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Joao Felix named best under-21 player in Europe

Atletico Madrid and Portugal forward Joao Felix has been named the 2019 Golden Boy, beating Borussia Dortmund and England winger Jadon Sancho to the award. Tuttosport confirmed Felix, 20, received almost twice as many votes as second-place finisher Sancho, while Bayer Leverkusen’s Kai Havertz finished in third, per Goal:

Felix exploded onto the senior stage last season and won the 2018-19 Primeira Liga with Benfica before he completed a €126 million transfer to the Wanda Metropolitano this past summer. The youngster netted 20 goals in his debut senior season with the Eagles and three goals with Atleti in La Liga. He was also part of Portugal’s triumphant team in the inaugural UEFA Nations League in June.

Other notable names to miss out on the 2019 prize for best player under the age of 21 include Red Bull Salzburg striker Erling Haaland, who came fourth, and Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt, who won in 2018. Barcelona youngster Ansu Fati, 17, finished in sixth despite only making his professional debut in August, placed just ahead of Manchester City’s Phil Foden.

Felix has scored three goals in 13 appearances for Atletico since arriving at the club in July, including his maiden UEFA Champions League strike in a 2-0 win against Lokomotiv Moscow in October (U.S. only).  It didn’t take long for the talented forward to begin making an impact in Spain’s top flight, showcasing his skill on the ball in his La Liga debut—a 1-0 win over Getafe.

Felix is the second Portuguese player to be crowned Golden Boy in the space of four years after Lille midfielder Renato Sanches took the award in 2016. Sanches’ career stagnated after he moved to Bayern Munich in that same year, and the hope will be that the same fate doesn’t befall his countryman. Sancho—who turns 20 in March—was another serious Golden Boy contender after showing consistent match-winning potential for Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League.

The teenager also made his senior England debut in October 2018 and has quickly become a firm fixture in Gareth Southgate’s side, scoring twice and recording four assists in 11 international appearances.  Real Madrid youngsters Vinicius Jr., 19, and Rodrygo Goes, 18, will be disappointed to finish as low as 12th and 13th, respectively, but both will be eligible for the 2020 accolade.

The same goes for 19-year-old Bayern Munich winger Alphonso Davies, who came 18th, and Everton forward Moise Kean, who turns 20 in February but is lacking form since he left Juventus in August.  Few would argue against Felix deserving his status as the best youngster in Europe this year, but the forward will be eyeing much more senior honours in future.

 

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