Jude Bellingham celebrates after netting Real Madrid's late winner against Union Berlin
Jude Bellingham has been on fire since joining Real Madrid this summer. AFP News

Real Madrid starlet Jude Bellingham is leading the list of nominees for this year's Golden Boy award. The shortlist of 20 players has just been announced, with now only 20 young players remaining in contention.

For those unaware, the Golden Boy trophy is awarded yearly to the best player based in Europe who is under the age of 21 based on their performance for the past year.

It comes as absolutely no surprise that Bellingham is the frontrunner to win the award based especially on his exceptional showing since joining Los Blancos this summer.

Carlo Ancelotti is full of praise for Bellingham

Before even joining Real Madrid, Bellingham caught the attention of Florentino Perez after becoming the German Bundesliga Player of the Season in 2022/23. He played for the German side as a midfielder, and received the most votes from fans, clubs and experts in the prize awarded by the DFL (German Football League).

In his final year with the German side, the Englishman scored 14 goals and provided seven assists in 42 appearances. He also showed off his defending prowess by winning 482 tackles, which was more than any other player in the league that season.

He also showed his versatility by having taken more shots on target than any other player in the Dortmund side in 2022/23. This is in fact a skill that he has clearly shown off since joining the Santiago Bernabeu side.

Bellingham has already scored his eighth La Liga goal of the season, plus another two goals in the UEFA Champions League. At just 20 years old, manager Carlo Ancelotti has praised Bellingham for his maturity on the pitch.

Following the club's most recent win against Osasuna in La Liga, Ancelotti said: "He's very good and has adapted very well. We as a club, and the fans, are lucky to have signed such a spectacular player. His maturity is remarkable, he makes us forget that he is only 20."

Bellingham has embraced his new position at Real Madrid

The Real Madrid faithful were in complete shock when the club failed to sign a big-name striker to replace former captain Karim Benzema, who left this summer to join Saudi Pro League side Al-Ittihad.

However, Ancelotti decided to put Bellingham in a false 9 position, and even in the absence of Brazilian star Vinicius Junior due to injury in the early part of the season, Real Madrid were surprisingly strong in the attack.

Bellingham found himself just behind the strikers, but he is so far behind no one in the entire league when it comes to his goal tally. The closest contenders are a handful of players on five goals, including teammate Joselu Mato.

Football pundits from around the world could not stop talking about the fact that Bellingham has already found himself on the same scoring pace as Cristiano Ronaldo, who also set La Liga on fire when he joined Real Madrid way back in 2009.

Already seen as a generational talent, Bellingham is expected to bring his scoring prowess when he suits up for England under manager Gareth Southgate. They will be facing Italy on October 17 in the Euro 2024 qualifiers, and it remains to be seen if he will shine.

Bellingham is not a shoo-in for the award

Even though there is much hype surrounding the Real Madrid player, he is facing some tough competition for the Golden Boy award from FC Barcelona youngster Alejandro Balde.

The latter is also seen as an exceptional talent, and Barca manager Xavi Hernandez has shown a lot of confidence in him in recent months. However, the 19-year-old is a defender, and it will perhaps be harder for him to catch the eye comparing to a goal-scoring machine.

Wildcards were also given to Arda Güler, Lamine Yamal, El Khannouss, Martin Baturina and João Neves. The award will be given around November, and it remains to be seen if any of the other nominees will be able to outshine Bellingham in the coming month.