The nominees for the coveted Golden Boy award for 2017 were announced on Tuesday, with some of Europe’s most precocious talents making up a 25 man shortlist, ahead of the official announcement of the winner in October.
As a result of the nominees being announced, we decided to take a look at the front-runners for the award, previously won by the likes of Wayne Rooney, Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero…
Christian Pulisic – Borussia Dortmund
The 19-year-old has enjoyed an exceptional year for club and country, in which he broke numerous records in both the Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund and with the USA national team.
The United States international’s accolades include becoming the youngest foreigner to score in Germany’s top-flight, as well as becoming the youngest player ever to notch a brace in the division soon after.
On the international scene, Pulisic became the youngest player in the modern era to score for the United States at 17 years and 253 days, whilst also becoming the youngest American to score in a World Cup qualifier at 17 years and 349 days.
Youri Tielemans – AS Monaco
The Belgium international has been considered one of the most prodigious talents in Europe for some time now, and further enhanced his reputation as just that in the last year.
The 20-year-old earned a £21.6m move to Ligue 1 champions Monaco this summer, after making 139 appearances for Anderlecht, becoming the youngest Belgian to play in the Champions League during his time at the Pro League outfit at just 16 years and 148 days.
He was voted into last season’s Europa League Squad of the Season, and also has two Pro League titles and a Belgium Super Cup to his name.
Theo Hernandez – Real Madrid
The Atletico Madrid academy graduate joined his maiden club’s arch rivals Real Madrid this summer, signing a six-year deal for a fee of £22.8m.
Surprisingly, the 19-year-old never made a first team appearance for Atletico, as Real snapped him up after a scintillating season-long loan spell at Alaves under the now Southampton boss Mauricio Pellegrino.
Akin to a young Gareth Bale, ‘Theo’ has been heavily compared to the Welshman through the fact that he is a left back who can attack at will with ease. The Frenchman scored a phenomenal free-kick in the Copa del Rey final against Barcelona, and will hope to be the heir to Marcelo’s throne at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Gianluigi Donnarumma – AC Milan
Donnarumma is arguably the best young goalkeeper in world football, currently holding the record for the second youngest keeper ever to debut in Serie A at 16 years and 242 days.
The 18-year-old stands at a freakish 6′ 5″ tall – defying his years – and is also the youngest goalkeeper ever to play for the Italian national team making his debut aged 17 years and 189 days.
The Milan academy graduate is seen as Italy’s heir to Gianluigi Buffon’s throne once the icon has retired, and there is no reason why the youngster cannot emulate him.
Marcus Rashford – Manchester United
The 19-year-old put his name up in lights back in 2016 on his first ever start for United, scoring twice in the Europa League Round of 32 against Midjytlland, and hasn’t looked back since.
Rashford has gone on to score on his Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup, Champions League and England debuts, gaining a reputation as a fearless youngster in the process.
The United academy graduate, as aforementioned, scored on his senior England debut, and in doing so became the nation’s youngest ever goalscorer.
Gabriel Jesus – Manchester City
The Brazilian starlet burst onto the scene in his home nation at Palmeiras before moving to the Premier League with City in a deal worth around £27m, a true bargain in this market.
The 20-year-old marked his arrival in England’s top-flight by scoring seven goals and assisting a further four in just 11 appearances for the Citizens, and has continued that blistering form into this season.
Jesus has struck up a formidable partnership with former Golden Boy Sergio Aguero early on in the 2017/18 campaign, and has also recorded five goals in nine games for the Brazilian national team in his career which is full of raw star potential.
Ousmane Dembele – FC Barcelona
The France international became the second most expensive player of all time this summer, when Barcelona shelled out a sum of around £138.4m to Borussia Dortmund for the 20-year-old’s services.
Dembele burst onto the scene at Rennes, scoring 12 goals and assisting five more in his first senior campaign, and was promptly snapped up by Dortmund.
It was in Germany that the youngster rose to prominence, scoring eight and assisting a staggering 18 goals in all competitions for the Bundesliga side, and he will now look to further his career at the Nou Camp having inherited Neymar’s famed number 11 shirt.
Kylian Mbappe – Paris Saint-Germain
Kylian Mbappe has emerged from relative obscurity to become the most feared youngster in world football and undoubtedly the favourite for the Golden Boy award for 2017.
The 18-year-old only made his professional debut in 2015, but really rose to prominence last season as he amassed 24 goals and eight assists in just 26 appearances as Monaco won the Ligue 1 title.
As a way of avoiding Financial Fair Play regulations, PSG took the starlet on loan for the 2017/18 campaign with the obligation to buy Mbappe for an astronomical fee of £166.4m, which would make him the second most expensive player of all time behind his fellow Parisian Neymar.