Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe recently picked up the 2017 Golden Boy award. We review the 15 black players that made the 25-man shortlist
Awards season seems to come round so fast. 2016’s Golden Boy Renato Sanches didn’t make the cut this year. The 20-year-old, now on loan at Swansea from Bayern Munich, had a difficult first season in the Bundesliga and will be looking to showcase his undoubted ability in the Premier League.
However, the likes of Ousmane Dembele – currently the world’s third most expensive player – made the cut again this year, as did Amadou Diawara, Marcus Rashford and Youri Tielemans, all of whom had great 2016/17 campaigns.
Jean-Kevin Augustin (RB Leipzig) | After impressing for eventual winners France at the 2016 European Under-19 Championship, the 20-year-old finished as the competition’s top scorer, and was also crowned the player of the tournament. No doubt his exploits at the championships, held in Germany, caught the attention of Bundesliga side RB Leipzig, who parted with £13m to secure his services from Paris-Saint Germain.
Steven Bergwijn (PSV Eindhoven) | A former Ajax youth-team player, the pacey winger moved to PSV in 2011 at the tender age of 14. Now 20, the forward is flourishing under the guidance of coach Phillip Cocu and has become a first-team regular. Last season he made 25 appearances in the Eredivisie and scored two goals. He’s already tallied up 14 league appearances this campaign, and has registered two goals and two assists so far.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin (Everton) | Not many players can say they’ve scored the winning goal in a World Cup final. This young Everton striker can, though, after scoring the only goal in the game against Venezuela in this year’s Under-20 World Cup. The forward, who can also play in midfield, joined Everton in 2016 from Sheffield United and only made his Premier League debut last December. The 20-year-old World Cup winner is now looking to establish himself as a regular in Sam Allardyce’s side.
2017 Golden Boy Runner-up Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona) | Much like the movement of this attacking wizard on the wing, the past 12 months were a bit of a whirlwind for the young Frenchman. The former Rennes player took to life with ease in Germany after joining Borussia Dortmund as a 19-year-old. The 2016/17 campaign saw ‘Mosquito’, as he’s affectionately known by his team-mates, show off his exploits, demonstrating why he’s considered one of the best young talents in the game. His debut season numbers were devastatingly good for Dortmund: 42 appearances, eight goals and 18 assists.
It’s little wonder why Barcelona parted with £97m, a fee that could rise to £135.5m, which makes him the third most expensive player of all time. Back in September, and just three games in to his career in Spain, Dembele sustained a thigh injury that would rule him out for at least four months. Now back in full training and with it being a World Cup year, the Frenchman will no doubt be looking to pick up from where he left off and remind Europe and the world why Barca parted with such a huge sum to secure his services.
Amadou Diawara (Napoli) | Born in Conakry, Guinea, Diawara – who also made the Golden Boy shortlist last year – has played all of his professional club football in Italy so far. Towards the backend of last season there was talk of him being called up to represent the Azzurri after finalising citizenship papers. This season has seen the 20-year-old solidify his spot among Europe’s elite young talent with consistent displays and he opened up his goalscoring account in this season’s Champions League, striking a fierce penalty against Manchester City in the group stages.
Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City) | It was one of the most hyped transfers of the 2017 January transfer window, and it’s fair to say he arrived from Brazil on a hype after helping them clinch Olympic gold in the 2016 games. To Jesus’ credit, he has impressed since his move from Palmeiras and is rightly regarded as one of City’s key men. The 20-year-old, who finished fourth overall, looks more than capable of replacing the club’s record-breaking striker Sergio Aguero as the main man up top when the time comes.
Joe Gomez (Liverpool) | The 2017/18 season will live long in the memory for the versatile defender. Just as comfortable at centre-back as he is at right-back, which is where he’s most frequently deployed at Liverpool, the 20-year-old was called up to the England senior squad back in November and was named man of the match after his debut, where he kept Neymar’s Brazil side at bay. A place in Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad is as good as his, should he stay clear of injuries.
