The final 20-man shortlist for the prestigious Golden Boy award has been announced for 2019, and it features some of the best young talent in the world.
Premier League youngsters Mason Mount, Matteo Guendouzi and Phil Foden are a part of the shortlist alongside England international Jadon Sancho. Joao Felix and Kai Havertz are other popular names.
The highly-coveted accolade was first established by Italian publication Tuttosport in 2003 and is awarded to the best footballer under the age of 21 currently playing in Europe. Former recipients of the esteemed gong include Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney, Sergio Aguero, and Kylian Mbappe.
We’ve listed the five frontrunners who can receive this highly-coveted accolade.
1. Joao Felix
The 19-year-old has made headlines all over Europe since his breakthrough season with Benfica. The former Benfica player netted 15 goals in 26 games for the Portuguese side and became the first teenager to bag a hat-trick in the UEFA Europa League.
What’s more, the talented tyro played a role as Portugal won the Nations League at the expense of the Netherlands. Atletico Madrid snapped him up this transfer window making him the third-most expensive player in football history.
2. Matthijs de Ligt
Matthijs De Ligt won the Golden Boy award last year after displaying a stellar performance in the Ajax's defence. He helped his boyhood club clinch a domestic double and reach the Champions League semi-final.
He also scooped the Dutch Footballer of the Year award, was named in the Eredivisie Team of the Year and FIFPro World11, while his defensive exploits took the Netherlands to the inaugural Nations League final before securing a big-money move to Italian giants Juventus in the summer.
3. Jadon Sancho
Manchester City youth product, Jadon Sancho has made quite a name for himself since his move to Borrusia Dortmund two years ago. The 19-year-old scored 13 goals and provided 19 assists in all competitions last season, whilst his form has continued into the new campaign with eight goals in just seven appearances.
And that form has spilled over for England as the fledgling talent forced his way into Gareth Southgate’s England side.
4. Kai Havertz
Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Kai Havertz enjoyed a true breakthrough year last season, scoring 20 goals in all competitions and breaking into the senior Germany side. He’s been linked with almost every big club this season, and it remains to be seen where he ends up next season.
Still just 20, he scored his first international goal during the recent international break and is tipped to become one of the world’s best.
5. Mason Mount
Mason Mount had a fantastic loan spell with Derby County last season and he has since taken that form over to Chelsea this campaign, netting four league goals to help the Blues up to fifth, while also earning four international caps for England.
Mount has created the second-most big chances (2), taken on the second-most shots (20) and has registered the second-most touches in the opposition box (28).
5 favourites to win the 2019 Golden Boy award