After an inspiring start against Italy, the bookies have backed Raheem Sterling to compete with heavy-favourite Paul Pogba to win the Best Young Player Award at the World Cup this summer after having his odds cut from 10/1 to 2/1 because of his performance against Italy.
Prior to the World Cup starting the top seven to win the award, according to the bookies, were: Paul Pogba (4/1), Romelu Lukaku (6/1), Julian Draxler (7/1) Adnan Januzaj (9/1), Raphael Varane (10/1), Raheem Sterling (10/1) and Ross Barkley (10/1) along with notable mentions for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (20/1) and Luke Shaw (33/1)
After the first-round of games, as expected, the list has shifted and the odds have changed on certain players to pick the award up at the end of the season with Raheem Sterling making the biggest improvement.
Obviously, the decision to play Sterling against Italy wasn’t one that, prior to the match, seemed straight-forward and a number of critics thought that his inexperience in big occasions, like the Italy game, could have had a detrimental effect on the side. Nevertheless, he couldn’t have done more to prove them all wrong.
In the new list for the award, the French talisman Paul Pogba still remains the favourite to claim the award at the end of the season, but with Sterling at just 2/1 the bookies believe he has a serious chance of claiming it.
Lukas Podolski and Thomas Muller are the two previous winners of the award and with Julian Draxler being Germany's best chance of an hat-trick at a long 16/1, largely due to lack of playing time, it seems likely that a representative from another country will win it.
Pogba and Sterling, in the bookies eyes, seem to be in a two-horse race for the award at the minute but with many games left to play between now and 13th July, and no guarantees over England’s qualification to the knockout stages, then you cannot rule out the other members of the top five in Lukaku, Varane and Depay.