Jamal Musiala third, Jude Bellingham fourth as Bundesliga players dominate Kopa Trophy nominations
That the Bundesliga boasts some of the world's best young talent may be obvious to all, and a glance through the nominees for this year's Kopa Trophy adds even further proof that Germany's top division is a hotbed for gifted footballing youth, with six of the 10 nominees for this season's award based right here.
Forming part of the famous Ballon d'Or celebrations, the Kopa Trophy - named after former French player Raymond Kopa - is organised by publication France Football and is presented to the best player over the past year under the age of 21. Among the nominees this year were Borussia Dortmund's midfield general Jude Bellingham, Bayern Munich attacker Jamal Musiala, Bayer Leverkusen schemer Florian Wirtz and RB Leipzig defender Josko Gvardiol.
Added to that mix of top talent were a couple of new arrivals to the Bundesliga this season, with Bayern's 20-year-old Dutch sensation Ryan Gravenberch and BVB's fleet-footed forward Karim Adeyemi also in contention for the prestigious award. For Bellingham, Gravenberch, Musiala and Wirtz, the 2022 nomination represents the second successive season they have been put forward for the prestigious prize.
Watch: 2022 Kopa Trophy award nominee, Jude Bellingham
Bellingham finished runner-up to Barcelona's Pedri in last year's Kopa Trophy and the Dortmund player will be in serious contention again this time around following a campaign to remember in Black-and-Yellow. The youngest player to have featured for England at a major tournament, Bellingham scored six goals and provided 14 assists in 44 games across all competitions for Die Schwarzgelben, who finished runners-up to Bayern in the Bundesliga title race.
The 19-year-old's superb box-to-box ability and burgeoning leadership skills over the campaign led to current Dortmund boss, Eden Terzic, naming Bellingham as Dortmund's third captain.
Attacking midfielder, Musiala - capped 17 times by Germany - was just as impressive during Bayern's championship run, the teen registering five goals and teeing up another five in 30 Bundesliga games. The Stuttgart native and former Chelsea academy player was on target for the Bavarian giants when they sealed their 10th top-flight title in a row with a 3-1 Der Klassiker win against rivals Dortmund.
Watch: 2022 Kopa Trophy award nominee, Jamal Musiala
Despite seeing some of his season hampered by injury, the immensely gifted Wirtz weighed in with several spectacular displays as Leverkusen roared to a first top-three finish in the Bundesliga for six years. In the space of just over a month last term, the 5'9" attacker became the first player under 19 to score more than 10 goals in the Bundesliga and the youngest in the German top flight to manage 50 appearances.
Versatile defender and Leipzig rock, Gvardiol, was also a player with a campaign to remember. The 20-year-old ex-Dinamo Zagreb player racked up 46 games in four separate competitions and as well as helping Leipzig to their first major honour - the DFB Cup - he was also a regular fixture in defence as the Saxony-based side got to the UEFA Europa League semi-finals before securing a top-four Bundesliga finish and a place in the group stages of this season's Champions League.
Watch: Leverkusen and Germany wunderkind, Florian Wirtz
The list of young Bundesliga stars up for this year's Kopa Trophy was completed by Adeyemi - who has enjoyed a solid start in his new Dortmund colours. Having arrived at BVB following a stunning season with Red Bull Salzburg - where he won his third league and cup double - the 20-year-old Munich-born trickster burst out of the blocks in Dortmund's DFB Cup win against 1860 Munich while he was involved in his team's winning goal in the Bundesliga opener against Leverkusen.
Now a full Germany international, Adeyemi made a senior goalscoring bow for his country last September.
Bayern's Gravenberch is another who has impressed during his short time at his new club. Moving to Bavaria from Ajax last season, Gravenberch greeted the Bundesliga as an Eredivisie and KNVB Cup winner in 2021/22 while he already has his first medal at Bayern having played for 22 minutes in the team's Supercup win against Leipzig. Gravenberch won his first senior cap with the Netherlands in March 2021 and has since been capped 10 more times.
Musiala placed highest among Bundesliga players in the final Kopa rankings, in third, with Bellingham fourth. Both will lock horns once again for the Golden Boy. Both are genuine contenders.
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