The KOPA Award is usually presented to the best player under the age of 21 plying his trade in Europe for a calendar year. The award was birthed in 2018 by the organizers of the Ballon d'Or awards (France Football Magazine).
This award is similar to the Ballon d'Or award with the only difference being the age restriction, design, and modus of voting. The winner of the award is usually decided by the past recipients of the Ballon d'Or awards such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Modric, Owen, etc.
The presentation is set to take place on November 29 which is the same date as the main Ballon d'Or award presentation. However, last year's KOPA Award was canceled due to COVID-19 with De Light of Juventus winning it last in 2019.
Many have however tipped Bukayo Saka, Mason Greenwood, and Pedri as the strong favorites for the award based on their performances in the 2020/2021 season.
However, despite the nominations, I think Bukayo Saka deserves to be crowned the outright winner judging by his stats so far which includes;
Scoring seven(7) goals and providing ten(10) assists is the highest number amongst the three strong favorites. He was also voted Arsenal's Player of the year, helped England get to the EURO 2020 finals but missed the crucial penalty in the shootout.
He was also instrumental in Arsenal's journey to the Europa League semi-finals last season which they eventually lost to Villarreal through goal aggregate. He has also started the current season on a high flier by scoring two goals and providing an assist in their resurgence to life after such a horrible start.
Nevertheless, his chances of winning the awards boil down to two controversial reasons:
1. Non Participation in the UEFA Champions League
The winners of these past awards were ably represented in the UEFA Champions League which is a more recognized platform for one to be seen across Europe due to the involvement of the top elite clubs.
Arsenal has missed out on Champions League football for more than five years now since the 2016/2017 season with their best appearance in Europe coming in the Europa League. Mbappé and De Ligt were fully involved in the UEFA Champions League.
In the light of this consideration, Pedri could stand a greater chance over Mason Greenwood judging by the talented Spanish player's involvement in the Euro 2020, Olympics, UEFA Champions League, and La Liga.
The youngster was superb for Barcelona with Messi tipping him for bigger achievements based on his exceptional qualities.
2. The Voters Will Be Majorly Those That Played In La Liga
Remember that the winner of the award will be decided after votings have been concluded by the past winners of the Ballon d'Or and looking at the records, the most winners are those who played in La Liga.
The likes of Lionel Messi, Luka Modric, Cristiano Ronaldo, Ronaldo De Lima, Ronaldinho, etc. It can be argued that these players cannot stop watching or reading some major headlines regarding La Liga and so, it can be assumed that they'd most likely come across the name 'Pedri' and cast their votes for him.
But all things being equal, whom God has destined to be the winner, will emerge as one irrespective of the criteria or political involvement.
I wish other nominees the best of luck and to Bukayo Saka, the sky will always be your limit. Cheers to bigger accomplishments in the future.
PHOTO CREDITS: Google Images, Getty Images, Sky Sports, Goal.
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