The five-man short list for the 2018 Golden Boy award has been announced and, in a somewhat perplexing turn of events, it doesn’t include the one player you’d think was nailed on to win it.
As doled out by Italian sports newspaper Tuttosport, the Golden Boy is a prestigious accolade awarded annually to the best player under the age of 21 across Europe’s top leagues, with previous winners including Sergio Aguero, Paul Pogba, Isco, Raheem Sterling and Lionel Messi.
After being included on the initial 40-man long list, it was widely assumed that Kylian Mbappe would be a shoe-in to claim the 2018 award just as he did the 2017 edition (especially now that he’s won a World Cup in between), but no – there shall be no back-to-back honours for the PSG prodigy.
Indeed, the final five are as follows:
Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax)
Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid)
Patrick Cutrone (AC Milan)
Justin Kluivert (Roma)
The winner will now be determined by a panel of 30 journalists representing 20 premier European sport publications such as MARCA, Bild and L’Equipe.
Decent as they all are, can any of those five listed players truly claim to have had a more stellar start to their career than Mbappe? The answer is clear and stark: Non.