TuttoSport announced their 40 man shortlist this week for their annual European GOLDENBOY award – honouring the best U21 players across Europe.
Last year’s winner was Anthony Martial. This year’s early front runners for the prize include Martial’s fellow team mate and England hotshot Marcus Rashford, as well as Bayern Munich’s defensive midfielder Renato Sanches and Tottenhams Dele Alli.
One has already broken records, whilst one has already made an impressive start on his trophy cabinet and another was crowned PFA player of the year last year.
We take a little look at the three favourites for the award whilst browsing our eye over a few other young stars who may pick up the prestigious award.
The English boy wonder has scored 12 league goals since he made his Manchester United debut just 8 months ago. Through his meteoritic rise he has scored on his EPL, Europa League, EFL cup and England international debuts, even hitting a hat-trick in his recent debut for the U21s.
He also made the full international squad for the recent Euro 2016 campaign and is currently keeping United captain Wayne Rooney out of the side.
He shows maturity beyond his years, which is evident in his reading of the game. He has pace in abundance to match his positional awareness plus has good feet and ultimately an eye for goal.
Awarded young player of the tournament in last summer’s Euro 2016, where he announced himself on the global scene with a great strike against Poland in the Quarter Final; scoring on his first international start with a 25 yard belter.
The youngster capped off a wonderful year by winning the European Championship with Portugal becoming the youngest player to ever feature in a Euro final – breaking countryman Ronaldo’s record!
In the last 12 months the Portuguese midfield powerhouse has not only won a European Championship medal but also won a domestic double with Benfica prior a big money move to German Champions Bayern Munich.
What a season this boy had last year. In his breakthrough season at Tottenham, the attacking midfielder scored 11 goals, winning the PFA Young Player of the year trophy in the process.
His dazzling displays for the club brought him England recognition, where he scored a wonderful goal on his first full start for his country against France at Wembley in a 2-0 victory. Replicating his club form for his country earned him a place in England’s European Championship squad, where he was an ever present in their side throughout their ill-fated tournament.
Best of the rest…..
Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan)
This 17 year old Italian is regarded as one of the best young goalkeepers in Europe. He has already written his name in the record books being the youngest goalkeeper ever to represent both club and country.
Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City)
Nigerian Iheanacho has already scored 10 goals in very limited game time for Manchester City. It’s his stats that are the most impressive – having scored 9 goals from just 13 shots on target since making his Premier League debut just last season.
Alex Iwobi (Arsenal)
Exciting Nigerian International Iwobi broke into the Arsenal team last season and has’nt looked back since. Team mate Mesut Ozil recently compared him to his uncle Jay Jay Okocha and Edgar Davids.
Ousmane Dembele (Borussia Dortmund)
The French international had an impressive debut season at Rennes last year, scoring 12 goals in just 26 games. After just one season in Ligue 1 he signed for German giants Borussia Dortmund and this year made his debut for the France national team.
Marco Asensio (Real Madrid)
Attacking midfielder Asensio has already scored 3 goals in 6 games for Real Madrid this season and has 2 Spanish caps.
Full Goldenboy Shortlist
Alli Bamidele Jermaine (Tottenham Hotspur)
Asensio Marco Willemsen (Real Madrid)
Leon Bailey (Racing Genk)
Bazoer Riechedly (Ajax)
Boschilia Gabriel (Monaco)
Brandt Julian (Bayer Leverkusen)
Carlos Fernández Luna (Sevilla)
Christensen Andreas (Borussia Mönchengladbach)
Coman Kingsly (Bayern Munich)
Coric Ante (Dinamo Zagreb)
Diawara Amadou (Napoli)
Dahoud Mahmoud (Borussia Mönchengladbach)
Danilo Barbosa da Silva (Benfica)
Dembélé Moussa (Celtic)
Dembélé Ousmane (Borussia Dortmund)
Donnarumma Gianluigi (AC Milan)
Embolo Breel-Donald (Schalke 04)
Gabriel Barbosa Almeida (Internazionale)
Golovin Aleksandr Sergeevic (CSKA Moscow)
Gonçalo Manuel Ganchininho Guedes (Benfica)
Gray Demarai Ramelle (Leicester City)
Grujic Marko (Liverpool)
Halilovic Alen (Hamburger SV)
Iheanacho Kelechi (Manchester City)
Iwobi Alex (Arsenal)
Kovalenko Viktor (Shakhtar Donetsk)
Loftus-Cheek Ruben (Chelsea)
Hernández Lucas (Atletico Madrid)
Mammana Emanuel (Olympique Lyonnais)
Nathan Allan de Souza (Vitesse)
Ntcham Jules Olivier (Genoa)
Rashford Marcus (Manchester United)
Renato Júnior Luz Sanches (Bayern Munich)
Riedewald Jairo (Ajax)
Rúben Diogo da Silva Neves (Porto)
Sanabria Arnaldo Antonio Ayala (Real Betis)
Sané Leroy (Manchester City)
Tah Jonathan Glao (Bayer Leverkusen)
Tielemans Youri (Anderlecht)
Touré Almamy (Monaco)
Who do you think will win the award?
Let’s discuss! Leave comments below..