The Golden Boy award is awarded to the best young player (under the age of 21) in Europe on the basis of the performances in the calendar year. A combination of top journalists from all over Europe vote for what they think is the best young player. And it is that time of the year again!
The Golden Boy award has been previously won by world-class talents like Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Wayne Rooney, Cesc Fabregas, Isco and Paul Pogba. All of these talents went on to find their potential and had the world at their feet. Recent winners like Renato Sanches, Raheem Sterling, and Anthony Martial, in a contradictory manner, have failed to do so.
Italian publication Tuttosport recently unveiled a list of 25 contenders for what they assume to be the youth Ballon d’Or. The list included talents like Kylian Mbappe, Marcus Rashford, Ousmane Dembele, Gabriel Jesus, Kasper Dolberg, Dominic Solanke etc. The list is full of promising players but some just look head and shoulders above the rest.
So, here we have compiled the favorites to win the prestigious award :
This young prodigy is one of the best players in the world right now. Let alone the fact that he’s just 18 years of age! Kylian Mbappe has the world at his feet. The Frenchman is currently on loan at PSG from Monaco with an option to buy. ‘Donatello’, as called by his PSG teammates, took the world by storm last season where he scored 26 goals in 44 appearances, leading Monaco to the Ligue 1 title. He looks to continue his excellent form with Les Parisiens, scoring two goals in his first three appearances for the club. And in doing so, he has established himself to be among the leading candidates for the Golden Boy award.
Jesus himself. Gabriel Jesus has been nothing short of a heavenly character at Manchester City. Since arriving in January, the Brazilian has left no stones unturned. The 20-year-old has scored 12 goals in 17 apps for The Citizens. He is a clinical striker with lethal finishing and quick movement. Initially, the former Palmeiras man was termed as overpriced. But, he has proved all of his haters wrong with great performances on the pitch. Jesus even displaced Sergio Aguero out of the starting XI! He is now an obstacle in anyone’s way to win the Golden Boy award.
The runner-up from last year’s Golden Boy rankings. Marcus Rashford has improved a lot since then. After having a dry start to the 16/17 season, he came up with the goods during the business end of last season, helping Manchester United to Europa League glory. The Englishman has had a terrific start to this season with 4 goals and 3 assists in 9 apps for club and country this season. The boy from Wythenshawe has plenty of pace, energy, tricks and flicks in his bag with an eye for goal. After being second best last year, the ‘Kid’ will be looking to be at the paramount of the Golden Boy list.
An Italian Goalkeeper named Gianluigi. Sound familiar? Well, this is also a top-class keeper and what many believe, Gianluigi Buffon’s successor. Standing at a height of 6ft 5″, ‘Gigio’ can cover the entire goal and his imposing figure is enough to scare attackers. The Italian Goalkeeper has excellent shot-stopping abilities, with great reflexes, positioning, distribution and leadership qualities. He broke through into the Milan first team in 2015 and hasn’t looked back since. Donnarumma is one of the major reasons for Milan’s resurrection. He makes impossible saves possible. He is on the way to becoming the face of Italian football for many, many years.
The €105m boy. Ousmane Dembele was brought in by Barcelona this summer to replace the departing Neymar Jr. Whether he can do that or not is a completely different question. But what he is, is a supremely skilled player. The 20-year-old is a pacy winger with a cutting edge. He has excellent dribbling abilities – he has completed over 120 take-ons last season! The Frenchman scored 14 goals and assisted 21 times from 9 appearances last season. He’s called as ‘mosquito’ by his Barcelona teammates as he’s so small and quick! He’s currently injured for 3-4 months but is still a heavyweight going into the Golden Boy awards!
If there are favourites for the awards, there need to be some wildcards too.
In the same manner, we have some too. Take Kasper Dolberg for example. The Danish striker scored 23 goals in 47 apps for Ajax last year. Or Cristian Pulisic, who has been performing excellently for club and country. Then comes Dominic Solanke, who led England to a U20 World Cup win. Youri Tielemans, the Belgian starlet is one of the hottest midfield prospects in the world! The list also includes skillful talents like Dominc Calvert-Lewin, Emre More, Theo Hernandez etc. It really will be one heck of a competition!