The annual journey to name the “Golden Boy” of football has begun.
It’s a months-long process to determine the best under-21 player, which starts with a shortlist (long list?) of 100 names that is whittled down with the help of a public vote 20 at a time until October. The ultimate winner is then chosen from the 20 remaining at that time by a panel of journalists, and announced in December.
Chelsea, thanks to our world class Academy, usually have a few names in the running, at least in the initial rounds. Mason “€100m-man” Mount did make the final 20 last year only to unsurprisingly lose out Atlético Madrid’s João Félix, who continued the streak of never having a repeat winner (not even Lionel Messi, 2005, or Kylian Mbappé, 2017). No Chelsea player has ever won it, though Cesc Fàbregas, 2006, and Alexandre Pato, 2009, did so a decade before turning out for the Blues.
As usual, it’s another strong field this year, and none of Chelsea’s nominees should be considered favorites. But it’s still great recognition for the quartet, which includes Callum Hudson-Odoi, Billy Gilmour, Tino Anjorin, and Ethan Ampadu. Both Hudson-Odoi and Ampadu have missed long stretches with injuries, while Gilmour and Anjorin are very much newcomers on the scene.
All four remain eligible for the award for a couple more years, so they could certainly be in the running for the eventual winner someday soon. Until then, congrats on the nominations, boys!
You can check out the full list of nominees and vote for your favorites on Tuttosport. I’m not going to list out all 100 names, but I’d say the favorites would have to be Erling Håland, Jadon Sancho, and Alphonso Davies.