Gio Reyna, Florian Wirtz, Jude Bellingham and Jamal Musiala (l-r.) are in the running for the 2021 Golden Boy. - © DFL
Gio Reyna, Florian Wirtz, Jude Bellingham and Jamal Musiala (l-r.) are in the running for the 2021 Golden Boy. - © DFL
bundesliga

Jude Bellingham, Gio Reyna, Jamal Musiala and Florian Wirtz among 13 Bundesliga-based 2021 Golden Boy nominees

Jude Bellingham, Gio Reyna, Jamal Musiala and Florian Wirtz are among the 13 Bundesliga-based names in contention to succeed Golden Boy holder Erling Haaland as the best footballer under the age of 21 in one of Europe's top-flight leagues, per UEFA coefficient.

In Mario Götze, Renato Sanches and Haaland, the Bundesliga boasts three previous winners of the award, presented by Italian sports newspaper Tuttosport since 2003 and decided by a panel of experts. bundesliga.com runs the rule over the top talents out to make it four...

Jude Bellingham

Club: Borussia Dortmund
Age:
17
Position:
Central midfielder

Bellingham is a leading candidate for the prize. The English teenager has made running the show from midfield at the highest level look like child's play, breaking all manner of records during his debut season with Borussia Dortmund. The youngest DFB Cup winner, UEFA Champions League knockout-round goalscorer and UEFA Euros debutant turns 18 in June - if he goes on to be named Golden Boy, he'll usurp Lionel Messi as the accolade's greenest winner.

Watch: A Jude Bellingham highlight reel

"I cannot believe it, maybe he's a liar. He's so good for 17-years-old, he's a fantastic player," enthused Manchester City head coach Pep Guardiola after witnessing the all-action Bellingham first hand in the Champions League quarter-finals. "There was one moment when he didn't get the ball from central defenders, how he shouts and demands that ball to him at 17 means a lot. I spoke with his manager, Edin [Terzic], and he told me what you see in these two games is like every training session."

Gio Reyna

Club: Borussia Dortmund
Age: 18
Position: Attacking midfielder

Reyna converted a Bundesliga debut assist from Bellingham on Matchday 1 of the 2020/21 season. Both 17 at the time, they are the youngest goal-scoring combo in Bundesliga history. It was one of seven competitive strikes scored by the US international at club level during his first full pro campaign. The USA's answer to Brazil legend Kaka also produced seven assists, whilst scoring an A+ with his fourth USMNT goal in the come-from-behind victory over Mexico in the CONCACAF Nations League final.

Watch: Gio Reyna's learning curve

"At such a young age to be so calm on the ball and play for such a big team, it's very fascinating to see how calm he is and he doesn't care about anything, he just jumps right into it," explained BVB striker Haaland. "He's a top talent, and we're lucky to have him here. The American Dream, I call him that. He has a huge future ahead of him."

Jamal Musiala

Club: Bayern Munich
Age: 18
Position: Midfielder

Cruising along his own career fast lane at record champions Bayern Munich, Jamal Musiala sparked an international tug of war between England and Germany, before declaring for the latter - his country of birth - in time for Euro 2020. The former Chelsea academy dynamo was one of the breakout stars of the 2020/21 Bundesliga campaign, registering six goals and one assist, as well as an historic Champions League strike against Lazio.

Watch: Jamal Musiala's best bits

"I don't know if we stole him! I looked at his bloodlines and there was no English blood in there!," Musiala's Bayern mentor, Thomas Müller, told the Daily Mail. "We're very happy in Germany that Jamal decided for Germany. The set-up now, with his long contract at Bayern and decision for the German national team, fits very well. I'm very happy with him."

Florian Wirtz

Club: Bayer Leverkusen
Age: 18
Position: Attacking midfielder

Florian Wirtz could be lining up alongside Musiala for Hansi Flick's Germany in the not too distant future. The Bayer Leverkusen midfielder was instrumental in the U21s' 2021 Euro triumph, starting all three knockout games and scoring both goals against the Netherlands in the semi-finals. It was merely a continuation of some eye-catching performances across his first full season with the Leverkusen seniors - namely five goals and six assists in 29 top-flight appearances.

