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Top Contenders for the 2020 Golden Boy Award

| October 20, 2020 1:47 am PDT
2020 Golden Boy Award

The 2020 Golden Boy shortlist has now been whittled down to just 20 names, with Europe’s best player under the age of 21 set to receive the coveted award on December 14.

Atletico Madrid starlet Joao Felix scooped the prize last year, but there is a host of new names in contention this time around.

Although eight players feature on the shortlist for the second year in a row, there are plenty of fresh faces. Bundesliga stars Jadon Sancho, Erling Haaland, and Alphonso Davies are among the frontrunners, while EPL youngsters Phil Foden, Mason Greenwood, and Bukayo Saka are also in the mix.

Join me as I look at the top contenders for the 2020 Golden Boy award.

The 20-Man Golden Boy Shortlist

Let’s begin by checking out the revised shortlist for the 2020 Golden Boy award.

  • Mitchel Bakker (PSG)
  • Eduardo Camavinga (Rennes)
  • Jonathan David (Lille)
  • Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich)
  • Sergino Dest (Barcelona)
  • Fabio Silva (Wolves)
  • Ansu Fati (Barcelona)
  • Phil Foden (Manchester City)
  • Ryan Gravenberch (Ajax)
  • Mason Greenwood (Manchester United)
  • Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund)
  • Callum Hudson-Odio (Chelsea)
  • Dejan Kulusevski (Juventus)
  • Rodrygo (Real Madrid)
  • Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)
  • Jason Sancho (Borussia Dortmund)
  • Dominik Szoboszlai (Red Bull Salzburg)
  • Sandro Tonali (AC Milan)
  • Ferran Torres (Manchester City)
  • Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid)

The EPL is the best-represented league this year, with six players currently plying their trade in England’s top division. Spain’s La Liga has four representatives, while the German Bundesliga and France’s Ligue 1 both have three players on the list.

Italy’s Serie A only has two candidates, with the Dutch Eredivisie and the Austrian Bundesliga completing the shortlist with one player each.

Who Are the Top Contenders?

Looking at the shortlist, there are plenty of worthy winners this year. But there are definitely a few players that stand out from the crowd.

Here are the top contenders for the 2020 Golden Boy award.

Alphonso Davies

Bayern Munich’s flying left-back made it onto the 2019 Golden Boy shortlist, but he was somewhat of an unknown quantity last year. However, following a remarkable breakthrough season, Alphonso Davies has to be one of the favorites to win the award this time around.

At just 19, Davies played a pivotal role in Hansi Flick’s treble-winning side. He helped the Bavarians clinch the Bundesliga title and the German Cup before capping off a superb campaign by becoming the first Canadian player to win the Champions League.

From contributing two assists in a 3-1 victory over Tottenham to starring in that 8-2 thrashing of Barcelona back in August, Davies has shone on the European stage throughout 2020.

Not only is Davies devastating going forward, but he is also highly competent at the other end of the pitch. His blistering pace allows him to get up and down the wing with ease, making him a huge threat both in attack and defense.

Having been born in a Ghanaian refugee camp, Davies’ rise to stardom has been nothing short of extraordinary. He made a name for himself in MLS with Vancouver Whitecaps before getting his big break at Bayern, and he is now one of the best young players on the planet.

Jadon Sancho

It feels like Jadon Sancho has been around for a long time, doesn’t it?

Sancho is obviously one of the more established names on this year’s Golden Boy shortlist. In fact, he has just entered his fourth season with Borussia Dortmund. But it is important to remember that the supremely talented Englishman is still just 20.

After racking up a ludicrous 34 goal involvements – 17 goals and 17 assists – in the Bundesliga last season, Sancho became just the fifth player in Europe’s top five leagues to register 15+ goals and 15+ assists in a single season.

When you consider that Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suarez, and Eden Hazard are the only other players to have achieved that feat, you don’t need me to tell you that Sancho is a special talent.

The winger missed out to 2019 Golden Boy Joao Felix, but Sancho’s unrivaled numbers in 2020 make him a worthy winner of this award this year.

Erling Haaland

Another prodigy to benefit from Dortmund’s willingness to give young players first-team opportunities, Erling Haaland is flourishing in the Bundesliga. Everything the Norwegian touches turns to goals, and it really does feel like the sky is the limit for Haaland right now.

On a personal level, the 20-year-old enjoyed a phenomenal 2019/20 campaign. He started the season with Red Bull Salzburg, netting 28 goals in 22 appearances in all competitions, before earning himself a January move to Dortmund.

Unsurprisingly, Haaland picked up where he left of in Austria. He ended the season with 16 goals in 18 games for Dortmund and even managed to finish sixth in the Bundesliga scoring charts, despite playing less than half as many minutes as the top five scorers.

