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Alejandro Garnacho nominated for Golden Boy award after breakthrough Manchester United season

by Seth Dooley

Manchester United youngster Alejandro Garnacho has been nominated for this year’s Golden Boy award.

Garnacho, 18, has just made his first two senior appearances for the Argentina national team following a stellar debut campaign as a fully-fledged first team member of Erik ten Hag’s squad.

The winger made 34 appearances last season, most of which came as a substitute (only 13% of his 19 Premier League appearances were from the start), and registered five goals and five assists in all competitions.

He missed 12 games during the season due to an ankle injury sustained after bearing the full brunt of Kyle Walker-Peters’ reckless yet completely unpunished tackle.

Despite this setback, Garnacho was voted as one of the top nine teenagers in world football in Goal’s NXGN list.

Upon his return to full fitness, the Argentina international penned a new five-year contract extension at Old Trafford, immediately muting rumours of a return to Spain which were beginning to rumble.

He greatly impressed during his fleeting FA Cup final cameo performance against Manchester City, with many fans citing his direct attacking impetus and quality as something United had desperately lacked for the vast majority of the contest.

The 18-year-old has now been selected as a candidate for the famous Golden Boy award: an annual multinational trophy voted for by the major journalists from several European countries.

The criteria is to be under the age of 21 and to play in a European nation’s top division.

Manchester United, along with Barcelona, have the record number of winners of the trophy (three).

Wayne Rooney won in 2004; Anderson in 2008; and Anthony Martial in 2015.

Garnacho faces competition from 99 other players, however, and will have to wait until November to discover his fate.

He has been placed in 32nd place in the preliminary rankings, which was set prior to his two debut international caps and started registering from the 2022 World Cup.

Real Madrid’s Jude Bellingham (who just secured as €103million plus add-ons transfer to the Bernabeu), Bayern Munich’s Jamal Musiala (who scored a last minute winner to claim the Bundesliga title), Barcelona’s Gavi and Alejandro Balde (who played a major role in Xavi’s La Liga-winning side), and Benfica’s Antonio Silva (who featured in almost every minute of Benfica’s reestablishment as champions of Portugal) are the frontrunners for the award, as categorised by the competition’s top 10 Index.

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