Bayern Munich midfielder Renato Sanches has won the 2016 Golden Boy award.
The 19-year-old midfielder beat off competition from Bayern Munich teammate Kingsley Coman and Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford, who finished third and second in the poll respectively, to claim the prestigious award.
The annual award is ran by Italian newspaper Tuttosport, who invite journalists and the public to vote for who they believe is the best player in Europe under the age of 21 from a 40-man shortlist.
Sanches is the first Portuguese player to win the award, and now joins a exclusive list of players to win the Golden Boy award, players such as Sergio Aguero, Paul Pogba, and Lionel Messi.
Sanches' rise to the top
The Portuguese midfielder has had an incredible year to say the least. Sanches made his Benfica debut in November 2015, and from there the then 18-year-old playmaker went from strength to strength.
Sanches scored a 40-yard screamer in only his third game in a Benfica shirt, becoming the youngest Benfica player to score at the Estadio da Luz, and from that moment on, the midfielder who was signed to the academy for €750 and 25 footballs at the age of nine never looked back.
30 appearances and one Primeira League title later, the midfielder was signed by German giants Bayern Munich, who paid a whopping €35 million for Sanches on a five-year-contract, making Sanches the most expensive export in the history of the Portuguese League.
A summer with the best
As if things couldn’t get better for the Benfica youth product, Sanches was selected for Portugal’s 23-man squad for Euro 2016, becoming the youngest Portuguese player to be selected for an international competition, a record previously held by Cristiano Ronaldo.
Sanches started all but one of the Selecao’s games in France, and Sanches scored his first international goal in Portugal’s quarter-final encounter with Poland, sending the game to penalties.
The versatile midfielder was voted young player of the tournament as Portugal grinded their way to the final, and eventually the trophy as the Mediterranean country stunned the hosts, as Eder scored the only goal in the final in the 109th minute of the match.