Camavinga leads Golden Boy candidates
The Real Madrid midfielder is currently the favorite to lift this year’s Golden Boy award, both in the popular vote and that of the experts. He could be the first Madrid player to win it.
Mbappé, De Ligt, João Félix, Haaland, Pedri... and Camavinga? The Real Madrid midfielder is leading the race for the 2022 Golden Boy - the award given to the best player under the age of 21 in European football. Since Tuttosport announced the first 100 candidates in June, the list will be gradually whittled down by 20 players per month to leave twenty finalists on 15 October. Then, it will be the vote of 40 international sports journalists who decides the winner. As of the moment, there are 60 left standing, with Camavinga in the lead. As soon as the new poll was launched, over 40% of the votes during the first 24 hours went to the young Real Madrid player, who hopes to win over both the public and the panel of experts to become the club’s first ever Golden Boy.
Rafael Van der Vaart won the first edition back in 2003, followed by others who went on to become stars such as Messi, Cesc, Agüero and Paul Pogba. However, in 2018, the Turin-based outlet introduced two new categories: the Italian Golden Boy and the Golden Boy Web Award, for the best young player in Italy and the most voted by internet users respectively. Interestingly, so far, the public and journalists have never agreed. Justin Kluivert was the most popular with internet voter in the 2018 edition won by Matthijs de Ligt; Guendouzi, in the following year’s won by João Felix; Ansu Fati topped the public’s votes when Erling Haaland won in 2020 and Karim Adeyemi polled more votes than anyone else last year when Pedri gained the journalists’ vote. In the last four years there hasn’t been a consensus and Camavinga finds himself in a position to make history - twice.
No Real Madrid footballer has even managed to make it onto the Golden Boy podium. When Isco won the award in 2012 he was still a Málaga player; and Vinicius, who was third in 2018 in the ‘online edition’, ended fifth in the final vote. While Rodrygo, another regular in recent seasons, has never managed to finish in the top 5. Reinier, whose future in the white team is looking less certain, also remains on the list, which has been trimmed down to 60, although he is unlikely to make the definitive group of 20.
Apart from Bayer Leverkusen’s Ecuadorian centre-back Piero Hincapié, who won the first two votes, Camavinga’s main rivals include: Gavi, Bellingham and Bayern Munich’s Jamal Musiala. Although Tuttosport places them just below the Madrid player: “No one has done better in terms of results than the galáctic Eduardo Camavinga” who had polled almost 15,000 of the total 113,000 votes received as of today. And the Italian outlet values the fact that, “This year, he won the Champions League, LaLiga, the European and Spanish Super Cups under Ancelotti’s orders.” Meanwhile, photograph and articles on Madrid’s new No.12 monopolize the section dedicated to the award on their website: “Camavinga, in the front row for the Golden Boy for his League-Champions double”.
It is not the first time that Camavinga has been nominated for recognition this season. On Friday, France Football nominated him for the Kopa Trophy for best youngster. Although the award is determined by performances over the 2021-22 season as a whole, he has enjoyed a good start to the present campaign. Ancelotti has faith in him and included him in his starting line-up against Almería. It wasn’t his best game and he was taken off at half-time after receiving a yellow card in the 40th minute. But he will learn from that - in a campaign in which Olocip expects his value to skyrocket (from the 52.8 million euros it is currently valued at to 90.8). His role and growing importance in Madrid’s successes, especially in the Champions League where he earned his laurels in the semi-finals against Manchester City, along with the four titles he played a part in, could make Camavinga Real Madrid’s first Golden Boy.