The 2017 Golden Boy nominees were released on Tuesday 19 September with the footballing world eagerly anticipating who would listed in contention for the coveted young player award. Previous winners have included Wayne Rooney, Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero, Paul Pogba, and most recently, Renato Sanches.
This year’s complete list is as follows: Aaron Martin (RCD Espanyol), Jean-Kevin Leipzig (RB Leipzig), Rodrigo Bentancur (Juventus), Steven Burgwijn (PSV Eindhoven), Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton), Federico Chiesa (Fiorentina), Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona), Amadou Diawara (Napoli), Kasper Dolberg (Ajax), Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Joe Gomez (Liverpool), Benjamin Henrichs (Bayer Leverkusen), Borja Mayoral (Real Madrid), Kylian Mbappe (Paris St-Germain), Emre Mor (Dortmund), Reece Oxford (West Ham), Christian Pulisic (Dortmund), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United), Allan Saint-Maximin (Nice), Dominic Solanke (Liverpool), Theo Hernandez (Real Madrid), Youri Tielemans (Monaco), Enes Unal (Villareal) and Kyle Walker-Peters (Tottenham Hotspur).
But with the twenty-five names shortlisted, realistically only three stand a chance of taking the trophy home. Those include:
The world’s second most expensive player of all time has had a memorable summer. First, he made the move to Barcelona for an estimated £93 million and now he’s been nominated for the prestigious journalist-adjudicated award. The 20-year old enjoyed an impressive campaign last season after completing a switch from Stade Rennais to Dortmund. The forward made 32 appearances in Bundesliga, scoring 6 times and registering 13 assists. His Champions League was equally potent with 2 goals and 6 assists in a mere 10 games. Dembele’s quick, direct game operating from a wider position in a forward three will be perfectly suited to Barcelona’s system and he currently stands as second favourite for the trophy.
The Italian goalkeeper has also been under the spotlight for the third season running after breaking through from the Milan U19’s side into the first team. Donnarumma has asserted himself as Milan’s first choice goalkeeper and rightfully so after a spectacular campaign that saw him play 38 games and keep out the opposition on 12 different occasions; improving on his 11 from the season prior. Thus far, the stopper has 3 clean sheets in 3 Europa League qualifiers along with a clean sheet in the league to his name. After signing a contract extension through to 2021, AC Milan have one of the most promising young talents in the game under their wing.
Number one contender Kylian Mbappe had a remarkable season last time round. This season has seen him rewarded with a loan move to PSG who will nurture his talent on a much bigger platform internationally. The 18-year old featured 29 times for Monaco in Ligue 1 and provided 11 assists in addition to the 15 goals he scored, managing a slightly above 1 in 2 goal to game ratio. This was a significant improvement on the goal and assist that he mustered in 11 games during the previous season. The Champions League also saw a continuation of this incredible form where he registered 6 goals in games for Monaco. It’s undeniable that Mbappe has swept journalists off their feet, and at such a young age, making the most likely candidate for the honour.
Other inclusions from the list that could be considered outside runners for the prize are Marcus Rashford whose rise to prominence has been well-noted by Manchester United and England fans alike. Gabriel Jesus also, who scored 7 goals in 10 appearances for Manchester City in the league last season. But both did not feature heavily enough, nor did they carry the same global impact that the three genuine contenders delivered.
Who do you think will win this award? Let us know in the comments below!