Haaland possesses all the right attributes to become one of the game’s greatest-ever strikers. His pace, height, strength, and finishing already make him one of the most feared players in world soccer, and he is only going to get better.

Don’t get me wrong, Dortmund is a big club. But it is surely only a matter of time before one of Europe’s elite sides comes calling for Haaland.

Ansu Fati

Ansu Fati has already broken countless records in his short professional career. Last season, at just 16 years and 304 days, he became Barcelona’s youngest-ever La Liga goalscorer. Two months later, he became the youngest scorer in Champions League history.

And it seems as though the wunderkind has started the new campaign as he finished the last one. Fati notched up two goals and an assist on the opening day of the 2020/21 La Liga season before becoming the youngest scorer for the Spanish national team.

There is no denying that Fati is well on his way to becoming a world-class star, although he hasn’t made anywhere near as many appearances as the likes of Davies, Sancho, and Haaland. Despite his obvious talent, he could struggle to challenge the Golden Boy frontrunners due to a lack of game-time.

But considering that Fati doesn’t turn 18 until the end of October, he still has plenty of time to hone his skills. Also, training and playing alongside Lionel Messi on a regular basis is only going to enhance his development.

Phil Foden

Following David Silva’s departure from the Etihad Stadium, it could be argued that Phil Foden is now Manchester City’s prime creative midfielder. So, it is only natural that the 20-year-old is included in the Golden Boy conversation this year.

Pep Guardiola has always been reluctant to throw Foden in at the deep end. Over the past couple of seasons, the Man City manager has drip-fed the youngster into his starting XI. But this year, Foden has become one of the first names on Guardiola’s team sheet. 

After the EPL restart last term, Foden bagged five goals in an eye-catching nine-game spell. He has since started each of Man City’s opening four Premier League games this season, scoring in the opening-day victory over Wolves.

At the end of the day, Foden makes the game look easy. The manner with which he glides past his opponents is effortless, and he looks set for a long and successful career both for Man City and the England national team.

Eduardo Camavinga

Eduardo Camavinga is widely regarded as one of the most complete young players in world soccer. The midfielder guided Rennes to Champions League qualification last season and has helped his side go unbeaten in their opening seven Ligue 1 games this term.

Following an outstanding 2019/20 campaign, the teenager was linked with just about every top European club during the summer transfer window. However, Rennes has managed to keep hold of Camavinga, at least for now.

The 17-year-old became the youngest player to appear for the French national team for 106 years when he came off the bench to make his senior debut in September. A month later, he scored an intelligent over-head kick on his first international start.

Camavinga plays with a maturity far beyond his years. Not only did he top the Ligue 1 tackle charts in 2019/20, but he has also started adding goals and assists to his game. Now a genuine all-rounder, Camavinga is destined to win the Golden Boy award before he turns 21.

There may be more likely winners this year, but the young Frenchman will surely get his hands on the trophy sooner rather than later.

Sandro Tonali

Dubbed the next Andrea Pirlo, Sandro Tonali followed in the footsteps of the Italian World Cup winner by swapping Brescia for Milan in September. Earlier in the year, Pirlo himself even described the young star as the best player in Serie A, and that is seriously high praise. 

The 20-year-old has gained a reputation as one of the most gifted midfielders of his generation. Best known for his incredible passing range and two-footed ability, the playmaker is capable of singlehandedly orchestrating games as a quarterback. 

Tonali was the bright spot in an otherwise gloomy 2019/20 season for Brescia, and although the youngster was unable to prevent the club from relegation, he shone throughout the campaign. 

But with AC Milan winning the race to secure his signature, Tonali now has the opportunity to prove himself at one of Europe’s most prestigious clubs. Indeed, the Rossoneri has won each of their opening seven games this term, with Tonali featuring on every occasion. 

Closing Thoughts

Previous Golden Boy winners include Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney, and Sergio Aguero. Each of those players have gone on to enjoy hugely successful careers, so claiming the award is a promising sign for any rising star.

I believe the three Bundesliga youngsters – Sancho, Haaland, and Davies – all stand an excellent chance of scooping the prize this year. But following an outstanding year, Camavinga also has to be in the conversation.

When the bookies’ release the betting odds for the 2020 Golden Boy, you will be able to find a prediction post over in our soccer picks section.

Ben Morris
Ben Morris

Ben is a sportswriter and tipster who specializes in soccer. Currently based in the UK, he has traveled all around the world watching – and betting on – his beloved sport.

Alongside his regular soccer content, Ben publishes blogs and picks for cricket, Formula 1, Aussie rules, darts, and various other sports.

Ben is a diehard fan of Nottingham Forest and England, so he hasn’t had much to cheer about in recent years!

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