Matthijs de Ligt, Joao Felix, Jadon Sancho on 20-Man 2019 Golden Boy Shortlist

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistOctober 15, 2019

Atletico Madrid's Joao Felix, right, and Juventus' Matthijs de Ligt vie for the ball during the Champions League Group D soccer match between Atletico Madrid and Juventus at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Bernat Armangue/Associated Press

The 20-man shortlist for the 2019 Golden Boy award was confirmed on Tuesday, with Juventus' Matthijs de Ligt, Atletico Madrid's Joao Felix and Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho among the contenders.  

The prestigious prize is awarded to the best player under the age of 21. De Ligt won the award last year, and he went on to help Ajax reach the UEFA Champions League semi-finals before making his switch to the Italian champions.

Football Italia and B/R Football provided the shortlist in full for this year's edition:

B/R Football @brfootball

The 20-man shortlist for the 2019 Golden Boy has been announced 🔥 https://t.co/W2AGMWnsCK


Premier League representatives come in the form of Mason Mount, Phil Foden, Matteo Guendouzi and Moise Kean, who have all made encouraging strides in their development this season.

Having burst onto the scene early in the current campaign, 16-year-old Barcelona prodigy Ansu Fati has also done enough to make the cut. Real Madrid's Brazilian forwards Vinicius Jr. and Rodrygo are also on the 20-man shortlist.

De Ligt will clearly face a major fight to defend his Golden Boy crown, especially given he's had a rough start to life at his new club. WhoScored.com looked at his numbers for the campaign ahead of Juve's previous clash with Inter Milan:

WhoScored.com @WhoScored

HEAD-TO-HEAD: Stefan de Vrij 🆚 Matthijs de Ligt Which Dutch centre-back do you think will earn the better WhoScored rating when Inter take on rivals Juventus? Full match preview -- https://t.co/abEdw0DItW https://t.co/jcMY5aQ9BZ

That may open the door to someone like Felix, who made a high-profile transfer to Atletico in the summer after shining for Benfica last season.

The Portugal international excelled for the Lisbon giants in 2018-19, with his dribbling skill, creativity and goalscoring prowess propelling him into a household name. In the end, few eyebrows were raised when Atletico paid £113 million to sign him, such is his potential.

Before the current international break, the 19-year-old scored his first UEFA Champions League goal for his new club:

Football on BT Sport @btsportfootball

The first of many! Joao Felix opens his Champions League account becoming Atletico Madrid's youngest scorer in the competition in the process! https://t.co/87ePL10rRv

Sancho is another who looks to be a serious contender for the accolade, as he continues to cement his status as one of the best players in the Bundesliga.

Having starred for Dortmund last season, he's kicked on again in the current campaign, providing an attacking threat and consistent productivity from his spot on the right flank. Per the Champions League Twitter account, he's chipped in for both club and country so far this season:

UEFA Champions League @ChampionsLeague

Sancho = 🔥🔥🔥 He's been involved in 10 goals in 8 games so far this season 👏 #UCL https://t.co/gW5zsk3pxM

Kai Havertz is another player whose stock is on the rise in Germany, and he will also be in with a chance of being named the 2019 winner after a fine season with Bayer Leverkusen.

Per Scouted Football, the midfielder has shown an encouraging goalscoring touch for one so young:

Scouted Football @ScoutedFtbl

Kai Havertz has now scored 25 league goals in his Bayer 04 Leverkusen career. At 20 years and 67 days old, he's the second-youngest player to reach that milestone in Bundesliga history. https://t.co/5XNlRjTOXx

The Golden Boy prize is arguably the most prestigious individual title for young footballers to win, with the likes of Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney and Kylian Mbappe previous recipients.

Per Football Italia, the winner will be announced on December 16 in Turin, Italy.