The Golden Boy award recognised the outstanding player under the age of 21 in European football, and 40 players from across the continent have been nominated for the honour this year.
Previous winners include Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney, and Sergio Aguero, and most of the past recipients have gone on to have excellent careers. The award is voted for by journalists from 30 newspapers around the world, and the winner will be revealed in December.
Paris Saint-Germain defender Marquinhos is amongst this year’s nominees after an impressive first season at the club. PSG paid around £30 million to sign the 20-year-old from Roma last season, even though he had only played in Europe for one year. Paying such a large for for a player with such little experience brings great pressure, but Marquinhos dealt with it admirably.
He’s very composed, strong in the air, and excellent in possession. Here’s the story of Marquinhos’ Golden Boy nomination.
Major honours in the calendar year
PSG paid a significant sum to sign Marquinhos, but the fee reflected the player they believe he will eventually become. He started the season as back-up to Thiago Silva and Alex, though he eventually made 21 appearances in PSG’s title-winning campaign, during which they set a new record for most Ligue 1 points in a season (89).
PSG also won the French League Cup, but Marquinhos didn’t feature in the final against Lyon.
The young centre-back wasn’t in the Brazil squad that was humbled on home soil by Germany during this summer’s World Cup, but he made his first start for the Selecao against Colombia in September.
PSG like to control the game, and Marquinhos’ confident use of the ball allows them to start attacks from defence. He completed 91% of his passes last season, and that has risen to 93% this year.
Of course, he is primarily in the team to prevent the opposition from scoring, and he won 70% of his aerial duels last season, as well as 63% of his tackles. He also only gave away 0.65 fouls per 90 minutes, demonstrating his ability to win the ball cleanly.
Why he deserves his nomination
Many players in Marquinhos’ position would have struggled last year – he joined a club in a new country, for an enormous sum, at a very young age – but he played with real assurance in defence.
David Luiz arrived from Chelsea for £50 million during the summer, but Thiago Silva has struggled with injury, and Marquinhos has not let Laurent Blanc down when he has been called upon in the current campaign.
Does he deserve to win?
Marquinhos is undoubtedly an outstanding young talent, and he will only continue to improve as he gains more experience. These awards tend to go to attacking players though, and the Golden Boy is likely to go to someone that was more decisive for their team.
Marquinhos has only started 17 of a possible 31 league games for PSG in 2014, and the likes of Raheem Sterling and Hakan Calhanoglu have played a more important role for their respective clubs.