20 Golden Boy 2020 Nominees You Haven’t Heard of… Yet
The Golden Boy nominees list announcement has become a staple of the footballing calendar in recent years, with previous winners of the rising star award including soon-to-be global megstars like Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Paul Pogba, Raheem Sterling, Kylian Mbappe and *ahem* Anderson.
This year, Tuttosport‘s list of the 100 best youngsters in world football features blockbuster names like Erling Haaland, Jadon Sancho, Ansu Fati and Alphonso Davies, but it also comes with plenty of players who are yet to really make it into the public eye.
Let’s take a look at some of the lesser-known players on the list, who could be tomorrow’s superstars.
A former Lazio academy gem, the human skyscraper (he’s 1.98m) that is Ionuț Rus spent the first part of this season out on loan with Romanian second-tier side Turris Turnu Măgurele, where he impressed enough to earn himself a spot on parent side Cluj’s bench for the remainder of the campaign.
The 20-year-old goalkeeper is yet to make his senior debut for Cluj, so his chances of winning the Golden Boy trophy seem a little slim.
Discarded by Monaco in 2019, 19-year-old Croatian left-back David Čolina got his career back on track by breaking through into the Hajduk Split senior side this season.
Seen as one of Croatia’s brightest young stars, Čolina will be hoping to keep the momentum behind him as he looks to live up to his exciting potential.
After making his senior debut in 2018, 19-year-old right-back Lutsharel Geertruida established himself as Feyenoord’s primary option in his position in November 2019.
His introduction to the team coincided with Feyenoord’s climb from 12th to third in the Eredivisie.
Despite being just 20, centre-back Tiago Djaló has been around. He started his career with Sporting CP, enjoyed a brief spell with AC Milan and is now settled in Lille.
His imposing physicality has seen him attract interest from Manchester City and West Ham United in the past, but he won’t come cheap anymore.
You might have seen Djaló in action for Lille in their 2-1 defeat to Chelsea in the Champions League, although your focus might have been on centre-back partner and rumoured Premier League target Gabriel Magalhães.
Argentinian centre-back Nehuén Pérez was an under-the-radar signing by Atlético Madrid in 2018. He is yet to make his debut and has instead spent this season out on loan with Portuguese upstarts Famalicão.
With Diego Simeone’s side desperately searching for a breath of fresh air, Pérez might just have a spot waiting for him when he returns.
Right-back Yukinari Sugawara became the second-youngest player in the history of the Japanese top flight in 2018, and the excitement around that earned him a loan move from Nagoya Grampus to AZ Alkmaar last summer.
Often playing further forward, the 19-year-old has been hugely impressive during his time in the Eredivisie, giving AZ no choice but to trigger their option to buy him permanently in February.
Loïc Mbe Soh broke on to the scene at Paris Saint-Germain towards the end of last season, and although he has only managed one appearance since then, there is real excitement around the versatile centre-back.
Given PSG’s inability to hold on to any of their promising youngsters, expect Mbe Soh to blossom into a real star somewhere else in the near future.
Scouts around Europe are already well aware of Sporting defender Eduardo Quaresma. Both Inter and AC Milan have failed in bids to sign him, and Sporting are so eager to keep him that they handed him a new contract €45m release clause.
For a player who only made his senior debut after Liga NOS’ return in June, that’s a hefty amount, and that tells you all you need to know about the 18-year-old.
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Marley Aké’s development at Marseille has flown under the radar as the focus has been on teammate Isaac Lihadji, who is wanted by most of Europe’s elite.
The 19-year-old forward is a regular off the bench for André Villas-Boas’ side, bringing his trickery and speed anywhere across the forward line.
If you were looking for niche transfer stories in the summer of 2017 (and let’s face it, who wasn’t?), you might have seen Inter strike a deal to sign Argentinian striker Facundo Colidio.
After impressing in Inter’s academy, the 20-year-old joined Sint-Truiden on loan last summer and managed one goal and seven assists in his first 12 appearances.
Swiss side Young Boys have a habit of producing exciting youngsters, and the next star off the production line is 19-year-old left winger Felix Mambimbi.
He made a mockery of youth football, scoring 11 goals in just five Under-21 appearances this season, and Mambimbi bagged his first senior goal in October 2019.
The hopes of South African football have been on striker Lyle Foster’s shoulders ever since his breakthrough as a 16-year-old. Now with Monaco and on loan with Cercle Brugge, expectations remain just as high.
Taylor has found it hard in a poor Brugge side, but he has still impressed in spells, netting his first senior goal in December.
AC Milan have already noticed Serbian winger Zeljko Gavrić, the 19-year-old winger who is a regular starter for Red Star these days.
His performances out on loan with second-tier side Grafičar encouraged Red star to bring him up to their senior side immediately, and he hasn’t looked back yet.
Fans of English youth football might have spotted Swiss forward Lorenzo González starring in Manchester City’s academy between 2016 and 2019.
González joined cash-strapped Malaga in September before being offloaded to St Gallen in January, but has managed just 120 minutes of action all year after battling a knee injury.
Ghana international Mohammed Kudus has been a regular for Nordsjælland over the last few years, and despite being just 19 years old, he’s one of the top scorers in Norwegian football this year.
There has been some interest in Kudus from the Premier League, with Newcastle and Everton tracking the teenager.
A star of Ukraine’s triumph at the 2019 Under-20 World Cup, Dynamo Kyiv midfielder Giorgi Tsitaishvili has been flirting with a breakthrough for a few years now.
Tsitaishvili has managed two appearances in the Europa League but still has some work to do before he’s challenging for awards like this.