Benjamin Henrichs (Bayer Leverkusen) | Born in Germany to a German father and Ghanaian mother, Henrichs is the type of player every club aspires to bring through its ranks. The midfielder turned defender started out in Leverkusen’s under-eights and worked his way through the age group teams all the way to the first team. He made his senior debut for Germany in November 2016 and was part of Joachim Lowe’s victorious Confederation Cup squad.
2017 Golden Boy Winner Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain) | He is arguably the most exciting talent around right now, regardless of age. The Paris Saint-Germain forward was the talk of the footballing world before his record-breaking move from Monaco – initially a loan that will become permanent next summer, costing PSG a light £166m making him the second most expensive player of all time.
Often likened to his compatriot Thierry Henry and the Brazilian Ronaldo, Mbappe possesses qualities that frighten the opposition. He’s quick, skilful and plays with an intelligence beyond his years. Not only is the French striker breaking records off the pitch, he’s doing so on the pitch also. The 18-year-old (yes, just 18) became the youngest player ever to score 10 goals in the Champions League – six for Monaco in the 2016/17 campaign and four in this season’s competition to date.
He finished seventh in the 2017 Ballon d’Or rankings, becoming the youngest ever player to appear in the top 10, and he won this year’s Golden Boy award by an overwhelming but not surprising 291 votes. The game seems to have another Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi on its hands. You can see the individual accolades coming year in, year out, as well as club honours, and with the embarrassing amount of riches in the France squad, international success could also be on the cards for Mbappe.
Reece Oxford (Borussia Mönchengladbach) | It’s a relatively comfortable life for English academy players, so what’s the point of stepping out of the comfort zone? To his credit Oxford, 18, tasked himself with the challenge of experiencing a totally different league, country and culture when he decided to join Mönchengladbach in the summer. The defender, on loan from West Ham until the end of the season, is looking to get a taste for the Bundesliga and return to east London a more accomplished player.
Marcus Rashford (Manchester United) | 2016’s runner-up and now considered an important member of the United team, Rashford embodies everything that is good about Jose Mourinho’s youthful, attack-minded side. His direct style of play is easy on the eye. He plays with a refreshing fearlessness and seems to be growing season after season. It’s little wonder why he finished third overall this year. Don’t be surprised if Rashford is one of England’s standout players at next year’s World Cup in Russia.
Allan Saint-Maximin (OGC Nice) | The 20-year-old joined Nice from Monaco back in August following a personally successful season out on loan at Bastia. The tricky winger has already experienced football away from his native France after a loan spell in the German Bundesliga with Hannover. A fixture in the France Under-20 side, Saint-Maximin looks to have finally found a place that he can call home in the lovely south of France.
Dominic Solanke (Liverpool) | 2017 has been a year to remember for Solanke – World Cup success with England Under-20s, a high-profile transfer from Chelsea to Liverpool and a call-up to the senior England squad in November where he came on for 15 minutes against Brazil at Wembley. Before making his senior international debut, Solanke was on Nigeria’s radar, the country of his father’s birth, but it looks like the 20-year-old has opted for England.
Youri Tielemans (Monaco) | Like Dembele, Diawara and Rashford, Tielemans also made last year’s Golden Boy shortlist. Since then the 20-year-old has joined current French champions Monaco and was enjoying a decent run in the side before suffering a horrible meniscus injury back in November. After undergoing surgery, the midfielder is aiming to return in the early part of 2018.
Kyle Walker-Peters (Tottenham) | Another member of the victorious England Under-20 World Cup winning side, the last six months will live long in the memory of the Tottenham defender. After patiently biding his time in Spurs’ under-21s side, Walker-Peters made his senior debut away at Newcastle in the opening game of the season and was awarded the game’s man of the match for his mature display at St. James’ Park. A new contract for the 20-year-old was announced days after.