The 20-man shortlist for the 2020 Golden Boy award has been revealed.
Voted for every year by sports journalists from across Europe, the award recognises the best young player in the continent. Those nominated must be under the age of 21 and play in a top European division.
Last year, Atletico Madrid star Joao Felix scooped the gong, largely thanks to his performances for Benfica. Past winners have included Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi so the award can be used as a fairly good barometer of the ‘next big thing’ in world football.
But who’s going to win this year? 90min analysed all 20 candidates in order to find out.
Netherlands Under-21 international Bakker had a quiet first half to 2020.
However, he has finally broken into the first team set-up at Paris Saint-Germain this season, making the left-back berth his own after Juan Bernat was ruled out with an ACL injury.
The athletic defender has sky-high potential but his lack of playing time means he has zero chance of scooping the Golden Boy this year. Sorry pal.
If they were giving an award out for the most random record signing of the year, Silva would be the odds-on favourite.
Few people outside of Portugal had heard of the 18-year-old when news broke that he had signed for Wolves for £35m.
The forward became Porto’s youngest ever scorer in 2019 but his 2020 exploits have been sorely lacking. He’s not scored a senior goal all year. Why he’s even on this list is beyond us.
The latest export from the Ajax talent factory is 18-year-old Gravenberch.
The well rounded midfielder became the club’s youngest ever player back in 2018 and has pushed on well since then.
In 2020 he has slowly edged his way further into first team contention and was even handed the number eight shirt this summer. Donny van de Beek’s departure should help facilitate his development going forward.
As much as he is an exciting prospect, 2020 has not been the best of years for Hudson-Odoi.
A hamstring injury suffered back in February was the first in a string of knocks that led to a stop-start 2019/20 campaign for the winger.
This season, Hudson-Odoi has again been in and out of the team. Where he’ll fit in at Chelsea when Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech return to full fitness is a bit of mystery.
What is not a mystery are his chances of winning the Golden Boy. That’s a definite no.
The emergence of Saka was one of the best parts of Arsenal’s rollercoaster 2019/20 campaign.
Kicking off with a dramatic Europa League debut, Saka soon established himself as a key member of the Gunners squad, operating as both a winger and attacking wing back.
The 19-year-old recently made his England debut as well. Not a bad year, but not enough to put him in serious Golden Boy contention.
The remarkably consistent Dest starred for Ajax in the first half of 2020, helping his boyhood side to the top of the Eredivisie table before the season was declared null and void in Holland.
His good form convinced Barcelona to spend just shy of £20m on him in the summer with Bayern Munich also seriously interested.
The United States international is yet to make much of an impact at Camp Nou but his Ajax form suggests that it’s only a matter of time.
Before any Real Madrid fans get angry about their diminutive Brazilian not being higher on the list, let the record show that Rodrygo has only scored one goal in 2020 at the time of writing.
Even worse, it was a consolation strike in the Copa del Rey quarter final against Real Sociedad.
It’s not all been bad this year though. He helped his team reclaim the La Liga title for starters.
Red Bull Salzburg have produced a shed load of young talent in recent years.
The latest name grabbing the headlines is Hungarian starlet Szoboszlai. The versatile 19-year-old, who can play on the left or in central midfield, has enjoyed a sensational 2020.
During the 2019/20 Austrian Bundesliga season he racked up a crazy 23 direct goal involvements in 27 appearances. If he had managed these numbers in a more mainstream league, he may have even been in with an outside shot of securing the gong this year.
The first of two Canadians on this list (spoiler alert), David has already shown himself to be a remarkably gifted finisher.
The 20-year-old managed 23 goals in 40 games for Belgian side Gent last season, form which led to Lille signing him in the summer for £24m.
Like with Szoboszlai though, his Golden Boy chances will be limited by the fact that he did not produce this magic in one of the top European leagues.
Earmarked as the next Andrea Pirlo, every big club in Europe wanted a piece of Tonali after his incredible start to 2020.
Impressing in a defensive midfield role for a horrific Brescia team last season, Milan were the eventual winners of this transfer tug of war, sealing a loan deal with an option to buy in the summer.
The 20-year-old has kicked off his Rossoneri career with a bang as well, helping his side win each of their first six games of the season.
2020 is the first year that Camavinga has been nominated for the Golden Boy award – but it won’t be the last.
The 17-year-old is already an essential piece for Rennes and is constantly being linked with a move to some of the biggest clubs in the world.
The midfielder is a true all rounder, excelling at most aspects of the game. If he doesn’t win this award at some point in the next three years, we will be surprised.
Kicking off our top ten is new Manchester City forward Torres.
The 20-year-old was nominated last year and his 2020 performances have been slightly better.
Torres ended the 2019/20 season for crisis club Valencia with six goals and eight assists. Solid numbers, but not quite Golden Boy winner territory.
The 2019/20 Serie A Young Player of the Year has enjoyed an impressive year so far.
The tireless, talented wideman started last season on loan at Parma from Atalanta. After an excellent first half to the campaign, Juventus came in for him in January, immediately loaning him back to I Gialloblu for the remainder of the term.
Kulusevski finished the season with 19 goal involvements and looks set to play a key role for I Bianconeri during the rest of the year.
Vinicius Junior’s 2020 peaked early when he scored in his side’s Clasico win over Barcelona back in March.
The current season has started very promisingly for the Brazilian. The forward has scored twice in his opening two games, including a vital winner against Real Valladolid after coming on a substitute.
Early signs suggest the 20-year-old is set for a strong end to the year.
He had to wait a while for his chance but when Greenwood finally forced his way into the Manchester United first team he was a revelation.
The striker scored a hatful of goals in all competitions since the turn of the year, establishing himself as an automatic starter in the process.
2020 has also seen Greenwood make his England debut in 1-0 win over Iceland. He would have featured during this international break as well, if the forward hadn’t engaged in some naughty behaviour with fellow nominee Phil Foden.
Speak of the devil. For the third year running the Stockport Iniesta has been nominated for the Golden Boy – and this has to be his best chance of winning yet.
His yearly highlights include a goal and an assist in a 4-0 win over Liverpool back in July and an England debut in September.
Foden has also started each of City’s opening three Premier League games this term. Exciting times for the 20-year-old.
Amid all of the nonsense that has transpired at Barcelona both on and off the field in 2020, Ansu Fati’s mesmeric performances have been a real highpoint.
The 17-year-old already has over ten Barça goals to his name and his start to the current campaign has been particularly encouraging.
Fati kicked off the season with a brace against Villarreal and scored again against Celta Vigo a week later.
19 years old and already the best left-back on the planet – Alphonso Davies is some talent.
The lightning quick Canadian has won no less than four trophies in 2020, the first of many hauls in what is set to be a legendary career.
The highlight of his incredible year has to be that Champions League performance at Stamford Bridge. Davies looked a cut above, tearing Chelsea to pieces all evening.
Erling Haaland defies description. A Frankenstein’s monster, made from body parts of various legendary strikers, he seems to do at least one impossible thing every time he steps onto a football pitch.
His 2020 stats are truly bonkers. Goal scoring records topple like dominos whenever the blonde bombshell comes to town.
Tracking how his career goes after this will be fascinating.
After missing out to Felix last year, we’re tipping Jadon Sancho to go one better this time out and scoop the Golden Boy award.
Sancho’s 2020 output has been truly staggering. A Bundesliga hat trick against Paderborn in May stands out but his performances throughout the year have been very good.
The only thing that could have made his 2020 even better? A move to Manchester United perhaps…
Nice going Ed Woodward.