Manchester United's headline summer signing Anthony Martial has joined a stellar list of names by capturing the 2015 Golden Boy Award. The budding French international beat Bayern Munich's Kingsley Coman and Arsenal right-back Hector Bellerin to the prize, which was started by Italian newspaper Tuttosport and is voted on by 30 journalists from major newspapers across Europe.
Martial has earned rave plaudits since overtaking new teammate Luke Shaw as the most expensive teenager in football history, following a £36m ($53.6m) switch from Monaco to Old Trafford in early September. Although the size of his fee was seen as cause for initial concern among supporters, he soon alleviated their fears by scoring an excellent goal after coming off the substitutes' bench to make his debut against rivals Liverpool.
The 20-year-old also netted an impressive brace against Southampton in September, but his only efforts since then have come in the Capital One Cup third round victory over Ipswich and in respective Champions League ties against CSKA Moscow and Wolfsburg. He is still featuring regularly for the club and making life extremely difficult for defenders with his trickery and sheer pace. However, his lack of league goals in recent months has been symptomatic of United's overall struggles in the final third under Louis van Gaal.
"I am very happy and honoured to have won the Golden Boy, it was a surprise for me, I have only now found out, at the last minute, and I must say that it is a very special award. A great Christmas gift," the 20-year-old told Tuttosport after winning the latest Golden Boy as translated by Sport Witness.
"I'd like to dedicate it to our fans, they are incredible, formidable, they travel from anywhere to be near us and no matter where in England or overseas we can find ourselves because we can always hear them singing and supporting us."
Raheem Sterling was given the honour last year, while 2013 saw former United midfielder Paul Pogba deservedly recognised for his excellent displays for reigning Serie A champions Juventus. Mario Gotze, Sergio Aguero, Cesc Fabregas, Lionel Messi and Wayne Rooney are among the other illustrious talents to have won the award since its inception in 2003.