Marko Grujic has been named one of the top young players in Europe, being nominated for the 2016 edition of the Golden Boy award for best player under 21. It’s an award that was won in 2014 by Raheem Sterling. Last year, Manchester United’s Anthony Martial took the honours.
Grujic, though, won’t be a favourite to win this year’s edition, and being nominated in this case means making a 40-deep long-list packed with names like Mahmoud Dahoud, Ousmane Dembele, Breel Embolo, Leroy Sane, and Renato Sanches. Still, being named to the list is in itself noteworthy.
Other English-based players who made the cut are Tottenham’s Dele Alli, Man City’s Kelechi Iheanacho, United’s Marcus Rashford, Chelsea’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi, and Leicester’s Demarai Gray. Of those, Alli is considered the most likely Premier League contender.
Whoever does win in the end, though, might not be fated to become a superstar. The last three winners—Martial, Sterling, and Paul Pogba—seem on track. The 2012 winner Isco, though, has spent the past few seasons stuck on Real Madrid’s bench. Mario Götze, who took honours in 2011, has also had his struggles.
And then you get to 2010 winner Mario Balotelli and 2009 winner Alex Pato and 2008 winner Anderson Oliveira. It’s not all failures and flops, though, with Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi having taken the award in 2007 and 2005 respectively.