sport news Jadon Sancho, Joao Felix and Matthijs de Ligt lead the 10-way fight to win the ...

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The Kopa Trophy is an award presented to the best Under-21 player in European football, with the 10-man shortlist of starlets this year including the likes of Jadon Sancho, Joao Felix and Matthijs de Ligt.

Kylian Mbappe clinched the prestigious title in its first year and the prize honours the sport's greatest fledgling talent, with the added bonus that it is also voted for by former Ballon d'Or winners.

Here, Sportsmail takes a close look at each of this season's contenders battling it out for the 'mini Ballon d'Or'... 

Kylian Mbappe won the inaugural Kopa Trophy last year, but a new champion will be crowned

Kylian Mbappe won the inaugural Kopa Trophy last year, but a new champion will be crowned

PREVIOUS WINNERS 

2018 - Kylian Mbappe (PSG)

JADON SANCHO

Age: 19

Trophies won this year: German Super Cup

Key stat: Scored 12 goals in 34 Bundesliga appearances last season. 

Despite rumours of a high-profile breakdown in relationships at , Jadon Sancho is a worthy nominee for the award and links to several of Europe's elite sides are more than justified. 

The England star had enjoyed a fine breakthrough season with the German club last term, scoring 12 goals and registering 14 assists in the Bundesliga. 

He was subsequently named in the division's Team of the Season, and even continued his stellar form at the start of the current campaign before tensions mounted with Lucien Favre. 

But after being dropped for Dortmund's defeat at Barcelona for lacking focus, Sancho will have no shortage of suitors in the Premier League and is already considered a £100million player.

Jadon Sancho has made a phenomenal impact with Borussia Dortmund at the age of just 19

Jadon Sancho has made a phenomenal impact with at the age of just 19

JOAO FELIX

Age: 20

Trophies won this year: Primeira Liga, UEFA Nations League 

Key stat: Felix joined Atletico Madrid for £113million in the summer transfer window.

The former Benfica star's impressive performances for the Portuguese side secured the wonderkid an eye-watering £113m transfer to Atletico Madrid in the summer.

Across Europe's top seven leagues, Felix had ranked third among teenagers for combined goals and assists, finishing behind fellow award contenders Kai Havertz and Sancho respectively. 

Felix also contributed to Portugal's Nations League victory, and was more recently awarded with the Golden Boy accolade as the best under-21 player in the continent. 

Comparisons to legendary compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo this season suggest that Felix possesses the ability to rise to the very top of the game.

Joao Felix's superb performances for Benfica earned him a £113m switch to Atletico Madrid

Joao Felix's superb performances for Benfica earned him a £113m switch to Atletico Madrid

MATTHIJS DE LIGT

Age: 20

Trophies won this year: Eredivisie, Dutch Cup

Key stat: Became the youngest ever player to be fielded in a major European final when Ajax were defeated by .

After breaking through Ajax's youth ranks to cement himself in the Dutch giants' first team, De Ligt has progressed from strength to strength over the course of the last year. 

The 20-year-old even netted the winning goal in the Champions League quarter-final against Juventus, who would soon prove to be his future employers, and helped prolong the club's dream European run. 

De Ligt had originally endured a difficult start to life with the Serie A champions, but he now appears to have settled into life in . An outstanding defensive showing against Atletico Madrid in this year's European competition solidified the starlet's spot as one of Europe's brightest prospects. 

Matthijs de Ligt proved himself as one of Europe's brightest prospects before joining Juventus

Matthijs de Ligt proved himself as one of Europe's brightest prospects before joining Juventus

MOISE KEAN

Age: 19

Trophies won this year: Serie A

Key stat: Was the youngest goalscorer for in a competitive match.

Moise Kean's switch to Everton has gone poorly for the former Juventus forward, but the 19-year-old remains one of Europe's brightest striking prospects. 

Despite his woes under Marco Silva at Goodison Park, Kean boasts two Serie A titles to his name from his spell with the Serie A giants, and has scored twice for his country on the international stage. 

The electric frontman had also remained at Juventus for an extra season in order to learn from five-time Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo. 

Kean was handed his Premier League debut in Everton's goalless draw with Crystal Palace in August, and has been linked with a return to his homeland with AC Milan. 

But with Silva on the brink of being axed, the youngster will likely be called upon once again to salvage the club's faltering form.

Moise Kean has endured a frustrating start to life at Everton despite often starring for Juventus

Moise Kean has endured a frustrating start to life at Everton despite often starring for Juventus

KAI HAVERTZ

Age: 20

Trophies won this year: none

Key stat: Became the youngest player in Bundesliga history to reach 50 appearances.

A reported seven European giants are in talks with Bayer Leverkusen over the signing of German starlet Kai Havertz, with a £110m valuation touted for the playmaker. 

The 20-year-old has impressed in the Bundesliga after breaking into the Leverkusen first-team in 2017, and he netted 17 top-flight goals last season. 

After being awarded his international debut earlier this year, ,

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