The Golden Boy Award, awarded by Italian newspaper Tuttosport, is given to the best player aged 21 or under, playing in the top tier of European nation as voted by journalists across the continent. Lionel Messi, Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Aguero among others are some famous winners of this award, and it was awarded to Joao Felix last year.
This year’s competition was stiffer than ever with the likes of Jadon Sancho, Alphonso Davies, Ansu Fati, Phil Foden among others in the race for it. However, none of them could top Erling Haaland of Borussia Dortmund, who won the race for the trophy with a total of 302 points.
Courtesy of his sensational start to the season, Ansu Fati ended up finishing second with 239 points, 13 more than treble winner Alphonso Davies. Messi is the only Barcelona player that has won it in the past (2005), while Cesc Fabregas won it with Arsenal after leaving La Masia.
This was Fati’s second nomination in two years for the award, as he jumped from finishing 6th last year to the runners up spot this year. Being just 18, the Spaniard is legible for the award for three more years, and if he is able to sustain his top-notch performances, there is little to nothing stopping him from winning the Golden Boy trophy, and more.
Official: Barcelona starting lineup to face Elche — Koeman makes five changes
Barcelona will be hoping to get back to winning ways as they host Elche at the Camp Nou for the rescheduled round one fixture. Ronald Koeman has heavily rotated his team for this encounter, making five changes to the team that took on Cadiz on the weekend.
The first of these changes comes in the heart of the defence, with Samuel Umtiti coming in to replace Clement Lenglet, starting alongside Gerard Pique. Oscar Mingueza gets a start as well, but it is at right-back instead of Sergino Dest. Jordi Alba retains his spot at the left-back position, while Marc-Andre Ter Stegen holding the gloves.
Sergio Busquets had a fairly decent game against Cadiz, but sees himself on the bench with Miralem Pjanic starting as the anchor. Beside him, Frenkie De Jong and Pedri will be acting as interiors as they have so often this season.
There are two changes in the attack as well, with Fransisco Trincao getting a well-deserved start on the right-wing, replacing Ousmane Dembele. Antoine Griezmann starts on the bench, as well, and has been replaced by Martin Braithwaite. Lionel Messi will spearhead the team hoping to keep his goal-scoring run alive.
Confirmed XI: ter Stegen; Mingueza, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; de Jong, Pjanic, Pedri; Trincao, Messi, Braithwaite
Koeman seems to have played all his cards all at once for this game, replacing every other player on the pitch. While Mingueza truly deserved a place in the XI today, it should have been at centre-half instead of Umtiti, who put in a heart-wrenching display against Sevilla in the Copa del Rey no more than two weeks back.