact that he's German, he would make a great backup for Gotze for my final squad.
Giovani dos Santos
Current Ability: 132
Potential Ability: 150Giovani dos Santos came through Barcelona's academy, La Masia, and featured heavily in his debut season for the club in the 2007-08 season when he was only 18 years old, so expectations were high when he joined Tottenham Hotspur for €6 million in 2008. However, dos Santos only managed to make 17 league appearances over 4 years with the club, and despite several loan spells dos Santos failed to improve much during his time with Spurs before moving to Mallorca in 2012. dos Santos has since had several successful years in Spain and the U.S., and now plays for America in Mexico. With a current ability of 132, dos Santos is good enough to play a backup role for me but due to the better options in the squad it's unlikely that he'll make the cut.
Current Ability: 128
Potential Ability: 146Like dos Santos, Bojan came through the La Masia academy but was undoubtedly more hyped than dos Santos when he broke into the Barcelona first team at just 17 years old, beating Messi's record to become the youngest Barcelona player to feature in a La Liga match (actually coming on for dos Santos as a 78' substitution). This was quite an achievement, and Bojan was deservedly given a potential of 92 (189 in FM) back in FIFA 09 which began to decline in FIFA 10 as he failed to work his way up the Barcelona pecking order. He then joined Roma and has struggled to find a home since, now playing for Montreal Impact in the MLS following a mixed spell with Stoke City. With a current ability of 128, Bojan isn't quite good enough for FCG Wunderkinder but I couldn't leave Bojan out of this list as he's one of the first names that comes to mind in the "failed wonderkids" discussion.
Current Ability: 125
Potential Ability: 138When Morrison came through the Manchester United academy back in 2009, Sir Alex Ferguson reportedly "thought he was the best player he had seen at that age" according to Rio Ferdinand, and his high natural ability led EA to give him a potential of 84 (149-159) which isn't exactly world-class but is still a very high level compared to where Morrison is at now. Multiple assault charges and various disciplinary issues have stunted Morrison's career, but he's been given a chance to resurrect his career by Chris Wilder after joining Sheffield United from Swedish club Ostersunds FK over the summer. With a current ability of just 125, Morrison won't make the FCG Wunderkinder squad but I felt he deserved an honorable mention.
Current Ability: 112
Potential Ability: 140Another honorable mention, Ryan Gauld made waves in the FM community following his breakout season with Dundee United in the Scottish Premiership in the 2013-14 season at just 17 years old. Despite interest from Manchester United, Everton, Liverpool, and even Real Madrid, Gauld joined Sporting CP in 2014 and his development has gone somewhat backwards since then. Gauld now plays for Portuguese club Farense in the second division of Portugal, likely far from where he thought he'd be at this stage. With a current ability of just 112, Gauld wouldn't get anywhere near the first team for FCG Wunderkinder, but I thought he was worth mentioning due to his huge popularity among FM players back when he was first touted as "the Scottish Messi" (yes that was actually a thing).
Despite the extensive options in the CAM position, Gotze and Meyer were relatively easy choices due to their relative abilities, ages, and nationality. Gotze will play the starting CAM role for FCG Wunderkinder and Meyer will play backup while also rotating into the midfield behind Gotze to continue his development. Barring any late mix-ups, Gotze and Meyer will be my 2 options ahead of the others listed above and the defensive midfielders I wrote about before (Nuri Sahin and Johannes Geis).