The Golden Boy award is one of the most prestigious individual prizes awarded to footballers under the age of 21. Italian magazine Tuttosport started handing out the award back in 2003, with the first winner being Rafael van der Vaart. Previous winners also include the likes of Lionel Messi, Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe and others.
At present, football journalists from several countries take part in the voting process to determine the Golden Boy winner. They are supposed to pick five players from the list of 25 nominees, and the one with the most points in the end is proclaimed winner .
Last season, the Golden Boy award went to Barcelona’s breakthrough midfielder Gavi. He is not on the list of nominees this year since the prize has a new winner each year.
Full List of Golden Boy 2023 Nominees
The final list of 25 nominees was published by Tuttosport on October 12, and the names range from already established stars like Jude Bellingham to up and coming players outside Europe’s top five divisions. The awards ceremony is scheduled for December 4 in Turin, Italy.
|Jude Bellingham||Real Madrid|
|Jamal Musiala||Bayern Munich|
|Xavi Simons||RB Leipzig|
|Florian Wirtz||Bayer Leverkusen|
|Benjamin Sesko||RB Leipzig|
|Rasmus Hojlund||Manchester United|
|Johan Bakayoko||PSV Eindhoven|
|Arthur Vermeer||Royal Antwerp|
|Evan Ferguson||Brighton & Hove Albion|
|Lucas Gourna-Douath||Red Bull Salzburg|
|Ousmane Diamonde||Sporting CP|
|Mathys Tel||Bayern Munich|
|Arda Guler||Real Madrid|
|Bilal El Khannouss||Genk|
|Martin Baturina||Dinamo Zagreb|
The leading candidate to win the 2023 Golden Boy award has to be Jude Bellingham. The English midfielder had an impressive season with Borussia Dortmund last year and has also started strong at his new club Real Madrid. He was one of the top transfers of the summer as he signed for Los Blancos in a move worth €103 million plus add-ons.
Speaking about last season, Bellingham’s BVB was just one game away from winning their first Bundesliga title since 2011/12. Unfortunately, the 20-year-old did not take part in that crucial game due to an injury.
Nevertheless, Bellingham's excellent season with Dortmund is confirmed by his numbers, as he scored 14 goals and provided seven assists in 42 appearances. Jude also played an important role for England at the 2022 FIFA World Cup where he started every match, scored a goal and provided an assist as the Three Lions reached the quarterfinals.
Another youngster who played the 2022/23 season in the Bundesliga is Jamal Musiala. The German midfielder was an undisputed starter at Bayern Munich despite his age and was of crucial importance in their title conquest. He also won the DFB-Supercup with the Bavarians.
An attacking midfielder, Musiala contributed with a massive 16 goals and 16 assists in 47 matches across all competitions. Highlights of his solo dribbling and impossible passes would often pop up on social media too, proving that his performances weren't only about numbers.
On the other hand, though, Musiala had a poor showing at the 2022 FIFA World Cup just like the rest of the Germany national team. And unlike Bellingham, Jamal doesn’t have that endearing underdog story to tell as Bayern have been dominating Bundesliga for over a decade now.
There seems to be a new breakthrough player at Barcelona every year, and the 2022/23 campaign brought us Alejandro Balde.
In his first season at the top level, the 19-year-old contributed with one goal and seven assists in 44 matches, which is not bad at all for a left-back. But his most impressive achievement, of course, is benching club veteran Jordi Alba.
Besides his decent attacking numbers, Balde was also solid at the back. In fact, his composure and versatility allowed Xavi to use him at right-back on several occasions. His impressive performances with Barcelona also earned him a call up to the FIFA 2022 World Cup where he made his senior debut for Spain, although he only started one game.
If Alejandro Balde wins the 2023 Golden Boy, it would make him only the second defender to win the award. It would also be the third time in a row – after Pedri and Gavi – that the award goes to a Barcelona player.
Xavi Simons, too, is a product of the famous La Masia academy, but he left Catalonia quite a few years ago. The Dutch youngster spent the 2022/23 season at PSV Eindhoven where he finally showcased his full potential.
Playing mostly as an attacking midfielder or winger, Simons recorded a whopping 22 goals and 12 assists in 48 matches for PSV. Despite only joining them at the start of the season, the 20-year-old instantly became an undisputed starter and leader on the pitch.
Xavi would go on to finish second in Eredivisie with PSV while winning the Dutch Cup and Dutch Supercup. He was also the joint top scorer in the league and named talent of the year in the Netherlands. Simons took part in the 2022 FIFA World Cup with his national team but mostly as an impact sub.
In the end, Simons’ performances convinced Paris Saint-Germain to trigger their buy-back clause. However, he was sent on loan to RB Leipzig the same summer.
Last on our list of Golden Boy favourites is Benfica’s centre-back Antonio Silva. At his tender age of 19, the Portuguese was an undisputed starter for the Eagles last season, making a total of 44 appearances for them across all competitions.
Antonio Silva perfectly fits the characteristics of a modern defender as he is physically strong, fast, but also extremely reliable with the ball at his feet. Furthermore, the 19-year-old is quite good in the air, and that is how he finished the 2022/23 term with five goals to his name.
Silva was also included in Portugal’s squad for the FIFA 2022 World Cup where, at the age of 19, he became the youngest player in the history of his national team to feature in a World Cup.
Antonio continues at Benfica for now but the top clubs are closely monitoring him.In 2018, Matthijs de Ligt became the only defender to win the Golden Boy, and it remains to be seen whether Antonio Silva can repeat that feat.