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By ESPN Staff

New World Cup award for best young player

LEIPZIG, Germany, Dec 8 (Reuters) - A new award for best young player of the tournament will be launched at next year's World Cup finals in Germany, FIFA announced on Thursday.

Fan votes will be collected after the semi-finals and the top three will be joined by three more chosen by FIFA's Technical Study Group (TSG) to create a shortlist of six players.

The winner will be chosen by the TSG, which is made up of coaches and analysts.

Players aged 21 and under will be eligible for the Best Young Player award, which is being inaugurated by FIFA sponsor Gillette.

Lionel Messi, who led Argentina to the World Youth Championship this year, and England's Wayne Rooney, who had a spectacular Euro 2004, were born before the cut-off date of January 1, 1985 and were tipped by FIFA as likely contenders.

Lothar Matthaeus, who helped Germany win the European Championship at the age of 19 in 1980 and who made his World Cup debut two years later is the patron of the award.

He also mentioned Germany's Lukas Podolski and Bastian Schweinsteiger as possible winners.

'They attracted a lot of attention at the Confederations Cup,' he said. 'But there is a long list of candidates. Let's start the games before we talk about who could win it.'

The World Cup finals, which begin on June 9 in Munich, offers a number of other individual awards to players, including the Golden Shoe for the tournament's top scorer, the Golden Ball for the best player and the Yashin Award, named in honour of the late Russian goalkeeper Lev Yashin, for best keeper.

The draw for the finals takes place in Leipzig on Friday.