by Massimo Franchi

He is still and always the formidable sixteen-year-old Lamine Yamal, the star of the “Golden Boy Football Benchmark Index,” the absolute leader of the ranking that lists the top 100 Under-21 talents of the year signed to a European club. The official “vernissage” held in the enchanting setting of the Cucinelli Theatre in Umbria, one of Italy’s most beautiful medieval villages, reaffirmed the supremacy of the Barcelona star over all his fiercest rivals. At the top of the “ranking” since the early stages in April and May, Lamine Yamal takes center stage in the early June ranking, which will soon lead us to the start of the European Championships in Germany. The teenager of Moroccan origin (born in 2007) was born just over three kilometers from Camp Nou and already finished last December in third place overall, also winning the first “The Youngest” trophy reserved for the youngest of the finalists.


The ranking of the coveted international trophy by Tuttosport (now in its 22nd edition) is compiled and published monthly with the support of our partner Football Benchmark, a high-tech data analysis platform that establishes the algorithm for each Under-21 talent based on accurate parameters and coefficients. The so-called Index. A constantly updated ranking similar to the ATP tennis ranking or the FIFA ranking for national teams. Then, in the fall, after a long and exciting journey, it will, as always, be up to our esteemed European journalistic jury to choose the winner from the top 20 of the “Golden Boy Football Benchmark Index” plus 5 “wild cards” selected by our editorial staff from the 80 excluded.


This year, those born from January 1, 2004, onwards can be voted for (and registered). The winner will inherit the scepter from the holder Jude Bellingham, the English star born in 2003, who last Saturday lifted the Champions League in London with Real Madrid. The current analysis of the “Golden Boy Football Benchmark Index” includes matches played up to last May 19.


The leap in the rankings of 19-year-old Turkish Arda Güler, a teammate of Bellingham at Real Madrid and already 12th in last year’s final ranking, is remarkable. Out of the “Top 100” in the first two “steps,” the former Fenerbahçe player jumps into the Index like a hawk, occupying the 19th place, thus “burning” 81 opponents in one go. As soon as Ancelotti gave him more playing time, Güler responded brilliantly, scoring 4 goals in the last three La Liga matches (208 minutes on the field) to bring his final tally to 6 goals in 10 matches (of which 8 were when starting from the bench). Another interesting “new entry” is Moroccan attacking midfielder Eliesse Ben Seghir of Monaco, who ranks 78th, gaining 22 places.


Portuguese João Neves, Benfica’s midfielder, rises to second place in the Index, predicted to replace the declining Casemiro at Manchester United. Third is Argentina’s Garnacho of United. Fourth is the French-Martinican Warren Zaïre-Emery, the “enfant terrible” of Paris SG, and the youngest after Lamine Yamal in the list of 100 candidates. Still fifth is the French-Ivorian Leny Yoro of Lille, highly sought after by Europe’s top clubs. Yamal, Neves, Zaïre-Emery, and Yoro are all part of Gestifute, the stable of super-agent Jorge Mendes.