Ajax's Matthijs De Ligt beats Trent Alexander-Arnold to Golden Boy award
Ajax defender Matthijs De Ligt has been named Golden Boy 2018 by Italian newspaper Tuttosport, with Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold coming second.
De Ligt, 19, who has been linked with Barcelona and Juventus, succeeds Kylian Mbappe, who won the 2017 award. He picked up 224 votes from a panel of sports writers across Europe, with Alexander-Arnold earning 149 votes and Roma's Justin Kluivert coming third with 101.
He will pick up his award at a ceremony in Turin on Monday evening.
"I'm really happy and also very proud to have won this trophy, particularly when I look at who has won it before me," De Ligt told Tuttosport. "It's almost incredible to see my name added to a list which includes [Paul] Pogba, Mbappe, [Lionel] Messi and [Rafael] van der Vaart. Amazing.
"I know who won this prize almost by heart and to be honest, I appreciate it a lot. There are lots of very big names on the list, but if I were to name one, then Messi stands out for me. Everybody recognises what he has done for and in football. I really like him a lot as a footballer so I'm very proud to have won the same trophy which he lifted before me, 13 years ago, when I was only six."
De Ligt also paid tribute to runner-up Alexander-Arnold as two defenders stood on the highest steps of the podium for the first time, after 15 years in which either a forward or a midfielder had won.
"He's a great player with huge talent," he said. "He's shown his quality and ability as Liverpool's right full-back and he's already played a Champions League final. I think that says more than something for a player of his age. I love the way he attacks down the wing, but doesn't forget his defensive duties in a more than perfect manner. I'm sure we're going to hear a lot about him in the future.
"I'm delighted to become the first defender to win this prize, and knowing that only forwards or midfielders have won it so far makes it all the more special. Usually you see forwards or midfielders in the photos so this means a lot for me since I play a different role."
De Ligt only came fourth in a separate poll conducted on Tuttosport's website in which fans instead picked Kluivert as their favourite, ahead of Everton's Thomas Davies and Vinicius Junior of Real Madrid.