The Golden Boy award is one of the most coveted prizes for the upcoming superstars in world football.
The award recognizes their feats over the course of a calendar year. The 40-man shortlist for the 2022 award was released recently as some talented teenagers and sought-after players were named on the list.
No player has ever won the Golden Boy award twice
The Golden Boy award is given to the best player aged under 21 who plays in a European nation’s top tier. It is interesting to note that no player has won the accolade twice.
Regardless, that could change this year as the 40-man nominee list has some familiar names as well as some some surprising inclusions.
On that note, let’s take a look at 5 favorites for the 2022 Golden Boy award.
#5 Benjamin Sesko | RB Salzburg
Benjamin Sesko, despite only turning 19 six months ago, has been the talk of the town in the Austrian Bundesliga.
The Slovenian scored 11 times and provided seven assists in 37 games across all competitions last season as RB Salzburg won the Championship. Following a summer where he was linked with a few top clubs across Europe, he has carried that form into the ongoing campaign.
Sesko has already bagged four goals and two assists in just 12 appearances across all competitions for the Austrian outfit.
Given his talent & potential, the Slovenian will be backed to go beyond the goal tally he reached last season. Sesko is uncharacteristically fast for somebody so tall, while his ability to create chances and goals out of nothing is just as admirable.
It would surprise very few people if Sesko wins the 2022 Golden Boy award, especially if he continues his fine performances this year.
#4 Jamal Musiala | Bayern Munich
Jamal Musiala’s development into a top midfielder has been rather quick since the youngster departed Chelsea’s academy in 2019 to join Bayern Munich.
Musiala has developed into a versatile option for the German national team, for whom he is already starting on a regular basis. Bayern Munich boss Julian Nagelsmann is a fan of promoting young talent and the youngster certainly ticks all the boxes for one. At just 19 years of age, the German international has a fine understanding of the game and is highly creative in the final third of the pitch.
The attacking midfielder racked up 40 appearances across all competitions last season and managed to score eight goals while also providing eight assists. Incredibly, he looks likely to outdo both those tallies from last season in the 2022-23 campaign.
In just 10 matches across all competitions, Musiala has already scored six goals and laid out three assists.
The youngster is likely to form the bedrock of Bayern Munich’s future teams and is more than deserving of the 2022 Golden Boy award.
#3 Josko Gvardiol | RB Leipzig
Josko Gvardiol is one of the finest young centre-backs in world football at the moment and his club, RB Leipzig, seem to be aware of his incredible potential.
The Bundesliga side recently handed the defender a new five-year contract after Chelsea were reportedly keen on signing him next summer, according to Fabrizio Romano. The Blues might also consider making a move for him in January 2023 despite his contract renewal with Leipzig, as per Standard Sport.
A modern ball-playing centre-back with supreme aerial abilities, Gvardiol is adept at dealing with some of the best centre-forwards in the game. His ability to intercept key passes and play a high-line are also extremely valuable qualities for some of the top teams in Europe.
Gvardiol might join a big club in the near future and few would question whether the centre-back deserves the 2022 Golden Boy award.
#2 Pedri | Barcelona
Pedri Gonzalez, who won the 2021 Golden Boy award, could make history by winning the accolade this year as well.
The Barcelona midfielder has been at the center of Xavi Hernandez’s rebuild at the Spotify Camp Nou since the end of last year. His all-round abilities, which enable him to contribute at both ends of the pitch, coupled with his undeniable potential, have been key to his quick emergence at the club.
Although he struggled with a few injuries last season, Pedri still managed to score five times and provide an assist in 22 appearances across all competitions.
The Spaniard has played all eight of the Blaugrana’s games this season and has looked like their best midfielder despite competing with more experienced players. Pedri could very well win the Golden Boy award again this year, having played some of his best football in the ongoing campaign.
#1 Jude Bellingham | Borussia Dortmund
Jude Bellingham is likely to be the front-runner for the 2022 Golden Boy award following his formidable performances for Borussia Dortmund this year.
The central midfielder, who has quickly become one of the most sought-after players in world football, has seen his stock rise tremendously in 2022. His creativity, box-to-box style of play and sensational dribbling abilities have caught the eye of a number of clubs across Europe.
It is no surprise that Liverpool are reportedly keen on his signature next summer (as per Christian Falk).
The England star played 44 games across all competitions for Dortmund last season, scoring six goals and providing 14 assists. He has been just as valuable this season as well, with three goals in 10 appearances for the German outfit.
Two of those goals have come in as many UEFA Champions League fixtures, including an instinctive header to open the scoring against Manchester City.
If Bellingham manages to win the 2022 Golden Boy award, he will become the only Englishman in history to achieve the accolade while playing outside the Premier League.