Watch: Florian Wirtz makes Bundesliga history

Youssoufa Moukoko

Club: Borussia Dortmund
Age: 16
Position: Forward

Youssoufa Moukoko is another Bundesliga-blooded star in the making. After plundering 127 goals for the BVB U17s and 19s, the Cameroon-born forward wrote his name into the history books as the Bundesliga's youngest player, a day after his 16th Birthday. He became the Champions League's greenest debutant within a week, before overtaking Nuri Sahin as the youngest Bundesliga scorer, aged 16 years and 28 days. The left-footed whizz added two more top-flight strikes to his tally in the new year, only for a ligament injury to check his accelerated progress.

Watch: Youssoufa Moukoko's historic Bundesliga goal

"Moukoko is much better than I was at his age," Haaland said prior to the start of the 2020/21 season. "I have never seen such a good 15-year-old in my life. The advantage for him is that he's already playing for Dortmund at the age of 15. At his age, I was still playing for my home town of Bryne."

Brian Brobbey

Club: RB Leipzig
Age: 19
Position: Forward

There aren't many who can hold a candle to Moukoko's eye-watering youth record, but Brian Brobbey is one of the exceptions. Since making his debut for Ajax's U17s, the Ghana-born Dutchman has helped himself to 84 goals in 105 appearances up to U21 level. He also scored on his senior debut - one of six goals in 19 first-team appearances that prompted RB Leipzig to make their move for the high-speed bulldozer ahead of the 2021/22 campaign.

Brian Brobbey barrelled through the Ajax ranks on his way to RB Leipzig. - via www.imago-images.de/imago images/Pro Shots

"He's a big talent, it's not easy to find players in his position that are so dangerous in front of goal," said former Leipzig head coach Julian Nagelsmann following confirmation of Brobbey's move to the Red Bull Arena on a four-year deal. "He's got pace, strong dribbling, plays well with his back to goal. He has a great work rate, he does a lot for the team defensively, and is ice-cold in front of goal."

Tanguy Coulibaly

Club: VfB Stuttgart
Age: 20
Position: Winger

Tanguy Coulibaly's not a bad finisher, either. From scoring past the great Manuel Neuer with his first Bundesliga goal to putting his name in lights at Dortmund's Signal Iduna Park, the former Paris Saint-Germain youth player did not disappoint in his debut top-flight season. Starting 17 of his 31 Bundesliga outings, he played left wing, right wing and even through the middle for a promoted VfB Stuttgart team involved in the European qualification dogfight right up until the final day.

Watch: Tanguy Coulibaly got the better of Manuel Neuer in November 2020

"I'm a player who likes to have the ball," Coulibaly told bundesliga.com. "I like taking on my man on the wing, I like playing with speed on the wing. I can play on the right and on the left. Shooting, dribbling, the technical side of the game. But I need to keep improving and that's what I try to do every single day in training."

Josko Gvardiol

Club: RB Leipzig
Age: 19
Position: Centre-back/ left-back

Coulibaly will need to be on the very top of his game, if he's to outfox Josko Gvardiol. The Croatia international defender was just 18 when he signed for Leipzig in September 2020, but remained in Dinamo Zagreb for the ensuing campaign. The 6'1" defender duly featured in 25 of Dinamo's 36 league matches, making 21 starts to help the capital club win the Croatian league title for a record 22nd time. He is the youngest member of his country's Euro 2020 squad - and a starter at that.

Josko Gvardiol returns to Leipzig as a Croatian league champion. - Igor Soban/PIXSELL via www.imago-images.de/imago images/Pixsell

"Gvardiol is an extraordinary talent," said former Bayern striker and Croatia international Ivica Olic. "He can play great long balls, is a fine technician and is physically very strong. Everyone is talking about this boy. All the top clubs in Europe know him."

