Villarreal of Spain winger, Samuel Chukwueze has 39 other young players to outwit in his bid to emerge as the winner of this year’s Golden Boy Award, with one of his rival contenders being ex-Manchester City midfielder, Tom Dele-Bashiru, who now plays for Watford.
Chukwueze, who helped Nigeria win bronze at the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year, during his debut in the continental soccer showpiece, and Dele-Bashiru, who starred for the country at this year’s FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland, are both included in this year’s 40-player shortlist for the award organized by Italy-based media outfit, Tuttosport.
Organisers of the annual award, which recognizes the world’s most outstanding player under the age of 21, have listed Chukwueze and Dele-Bashiru among the last 40 lads in contention for the gong, from an original roll call of the globe’s best 100 best young players.
The 20-year-old Chukwueze, who enjoyed a breakthrough debut season in the past campaign with Villarreal, with regular starting spots and scored five goals in 26 La Liga games, is among 10 whiz-kids based in Spain listed in the selection, while Dele-Bashiru joins five other [players from the English Premier League on the list.
Chukwueze and Dele-Bashiru, who moved to Vicarage Road this summer, after starring for Nigeria’s Flying Eagles at Poland 2019, where he scored a goal in three games, will both hope to end Africa’s wait for its first Golden Boy winner since the award started in 2003.
After helping Villarreal avoid relegation at the end of last season, Chukwueze already has a goal plus an assist for The Yellow Submarine this season and scored his first Super Eagles goal during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, where he also won a man-of-the-match award and was rated as one of the country’s most impressive players at the championship in Egypt.
Similarly, Dele-Bashiru had a bright start with the Flying Eagles at the U-20 World Cup in Poland, where the former Manchester City youngster scored in the group stage, but could not save the squad from being knocked out in the round of 16 by Senegal, who also have a player in the Golden Boy Awards list of 40 nominees.
The full list of nominees has Benoit Badiashile (Monaco), Michael Cuisance (Bayern Munich), Eljif Elmas (Napoli), Matthijs De Ligt (Juventus), Krépin Diatta (Club Brugge), Giuanluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan), Denis Dragus (Standard Liege), Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal), Tom Dele-Bashiru (Watford), Florentino Luís (Benfica), Phil Foden (Manchester City) and Mattéo Guendouzi (Arsenal).
Others are Erling Braut Haaland (RB Salzburg), Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen), Justin Kluivert (Roma), Moise Kean (Everton), Alexander Isak (Real Sociedad), Joao Félix (Atlético Madrid), Dejan Joveljic (Eintracht Frankfurt), Boubacar Kamara (Marseille), Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich), Ibrahima Konaté (RB Leipzig), Rodrygo Goes (Real Madrid) and Alban Lafont (Nantes).
Completing the roll call are Diego Lainez (Real Betis), KangIn Lee (Valencia), Andriy Lunin (Real Valladolid), Donyell Malen (PSV), Mason Mount (Chelsea), Nehuén Pérez (Famalicao), Reiss Nelson (Arsenal), Abdulkadir Omur (Trabzonspor), Strahinja Pavlovic (Partizan Belgrade), Rafael Leao (AC Milan), Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid), Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund), Luis Sinisterra (Feyenoord), Jean-Clair Todibo (Barcelona), Ferran Torres (Valencia) and Nicolo Zaniolo (Roma).