(Reuters) – Atletico Madrid forward Joao Felix has been awarded the 2019 Golden Boy gong after a stellar year where he became one of the most expensive players of all time, Italian sports newspaper Tuttosport announced on Wednesday.
The 20-year-old received 332 votes to beat Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho (175 votes) and Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Kai Havertz (75 votes) to pick up the award that recognises players under the age of 21.
Felix, who moved from Benfica for 126 million euros (£108 million) in the close season, is the fourth most expensive signing of all time after Neymar (222 million euros), Kylian Mbappe and Philippe Coutinho.
“Thanks to Tuttosport for the Golden Boy Award 2019, I am very proud,” Felix said in a statement. “Thanks also to Benfica, in particular to coach Bruno Lage for all he has done for me and my family that is always close to me.”
Felix became the youngest player to score a Europa League hat-trick in a 4-2 win over Eintracht Frankfurt last season and helped the Lisbon side win the Portuguese league title with 15 goals and seven assists in 21 starts.
At Atletico, he has been billed as the replacement for Antoine Griezmann, who made the switch to rivals Barcelona, and he has three goals and one assist in all competitions so far.
The award has been won by the likes of Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney, Paul Pogba and Mbappe in the past and Felix is the second player from Atletico to win it after Sergio Aguero in 2007.
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)