Twenty players have been nominated for the Golden Boy Award for the best footballer under the age of 21 in Europe.
The candidates, whose names were disclosed on Tuesday by the Italian sports newspaper Tuttosport, must have been born no earlier than 1999 to receive the prize, which will be awarded on 16 December.
Each year, an international jury of football journalists selects the winner of the Golden Boy Award, which has been organised since 2003. Previous winners includes prestigious names such as Rafael Van der Vaart (2003), Wayne Rooney (2004), Lionel Messi (2005), Cesc Fabregas (2006), Sergio Aguëro (2007), Mario Balotelli (2010), Paul Pogba (2013), Raheem Sterling (2014) and Kylian Mbappé (2017).
Last year, the honour fell to young Dutchman Matthijs de Ligt, revealed at Ajax. De Ligt, who has since gone over to Juventus, has again been nominated this year.
However, this season’s hot favourite is Portugal’s Joao Felix. The 19-year-old striker was transferred last summer from Benfica to Atletico Madrid for 126 million euros. He is viewed as the successor of Cristiano Ronaldo in the Portuguese squad.
The young Barcelona player, 16-year-old Ansu Fati, is also in the running, as are Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund) and Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid).
No Belgians have been nominated, unlike previous years when Red Devils Youri Tielemans, Romelu Lukaku, Thibaut Courtois, Zakaria Bakkali, Adnan Januzaj, Divock Origi and Jason Denayer had been on the list.
The full list of nominees for this year is:
Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus), Alphonso Davies (Bayern Münich), Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan), Ansu Fati (Barcelona), Phil Foden (Manchester City), Matteo Guendouzi (Arsenal), Erling Haaland (Salzburg), Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen), Joao Félix (Atlético Madrid), Dejan Joveljic (Eintracht Frankfurt), Moise Kean (Everton), Kang-in Lee (Valencia), Andriy Lunin (Real Valladolid), Donyell Malen (PSV), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Rodrygo Goes (Real Madrid), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Ferrán Torres (Valencia), Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid) and Nicolo Zaniolo (AS Roma).
The Brussels Times