Neco Williams has been included in the final 40-man shortlist for the European Golden Boy award for 2020, following his unexpected rise to the Liverpool first team.
Williams has emerged from the Reds’ academy to take up an important role in Jurgen Klopp‘s squad, currently serving as backup to Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back.
The 19-year-old has made 12 appearances for the club so far, and earlier this month marked his first outings for the Wales national team with a stoppage-time winner against Bulgaria.
Interestingly, he was not included in the initial list of 100 nominees for the European Golden Boy, which is organised by Italian publication Tuttosport, with Curtis Jones, Sepp van den Berg and Ki-Jana Hoever all named.
But he is now the only Liverpool player to feature in the final 40-man shortlist, with Jones surprisingly cut.
The Reds’ No. 76 is one of seven representatives from the Premier League, along with Fabio Silva (Wolves), Phil Foden (Man City), Mason Greenwood (Man United), Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal) and Ferran Torres (Man City).
He comes up against a number of high-profile youngsters including Borussia Dortmund duo Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland, Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies, Barcelona’s Ansu Fati and Rennes’ Eduardo Camavinga.
Ex-Liverpool youngster Rafa Camacho is also included, along with the likes of Ozan Kabak (Schalke) and Dominik Szoboszlai (Salzburg), who have both been linked with moves to Anfield of late.
The competition for the award, which is voted for by 40 journalists across Europe, makes it unlikely Williams is given the top prize, but his inclusion is recognition enough.
The Welshman is considered one of the most exciting young talents on the continent, and if he did win would become only the second Liverpool player to do so, following Raheem Sterling in 2014.
Joao Felix was given last year’s award, while at time of writing Davies and Szoboszlai are leading the Tuttosport readers’ poll on who should be honoured this time around.
European Golden Boy Nominees, 2020
Marley Ake (Marseille), Adil Aouchiche (St Etienne), Benoit Badiashile (Monaco), Mitchel Bakker (PSG), Myron Boadu (AZ Alkmaar), Dennis Borkowski (RB Leipzig), Eduardo Camavinga (Rennes), Marco Carnesecchi (Atalanta), Rayan Cherki (Lyon), Jonathan David (Lille), Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich), Sergino Dest (Ajax), Sebastiano Esposito (Inter Milan), Fabio Silva (Wolves), Ansu Fati (Barcelona), Phil Foden (Man City), Amine Gouiri (Nice), Ryan Gravenberch (Ajax), Mason Greenwood (Man United), Erling Braut Haaland (Dortmund), Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea), Mohamed Ihattaren (PSV), Ozan Kabak (Schalke), Michal Karbownik (Legia Warsaw), Tanguy Nianzou (Bayern Munich), Dejan Kulusevski (Juventus), Marcos Antonio (Shakhtar), Rafa Camacho (Sporting CP), Rodrygo (Real Madrid), Bukayo Saka (Arsenal), Jadon Sancho (Dortmund), Vladyslav Supriaha (Dynamo Kyiv), Dominik Szoboszlai (Salzburg), Tomas Esteves (Porto), Tomas Tavares (Benfica), Sandro Tonali (AC Milan), Ferran Torres (Man City), Christos Tzolis (PAOK), Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid), Neco Williams (Liverpool)