The Kopa Trophy is an individual award introduced by France Football in 2018, the same magazine that awards the Ballon d’Or. Named after Raymond Kopa, it is meant to honour the best player of the season under the age of 21. Past winners include Kylian Mbappe, Matthijs de Ligt, Pedri and Gavi. There was no award in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The full list of contenders which includes 10 players was revealed on September 6, and the winner will be announced during the official ceremony in Paris on October 30. Unlike other awards presented by France Football, the winner of the Kopa Trophy is determined by the votes of past Ballon d’Or winners.
Full List of Kopa Trophy 2023 Nominees
Previous winners Pedri and Gavi are also on the list, but since awards for the best youngsters do not typically go to the same player twice, we expect a new Kopa Trophy winner in 2023. Jude Bellingham is our leading contender to the award.
|Jude Bellingham||Borussia Dortmund/Real Madrid||England|
|Eduardo Camavinga||Real Madrid||France|
|Rasmus Hojlund||Atalanta/Manchester United||Denmark|
|Jamal Musiala||Bayern Munich||Germany|
|Xavi Simons||PSV/RB Leipzig||Netherlands|
The top criteria when voting for the Kopa Trophy winner are individual and collective achievements, fair play and consistency. While Jude Bellingham does not have a trophy to show for the 2022/23 season, the Englishman was amazing on the individual level.
Bellingham registered 14 goals and seven assists in 42 matches (39 starts) for Borussia Dortmund last term. BVB finished tied on points with Bayern Munich after failing to beat Mainz on the final day – Bellingham missed that match through injury – and lost the Bundesliga title on goal difference. Nevertheless, he was named Player of the Year in Germany.
We should also mention that Jude was an undisputed starter for England at the 2022 FIFA World Cup as even scored once as the Three Lions reached the quarter finals. This summer, Bellingham completed a move to Real Madrid for €103 million plus add-ons. After finishing second in the Kopa Trophy in 2021, Bellingham is the top contender to the prize this year.
Similar to Bellingham, Jamal Musiala came close to winning the Kopa Trophy in the past, finishing third in 2021 and 2022. It remains to be seen whether the 20-year-old can build on that success and finally clinch the prize this year.
In terms of collective achievements, Musiala can flaunt the 2022/23 Bundesliga title which he won ahead of Bellingham. The Germany international was a key player at Bayern Munich where he contributed with 16 goals and 16 assists in 47 appearances (36 starts). He also had a couple of good performances at the 2022 FIFA World Cup, although the Germans got eliminated at the group stage.
Because of his stellar performances throughout the year, Musiala was included in the Bundesliga 2022/23 Team of the Season and named best Germany national team player of 2022.
The 2022/23 term was Alejandro Balde’s first full season at the senior level, and what a season it was! The 19-year-old left-back’s consistent performances convinced Xavi to drop club legend Jordi Alba to the bench in his favour. In the end, Balde finished the season with one goal and seven assists in 44 matches (36 starts).
Alejandro’s solid performances at Barcelona earned him a place in Spain’s squad for the FIFA 2022 World Cup where he would go on to make four appearances. Another impressive thing about Balde is his versatility, as he’d be used at right-back several times during the season when the Catalans did not have better options in that spot.
If Balde becomes the 2023 Kopa Trophy winner, it would make it the third consecutive time that a Barcelona player wins it.
Eduardo Camavinga finished second in the 2022 Kopa Trophy and will get another chance to win it this year. The Frenchman kicked off the 2022/23 term as a bench player at Real Madrid but would become a regular starter towards the end of the season after Carlo Ancelotti moved him to the left-back spot for the lack of better alternatives. Camavinga’s debut in the left-back position was actually at the 2022 World Cup with France, although he made only two appearances there.
In total, Camavinga registered two assists across 59 matches (39 starts) for Real Madrid last term as Los Blancos won the UEFA Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup and Copa del Rey. While he didn’t contribute with too many goals, Eduardo was still an important player at Santiago Bernabeu due to his versatility and incredible work rate.
Xavi Simons was touted as the next big footballing talent since his early days at Barcelona’s academy. The Dutchman finally showed his full potential last term as he played for PSV in the Eredivisie after joining them from Paris Saint-Germain for free.
In his first full season at the top level, Simons contributed with 22 goals and 12 assists in 48 matches (45 starts). PSV won the Dutch Cup and Dutch Super Cup last year but ended second in the league. Nevertheless, Simons was named Player of the Year in the Eredivisie and was the joint top scorer with 19 strikes.
Paris Saint-Germain were quick to rectify their mistake and triggered their €6 million buy-back clause this summer, bringing Simons back to Parc des Princes. However, the 20-year-old was eventually loaned out to RB Leipzig where he will play this year.