Ghana whiz kid Christian Atsu is a hot favourite to win the 2012 Golden Boy Award given to the best European footballer under the age of 21 .
The FC Porto player has been named in a 38-man shortlist for this year gong which will be voted for by 30 journalists from all over the continent.
The 20-year-old was named Rio Ave’s Player of the Year in May- a club he spent last season on loan.
He scored on his international debut in June this year during a 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Lesotho at the Baba Yara Stadium.
Atsu dazzled again for Ghana in September and scored one of the goals in the 2-0 win over Malawi in the first leg 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at home.
But he faces stiff competition from Bayern Munich’s Alaba; Raheem Sterling of Liverpool, Joao Moutinho of Inter Milan, Iker Muniain and Malaga’s Isco.
The Golden Boy Award is organized by Italian sports newspaper Tuttosport and the winner decorated at a December ceremony in Turin.
The full list of candidates:
Alaba (Bayern Munich); Ananidze (Spartak Moscow); Atsu (Porto); Bahebeck (Troyes); Campbell (Real Betis);
Castaignos (Twente); Courtois (Atletico Madrid); Coutinho (Inter); Deulofeu (Barcelona); Draxler (Schalke 04);
Dudu (Dynamo Kiev); El Shaarawy (Milan); Eriksen (Ajax); Gotze (Borussia Dortmund); Guidetti (Manchester City);
Isco (Malaga); Jese (Real Madrid Castilla); John (Benfica); Kadlec (Sparta Prague); Koke (Atletico Madrid);
Kovacic (Dynamo Zagreb); Lalkovic (Vitoria Guimaraes); Lamela (Roma); Longo (Espanyol); Markovic (Partizan Belgrade); Martins Indi (Feyenoord);
Muniain (Athletic Bilbao); Musa (CSKA Moscow); Obiang (Sampdoria); Oxlade Chamberlain (Arsenal); Ozdoev (Lokomotiv Moscow);
Pogba (Juventus); Salah (Basel); Shelvey (Liverpool); Sterling (Liverpool); Varane (Real Madrid); Verratti (PSG) and Xhaka (Borussia Monchengladbach).