A 40-man list of nominees for the European Golden Boy award has been announced.
One of the leading contenders for the award is Marcus Rashford, who was nominated following an incredible rise to stardom in 2016.
Rashford has become a Premier League sensation over the last few months. Despite being only 18, he is already a regular at United. The forward was so good last season, that he was called up to the England national team and included in the country’s squad for the European Championships in France, where he became the youngest ever player to represent the country at the tournament, breaking the record set by Wayne Rooney at Euro 2004.
Rashford will face stiff competition from Dele Alli, who won the PFA Young Player of the Year award for his impressive displays with Tottenham Hotspur last season.
Alli, who recently committed himself to Spurs by signing a contract extension, also announced himself to World Football last season. He signed for Tottenham from MK Dons, and became an instant hit at White Hart Lane. He made 33 appearances in the Premier League last season, and managed to bag an impressive 10 goals along with 9 assists.
He became a crucial figure in Spurs’ ultimately unsuccessful title challenge, and also established himself as a regular with the England national side. His stunning performances led to him being awarded with the PFA Young Player of the Year award, and he was also taken to France for England’s Euro 2016 campaign.
Renato Sanches has also been nominated for the award. The youngster had been touted for a bright future after breaking through at Benfica. He signed for Bayern Munich in the summer, and his impressive displays earned him a call up to Portugal’s National team. The Euro 2016 tournament proved to be the perfect stage for Sanches to display his undeniable talent, and he was hailed as the spine of the Portugal team as they went on to win the competition.
Kingsley Coman, Sanches’ teammate at Bayern Munich, who is on loan from Juventus,has also been nominated for the award.
The Golden Boy award has been around since 2003, and was first put forward by Tuttosport. It is an award given to the best young player under the age of 21 playing in one of Europe’s top tier leagues, somewhat like a mini Ballon D’Or.
Several of the world’s best players have won the award while growing up, including the likes of Wayne Rooney (2004), Lionel Messi (2005) and Paul Pogba (2013). Mario Balotelli (2010) and former Manchester United midfielder Anderson (2008) have also won the award, but have failed to kick on and forge a successful career for themselves.
The full list of nominees for the accolade is as follows:
Dele Alli (Tottenham), Marco Asensio (Real Madrid), Leon Bailey (Racing Genk), Riechedly Bazoer (Ajax), Gabriel Boschilia (Monaco), Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen), Andreas Christensen (Borussia Monchengladbach, on loan from Chelsea), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich, on loan from Juventus), Ante Coric (Dinamo Zagreb), Amadou Diawara (Napoli), Mahmoud Dahoud (Gladbach), Danilo (Benfica), Moussa Dembele (Celtic), Ousmane Dembele (Borussia Dortmund) Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan), Breel Ambolo (Schalke), Carlos Fernandez (Sevilla), Gabigol (Inter), Aleksandr Golovin (CSKA Moscow), Demarai Gray (Leicester City), Marko Gruijic (Liverpool), Goncalo Guedes (Benfica), Alen Halilovic (Hamburg), Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City), Alex Iwobi (Arsenal), Viktor Kovalenko (Shakhtar Donetsk), Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Chelsea), Lucas Hernandez (Atletico Madrid), Emanuel Mammana (Lyon), Nathan (Vitesse, on loan from Chelsea), Ruben Neves (Porto), Jules Ntcham (Genoa), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Renato Sanches (Bayern Munich), Jairo Riedewald (Ajax), Antonio Sarabria (Real Betis), Leroy Sane (Manchester City), Jonathan Tah (Leverkusen), Youri Tielemans (Anderlecht), Almamy Toure (Monaco).