The Kopa Trophy 2021 nominees - ranked

Sean Walsh
What this article sees when you open it
What this article sees when you open it / INA FASSBENDER/GettyImages

After presenting the Ballon d'Or for just over 60 years, France Football finally decided to shake things up a bit in 2018.

They announced they would now also hand out the Kopa Trophy for young players and the Yashin Trophy for goalkeepers (because they should not be getting anywhere near the actual Ballon d'Or, but that's for another time. The Ballon d'Or Feminin also became official.

After cancelling the 2020 editions due to the pandemic - robbing Robert Lewandowski of football's greatest individual honour - award season is returning. You can read about 90min's favourites to win the main prize here, but for now, let's rank the 10 nominees for the Kopa Trophy.

10. Giovanni Reyna

Giovanni Reyna
Reyna is a regular with Dortmund and the USMNT / ISI Photos/GettyImages

Club: Borussia Dortmund
National team: USA
Notable 2021 achievements: Inherited Jadon Sancho's number 7 shirt

Coming 10th - and ultimately, bottom - in these rankings is not a slight on young Gio Reyna at all. He's one of the finest prospects the USA have ever produced and could easily clear his father's own footballing legacy.

Unfortunately, there just happened to be nine young players who had a better year than him. Sorry, broski.

9. Nuno Mendes

Nuno Mendes
Mendes was PSG's final summer signing / Chloe Knott - Danehouse/GettyImages

Club: Paris Saint-Germain (on loan from Sporting)
National team: Portugal
Notable 2021 achievements: Helped end Sporting's title drought, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo both know who he is

When the world tuned in to watch Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar all start for PSG for the first time against Club Brugge, they were in for a massive disappointment - they drew 1-1 and Ander Herrera scored Les Parisiens' goal.

However, they were treated to a 15-minute cameo from Nuno Mendes, who had spent the first half of 2021 terrorising opposing full-backs in his native Portugal and was a crucial part of Sporting's title-winning team.

8. Jeremy Doku

Jérémy Doku
Doku shone in his brief appearances at Euro 2020 / Marcio Machado/GettyImages

Club: Rennes
National team: Belgium
Notable 2021 achievements: Gave Italy the runaround at Euro 2020

Not many football fans knew the young forward heading into this year, but after an impressive debut season with Rennes and an exciting Euros with Belgium, they certainly do now.

Once Doku's magic on the ball translates into goals and assists, he'll be one of the finest wingers around.

7. Florian Wirtz

Florian Wirtz
If you look closely, you can see Wirtz controlling the ball with tiny strings like a puppet / Markus Gilliar/GettyImages

Club: Bayer Leverkusen
National team: Germany
Notable 2021 achievements: Has been labelled the 'new Kai Havertz'

The 'new Kai Havertz'? Really? You people couldn't think of a player any older than that? Wirtz and Havertz were only teammates a year ago, for crying out loud.

Anyway, Wirtz has had a sensational year for someone who only turned 18 in May and he's already being eyed by Europe's super clubs.

6. Mason Greenwood

Mason Greenwood
Greenwood is still a starter for Man Utd despite their new signings / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

Club: Manchester United
National team: England
Notable 2021 achievements: Is keeping a £70m signing out of the team

Greenwood would have been one of the frontrunners for the Kopa Trophy if it was handed out in 2020, but after slowing down just a tad, a lot of ground has been made up by his competition.

If Man Utd had won the Europa League and the 20-year-old had been fit enough to remain in England's Euro 2020 squad, then maybe he's higher on this list. Alas...

5. Bukayo Saka

Bukayo Saka
Saka's excellent 2021 has gone under the radar / Clive Rose/GettyImages

Club: Arsenal
National team: England
Notable 2021 achievements: Was widely considered Arsenal Football Club's best player for about six months

2021 will remember Saka as the man who missed a crucial penalty, but it's forgotten that he had such a standout year on a terrible Arsenal team that he forced his way into England's starting lineup for much of the Euros.

Much like Doku in France, Saka is just an extra bit of end product away from becoming one of the Premier League's top wingers.

4. Ryan Gravenberch

Ryan Gravenberch
What. A. Kit. / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

Club: Ajax
National team: Netherlands
Notable 2021 achievements: Got to play in this beautiful Bob Marley-inspired kit

Hot off the Ajax conveyor belt of young talent is Gravenberch, who has already shown at 19 that he can dominate a midfield as if he were 29.

He's not the last on this list with that aura, either...

3. Jamal Musiala

Musiala is one of the Bundesliga's brightest talents / RONNY HARTMANN/GettyImages

Club: Bayern Munich
National team: Germany
Notable 2021 achievements: Somehow managed to go under the radar given how good he is

Had Musiala not switched his allegiances from England to Germany, then we might have heard a lot more about how insanely good he is.

After properly breaking into the Bayern team this year, he earned a call-up to Euro 2020 and hasn't look back since, and looks set to be one of the leading footballers in Bavaria for years to come.

2. Jude Bellingham

Jude Bellingham
Balls of steel. / Alex Grimm/GettyImages

Club: Borussia Dortmund
National team: England
Notable 2021 achievements: Hey Jude hasn't been sung about him yet

Much like Gravenberch, you'd be forgiven for thinking Bellingham had been playing elite football for a decade.

The brave move to Borussia Dortmund has been ideal and you'd bet your house on his next transfer being to a top-tier club.

1. Pedri

It's been a long year for Pedri / Gualter Fatia/GettyImages

Club: Barcelona
National team: Spain
Notable 2021 achievements: Played over 700 games this year

Pedri must be so tired. He's had to carry Barcelona's midfield, be the bright spark in Spain's Euro 2020 campaign and then jet off to Japan to compete in the Olympics.

Poor lad is still only 18, so let's hope his inevitable winning of the Kopa Trophy makes that all worth it.