The shortlist has been announced for this year’s Golden Boy award, presented each year by Italian magazine Tuttosport to the best player aged under 21 in European football. And Barça’s Carles Aleñá is among them.
The 20-year-old central midfielder, currently recovering from injury, has been an essential part of the Barça B squad of late, playing more games than anyone else in Division 2A last season (37), scoring 11 goals and providing two assists.
The inaugural Golden Boy was Rafael van der Vaart in 2003, while Barça’s own Leo Messi collected the honour in 2005, and Cesc Fábregas the year after (albeit as an Arsenal player at the time).
The most recent winners have been Paul Pogba (2013), Raheem Sterling (2014), Anthony Martial (2015), Renato Sánches (2016) and Kylian Mbappé (2017) – and the Frenchman is in contention to become the first ever two-tiome winner in 2018.
Altogether, there are 100 candidates, and Aleñá is not the only Barcelona man among them. 19-year-old goalkeeper Lazar Carevic joined Barça in 2017 from OFK Grbalj in his native Montenegro and is already playing at U21 level for his country.
Last season he was in the U19 squad at FCB, but this summer he has been officially promoted to Barça B.