The 40-player shortlist for the 2020 Golden Boy has been announced, and once again there is a smorgasbord of young talent on offer.
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 for their performances over a calendar year.
Former recipients of the esteemed gong include Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney, Sergio Aguero and Kylian Mbappe. Joao Felix was the latest recipient in 2019 for his performances largely for Benfica but also his start to life at Atletico Madrid.
But who from the shortlist (found at the bottom of this article) has made it into our top 10 based on their performances in 2020 so far?
10. Jonathan David (Lille)
Now at Lille, Jonathan David earned his move to France thanks to a wonderful season in the Belgian top flight with Gent. The 20-year-old scored 23 goals across all competitions for Gent, including 10 in 10 games since the turn of 2020 before the early curtailment of the Jupiler Pro League.
Key stat: Jonathan David was involved in 26 goals in 27 Jupiler League games for Gent in 2019/20, more than any other player across the division.
9. Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)
Not many would have expected Bukayo Saka to have had the season he did in 2019/20, let alone doing so as a left-back/wing-back. The 19-year-old was one of Arsenal’s stars last campaign and particularly thrived under Mikel Arteta, helping the Gunners win the FA Cup and Community Shield, while recording an assist in the latter.
Key stat: Bukayo Saka (11) recorded more assists than any Arsenal player across all competitions in 2019/20.
8. Ansu Fati (Barcelona)
Ansu Fati is a wonderful player, there’s no denying that. But his impact over the season was lessened by how little he played, also keeping him from rising higher in these ranks. When he is on the pitch and in full flow, it’s pretty hard to stop Fati and a good full year at Barcelona could see him as one of the favourites for the Golden Boy award in 2021.
Key stat: Ansu Fati became the youngest ever goalscorer in the Spanish national team, at the age of 17 years and 311 days in their win over Ukraine.
7. Dejan Kulusevski (Juventus)
Dejan Kulusevski had an enjoyable 2019/20 campaign, playing well on loan at Parma from Atalanta, which earned a move to Juventus at the start of the calendar year, before continuing to perform at Parma. The 20-year-old Swedish international was far and away Parma’s best player and could translate that form now he has finally linked up with Juventus.
Key stat: Dejan Kulusevski recorded eight assists and 10 goals in 36 Serie A games for Parma last season.
6. Sandro Tonali (AC Milan)
Although Brescia were relegated to Serie B at the end of the 2019/20 campaign, Sandro Tonali was one of the best young players in Serie A and fully deserved his move to AC Milan over the summer, first on loan and then joining permanently next year. The 20-year-old Italian midfielder was the perfect creator from deep, and looks set to light up Italian football for years to come.
Key stat: Sandro Tonali created 68 chances in the 2019/20 Serie A campaign, recording seven assists.
5. Phil Foden (Manchester City)
Phil Foden has been highly-rated for quite some time now but 2020 appears to be the year he has finally broken through. The Englishman marked the return of the Premier League in June with good goalscoring form, and now that David Silva has left, the 2020/21 campaign could be his biggest yet.
Key stat: No player under the age of 21 scored more goals in the Premier League after its break than Phil Foden (five).
4. Eduardo Camavinga (Rennes)
Rennes were excellent in securing Champions League football for 2020/21 and at the heart of their side was Eduardo Camavinga. The midfielder, who is still only 17, may be known more for his defensive work but appears to have now reinvented himself as a box-to-box player, scoring one goal and recording one assist in just three appearances of the new Ligue 1 campaign.
Key stat: Eduardo Camavinga (105) made more tackles than any other Ligue 1 player in the 2019/20 campaign.
3. Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund)
What a 2019/20 season Erling Haaland had. The Norwegian started the campaign at Red Bull Salzburg and scored goals in the league and Champions League. His performances earned him a move to Borussia Dortmund in January, amid links to pretty much every big club in Europe, and he continued to score goals. Haaland ended 2019/20 with 44 goals across all competitions for both Salzburg and Dortmund, despite playing just 40 games.
Key stat: Erling Haaland scored 16 goals in 18 games for Borussia Dortmund in 2020 after joining in January.
2. Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund)
Another Dortmund star, Jadon Sancho had his best season ever in 2019/20, finding the perfect balance between his creativity and finishing. The Englishman was directly involved in 33 goals in the Bundesliga last season, quite often the focal point of Dortmund’s attack and linked up well with the likes of Haaland, Thorgan Hazard and Marco Reus. He is likely to win the award, but for us there is someone who had an even better campaign.
Key stat: Jadon Sancho scored 17 goals and recorded 16 assists in the Bundesliga last season.
1. Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich)
If you compare raw numbers, there were a fair few players who had a better season than Alphonso Davies, but this just isn’t about that. The Canadian started the 2019/20 campaign as a winger but was shifted to left-back to fill a gap. But rather than returning to his natural position, Davies made the left-back role his own and was actually one of the best full-backs in Europe over the campaign. At left-back, Davies helped Bayern win the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League, perfectly using his pace in both defence and attack. The world is at his feet.
Key stat: Alphonso Davies is the first Canadian male player to win the Uefa Champions League.
2020 Golden Boy: Full 40-player shortlist
Marley Ake (Marseille), Adil Aouchiche (Saint-Etienne), Benoit Badiashile (Monaco), Mitchel Bakker (Paris Saint-Germain), Myron Badou (AZ Alkmaar), Dennis Borkowski (RB Leipzig), Eduardo Camavinga (Rennes), Marco Carnesecchi (Atalanta), Rayan Cherki (Lyon), Jonathan David (Lille), Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich), Sergino Dest (Ajax), Sebastiano Esposito (Inter), Fabio Silva (Wolves), Ansu Fati (Barcelona), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Ryan Gravenberch (Ajax), Mason Greenwood (Manchester United), Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund), Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea), Mohamed Ihattaren (PSV Eindhoven), Ozan Kabak (Schalke), Michal Karbownik (Legia), Tanguy-Austin Kouassi (Bayern Munich), Dejan Kulusevski (Juventus), Marcos Antonio (Shakhtar Donetsk), Rafael Camacho (Sporting Club), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Vladyslav Suprjaha (Dynamo Kiev), Dominik Szoboszlai (FC Salzburg), Tomas Esteves (Porto), Tomas Tavares (Benfica), Sandro Tonali (AC Milan), Ferran Torres (Manchester City), Christos Tzolis (PAOK), Vinicius Jr (Real Madrid), Neco Williams (Liverpool).