Reinier Jesus

Club: Borussia Dortmund (on loan from Real Madrid)
Age: 19
Position: Attacking midfielder

Reinier Jesus has long been on the pan-European talent radar. The Brazilian teenager earned a move to Real Madrid on the back of a six-goal hand in Flamengo's 2019 league title win, but soon found himself on fringes of the reserve team following injury. Recovering form and fitness in his first of a two-year loan deal at Dortmund, he teased his top-tier credentials across 14 Bundesliga appearances, sticking away a Haaland assist against Arminia Bielefeld and returning the favour on the last day of the season.

"Reinier's not the first Brazilian who's needed a bit of time to adapt," commented Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc in January 2021. "He came to us after a period of several months in which he did not play. He really gives a lot of effort in training, and is on the right track. We are confident that this will be reflected in his performances."

Tanguy Nianzou

Club: Bayern Munich
Age: 19
Position: Centre-back

Tanguy Nianzou knows a thing or two about set-backs. The Frenchman was billed as one of the best young defenders in Europe when he made the switch from PSG to Bayern last summer, but managed just six substitute appearances in the 2020/21 Bundesliga due to injury. If he can stay fit and up his playing time with the seniors, it'd be no great surprise to see him make the longlist for next year's Golden Boy.

"He had a very difficult phase with his two injuries," former Bayern coach Flick said after giving Nianzou a 45-minute run-out against Mainz on Matchday 31. "Today he did very well, we're all happy about that."

Lazar Samardzic

Club: RB Leipzig
Age: 19
Position: Attacking midfielder

Lazar Samardzic shares an equally bright future. A 2019 U17 Fritz Walter bronze medalist - an annual prize given to the best young players in Germany - Samardzic caught the eye of myriad clubs whilst playing for the Hertha Berlin youths. The cultured midfielder with Serbian roots registered 14 goals and nine assists for the U19s, before being taken under Nagelsmann's wing at Leipzig, where he's produced one assist in nine senior appearances.

Lazar Samardzic is making all the right noises at Leipzig. - Roger Petzsche via www.imago-images.de/imago images/Picture Point LE

"He's developed well, he is an exceptionally good footballer with a lot of talent and outstanding ability," explained Nagelsmann. "He just needs a lot more punch and assertiveness. It's not for his want of trying - it's a physical issue that we're working on."

Georginio Rutter

Club: Hoffenheim
Age: 19
Position: Forward

Georginio Rutter has a few more first-team minutes under his belt. Not long after scoring on his Champions League debut for Rennes in a 3-1 losing effort to Sevilla, the French forward made the winter switch to Hoffenheim. He was on target three minutes into his Bundesliga debut - one of nine appearances handed out to the France youth international towards the latter part of the season. Rutter also registered two goals and assists in six outings for the reserves in Germany's fourth tier.

Watch: Relive Georginio Rutter's Bundesliga debut to remember

"In the short time he has been with us, Georginio has already shown real promise, he's having fun and is getting stuck in with the team. Everyone has been happy with him," said Hoffenheim coach Sebastian Hoeneß. "Now we have to make sure we don't get carried away. The boy's doing well, but we have to be careful with him."

Alex Timossi Andersson

Club: Bayern Munich reserves
Age: 20
Position: Right winger

Alex Timossi Andersson is yet to grace the Bundesliga stage, despite officially moving to Bayern in summer 2018. The Sweden youth international - who scored 10 and made two in 60 appearances for boyhood outfit Helsingborgs - has turned out for the record champions' U19s, but it's in Austria that his career's started to catch fire. Andersson spent the second half of the 2020/21 season on loan at second-tier Klagenfurt, helping the club gain promotion via the play-offs with four goals and as many assists in 17 outings.

"Alex Timossi Andersson is a highly talented player," teased Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic, after securing the Swede's services from Helsingborgs, back when he was still 16. "We're convinced that he'll be a success at Bayern."