Nigeria and Manchester City attacker, Kelechi Iheanacho, his Arsenal FC compatroit, Alex Iwobi and Manchester United’s red hot striker, Marcus Rashford lead a host of young football talent nominees who ply their trade in European football for the 2016 Golden Boy Award. This follows their explosive displays for their respective clubs in the year under review.
Tottenham Hotspur attacking midfielder, Bamidele Alli who has Nigeria blood in him but chose to represent England in the 2016 Euro’s also makes the list.
The annual award is given by sports journalists to the most impressive under-21 player based in a European club, and was established by Italian sports newspaper Tutttosport in 2003. Newspapers that now participate in voting include Bild (Germany), Blick (Switzerland), A Bola (Portugal), l’Équipe (France), France Football (France), Marca (Spain), Mundo Deportivo (Spain), Ta Nea (Greece), Sport Express (Russia), De Telegraaf (Netherlands), and The Times (United Kingdom).
Iheanacho has enjoyed a terrific 2016, scoring excellent goals and most importantly has held his head high up in the absence of City’s main stiker and Argentina forward, Sergio Aguero. And City’s new coach Pep Guardiola trusts him so much that he sanctioned the offloading of Cote D’Ivoire’s Wilfried Bony.
Likewise, Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi has been instrumental to many things good in the Gunner’s midfied in his 2016 breakout year. Many Arsenal and Nigeria fans tip him to go ahead and be a mainstay in the Super Eagles, even saying he could surpass fan favorite and his cousin, Jay Jay Okocha.
But most pundits expect Marcus Rashford to join fellow united players Wayne Rooney (2004) and Anthony Martial (2016) by winning this years crown because he enjoyed a dazzling year at club and international level, scoring on his debuts in the Premier League, UEFA Europa League and EFL Cup, not to mention his England and England under-21 heroics.
Strongest competition for Rashford is expected to come from players such as Renato Sanches (Bayern Munich), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Ousmane Dembélé (Borrusia Dortmund), Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan), Leroy Sane (Manchester City) and Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur).
No club have had as many players win the Golden Boy award as Manchester United. The Old Trafford club have had three winners, not including Pogba, and no other club has managed to get more than one. Should Rashford win the award, then Manchester United’s four wins will see the club standout even more in the history of the Golden Boy award.
The full list of 40 Golden Boy nominees for 2016
Alli Bamidele Jermaine (Tottenham Hotspur)
Asensio Marco Willemsen (Real Madrid)
Leon Bailey (Racing Genk)
Bazoer Riechedly (Ajax)
Boschilia Gabriel (Monaco)
Brandt Julian (Bayer Leverkusen)
Carlos Fernández Luna (Sevilla)
Christensen Andreas (Borussia Mönchengladbach)
Coman Kingsly (Bayern Munich)
Coric Ante (Dinamo Zagreb)
Diawara Amadou (Napoli)
Dahoud Mahmoud (Borussia Mönchengladbach)
Danilo Barbosa da Silva (Benfica)
Dembélé Moussa (Celtic)
Dembélé Ousmane (Borussia Dortmund)
Donnarumma Gianluigi (AC Milan)
Embolo Breel-Donald (Schalke 04)
Gabriel Barbosa Almeida (Internazionale)
Golovin Aleksandr Sergeevic (CSKA Moscow)
Gonçalo Manuel Ganchininho Guedes (Benfica)
Gray Demarai Ramelle (Leicester City)
Grujic Marko (Liverpool)
Halilovic Alen (Hamburger SV)
Iheanacho Kelechi (Manchester City)
Iwobi Alex (Arsenal)
Kovalenko Viktor (Shakhtar Donetsk)
Loftus-Cheek Ruben (Chelsea)
Hernández Lucas (Atletico Madrid)
Mammana Emanuel (Olympique Lyonnais)
Nathan Allan de Souza (Vitesse)
Ntcham Jules Olivier (Genoa)
Rashford Marcus (Manchester United)
Renato Júnior Luz Sanches (Bayern Munich)
Riedewald Jairo (Ajax)
Rúben Diogo da Silva Neves (Porto)
Sanabria Arnaldo Antonio Ayala (Real Betis)
Sané Leroy (Manchester City)
Tah Jonathan Glao (Bayer Leverkusen)
Tielemans Youri (Anderlecht)
Touré Almamy (Monaco)
Past winners of the award include:
2015 – Anthony Martial (Manchester United and France)
2014 – Raheem Sterling (Liverpool and England)
2013 – Paul Pogba (Juventus and France)
2012 – Isco (Malaga and Spain)
2011 – Mario Gotze (Borrussia Dortmund and Germany)
2010 – Mario Balotelli (Manchester City and Italy)
2009 – Alexandre Pato (AC Milan and Brazil)
2008 – Anderson (Manchester United and Brazil)
2007 – Sergio Aguero (Atletico Madrid and Argentina)
2006 – Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal and Spain
2005 – Lionel Messi (Barcelona and Argentina)