Wayne Rooney. Lionel Messi. Sergio Aguero. These are just some of the acclaimed names to have won the Golden Boy award in the past.
First introduced in 2003, the trophy is awarded to a player under the age of 21 who is deemed the most impressive performer across a calendar year. Voting is done via sports journalists and the winner must be from Europe.
The shortlist for 2019 has now been announced and inevitably, so have the betting odds too. We've looked into Paddy Power's prices for the potential winner, with there being two standout names at the top of the frontrunners.
Joao Felix the favourite
113 million pounds for an 18-year-old. Inflation has well and truly hit the football transfer market hard.
Many were left stunned last summer when Atletico Madrid shelled this amount for Joao Felix, the exciting and explosive talent that had been making significant progress at Benfica. The Portuguese forward broke onto the scene last season with his boyhood club, registering 15 league goals in just 26 appearances.
Since his debut, Felix has been somewhat of a record breaker. He became the youngest-ever scorer in the Lisbon Derby, with many teams in the division failing to live with the raw ability that this attacker possesses. After making waves in Portugal, Felix soon caught the attention from the whole of Europe, when he became the youngest ever player to score a hat-trick in the Europa League.
With 20 goals across all competitions and a Portuguese title under his belt, Diego Simeone felt there was enough talent on show to break the bank for this promising star last summer. Many questioned how Felix would adapt to such a higher tier side in a more competitive league, but these concerns have been quickly squashed.
The Portuguese sensation has settled in nicely in the Spanish capital, already scoring twice in La Liga and once in the Champions League. Felix is given a licence to roam around the final third in Simeone's side and such freedom has seen the 19-year-old create chances upon chances for his teammates. At 6/4, he is the current favourite to win the Golden Boy award.
Jadon Sancho second in line
Just behind Felix in the run-in is another 19 year-old in Jadon Sancho.
The Borussia Dortmund winger has been on an incredible rise over the last couple of years, with his performances last season cementing his status in being recognised as one of Europe's most deadliest attackers. Playing out on the right, Sancho registered 13 goals and 19 assists in all competitions, with such momentum being carried into this season.
In just 7 Bundesliga games, the Englishman has scored 3 times and assisted 6 goals, with such stats justifying the 19 year-old's short 21/10 price to win the award. Sancho has also got off the mark for England this year, scoring twice in 7 appearances for the Three Lions.
Not only are his statistics impressive for a player of such a young age, it's his maturity on the pitch that brings in the plaudits too. Sancho has been an integral member of Lucien Favre's hard-working and dynamic side for over 2 years now, with his game being taken up a notch over the last 12 months.
At 21/10, he will be a popular pick with punters, as such an impressive goal output will help the attacker's cause.
Matthijs de Ligt given outside chance
After reaching the Champions League semi-finals last season, it felt as though many of Ajax's young stars became superstars overnight. Of all the promising figures in their squad though, not many received more praise than Matthijs de Ligt.
The club captain demonstrated his impressive leadership qualities last season, with the centre-back becoming one of Europe's most prized possessions in the transfer market. Juventus were the club that snapped up de Ligt's signature, a move that highlights just how impressive the defender has been over the last 12 months.
The Italian champion's strong start to the season will help de Ligt's Golden Boy chances too, with Juventus sitting on top of the table with the best defensive record in the division. Having featured 5 times in Serie A and twice in the Champions League, it's clear that the defender is contributing to such success. At 11/2, he is a selection that holds big value in this betting market.
Golden Boy underdogs to win
Moving onto the big underdogs now and Vinicius Junior has been given a price of 16/1 to win the award. The Real Madrid forward has only really emerged on the senior stage this season though, hence his large odds. With 5 La Liga appearances already, Zinedine Zidane is clearly trusting the Brazilian more, but he may be one to watch for next season's award instead.
Kai Havertz is another name that has been given a big outside chance at 20/1. This price may surprise fellow bettors, as the midfielder ended last season with 17 league goals. He's now an important figure in Joachim Löw's Germany squad too, picking up 2 assists in 3 qualifying games. You can't help but feel that such a price comes from the fact that he plays for a club with a lower pedigree than his fellow contenders.
Mason Mount has also been given a price of 20/1, with the midfielder also catching the eye through his own goalscoring abilities. The Englishman already has 4 goals in 8 Premier League games, but his large odds are due to the award being judged on the past 12 months. He did impress with Derby earlier on in the year, but journalists will take into consideration the level of football being played in comparison to the other members on this list.
Odds to win 2019 Golden Boy Award
All of the mentioned odds have been taken from Paddy Power - have a punt on the market here.
- Joao Felix = 6/4
- Jadon Sancho = 21/10
- Matthijs de Ligt = 11/2
- Vinicius Junior = 16/1
- Kai Havertz = 20/1
- Mason Mount = 20/1
- Phil Foden = 25/1
- Ansu Fati = 25/1
- Nicolo Zaniolo = 30/1
- Rodrygo = 33/1
- Erling Haaland = 33/1
- Matteo Guendouzi = 40/1