Who was the best young player in world football in the 2021/2022 season?
That’s what the so-called ‘Kopa Trophy’ awarded at each year’s Ballon d’Or ceremony seeks to validate – with the prize going to the finest footballer on earth under the age of 21.
And tonight, the 10 nominees for the 2022 edition were announced.
We’ve decided to rank them from 10-1 based upon how well they performed last campaign and, in doing so, select who we feel should win the award.
Ranking the 10 Kopa Trophy nominees for 2022
10. Josko Gvardiol (RB Leipzig)
The Croatian centre back was a mainstay at the heart of Leipzig’s defence last season, contributing two goals in the process.
Still just 20, that’s pretty impressive and his performances have suggested he has the minerals to go right to the top.
9. Ryan Gravenberch (Ajax – now Bayern)
The fact Bayern swept up Gravenberch for a mere €18 million is pretty incredible because he’s proven an elite operator at Ajax over the past two seasons, playing over 30 Eredivisie matches in each.
There’s not much the Dutchman doesn’t have in his locker. He’s a physical presence, an excellent passer and can bang one from range for good measure.
8. Karim Adeyemi (Red Bull Salzburg – now Dortmund)
Adeyemi notched 19 league goals for Salzburg in 2021/22 and on a further three occasions in the Champions League.
His impressive form consequently earnt him a move to Borussia Dortmund where they’ll be hoping he can fare as well as the last young striker they purchased from the Austrian club.
7. Nuno Mendes (Paris Saint-Germain)
The Portuguese starlet spent last season on loan in Paris and impressed so much that he featured 39 times for one of the best teams in the world.
Unsurprisingly after getting so much use out of him, the Parisians decided to take him on permanently paying Sporting a fee in the region of £35 million.
6. Jamal Musiala (Bayern Munich)
The 19-year-old is playing a more prominent role in the Bavarian club’s first team plans with each passing month and he ended up featuring on 40 occasions across 2021/2022.
Five goals and as many assists isn’t quite as strong a return as some other members of this list, but you just get the impression watching Musiala that he’s a special talent in the making.
5. Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)
One player you’re bound to be very familiar with is Arsenal’s young prodigy Saka.
The Englishman was immense for England at Euro 2020 last summer and carried that form into the season, contributing 11 goals and seven assists to the Gunners’ Premier League cause.
4. Florian Wirtz (Bayer Leverkusen)
Wirtz was lighting up the Bundesliga until he suffered an ACL injury in March. All we can say is that we hope it doesn’t hamper his career too badly because the sky really is the limit for the German.
Despite only playing 24 league matches, he chipped in with seven goals and a staggering 10 assists.
Creativity at its finest.
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3. Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid)
Thinking he should be higher? The fact the Frenchman played an important part in helping Real Madrid lift both the La Liga and Champions League would suggest so.
However, due to the sheer class across Los Blancos’ midfield, Camavinga was often limited to substitute appearances – so although he played regularly, his total minutes were much less than some of these other stars.
Nevertheless, his achievements can’t be ignored and he was mightily impressive at times.
2. Gavi (Barcelona)
So, just about a week ago Gavi reached an age that allowed him to legally drink – which makes the fact he spent the entirety of 2021/2022 pulling the strings in Barcelona’s midfield even more of a joke.
In the absence of Pedri, his younger teammate stepped up to the plate and has become a star in his own right.
He’s going right to the top.
1. Jude Bellingham (Borussia Dortmund)
Get this man in the Premier League already…
To leave your home country so young after playing for no one else other than Birmingham City, and then go on to dominate the midfield of one of Europe’s most reputable clubs – what Bellingham has done defies belief in many ways.
The fact he featured 45 times for Dortmund just shows how important a player he is to them.
In our opinion, a very worthy winner.