Whilst these players aren’t all necessarily wonderkids, they’re fantastic young talents that would be well worth the investment, that’s if you’re able to pry them away from their starting clubs, especially those already playing for major clubs in Europe’s top five leagues. Both Real Madrid and Barcelona have fabled academies, Barcelona’s ‘La Masia’ particularly providing a number of Spain’s current stars.
For ease of scouting, we’ve narrowed down the search to players under the age of 21, including their value, wages, current ability (CA) and potential ability (PA). Naturally, these ratings are all relative to the club through which you scout the players. I’ve used Barcelona (to take advantage of their extensive scouting network), so potential ability may appear higher on your games if you use clubs of lesser stature than the Catalan giants.
Rubén Blanco, 20, GK, Celta Vigo (£1.6m, £8.5k p/w, CA 2.5 – PA 5)
Potentially the long-term successor to David de Gea in the Spanish goal, but Blanco is currently still in Spain’s U21 squad and isn’t the finished article just yet. Nonetheless, he’s already strong in one-on-one situations (15) and has good reflexes (15). He’s also determined (16) and fairly brave (13), aiding his overall play. Importantly, too, he’s agile (16) and has a high level of decision-making (15). Celta are unlikely to want to sell the player, but if you persist, you’ll be acquiring Spain’s next great goalkeeping talent.
Álex Grimaldo, 20, LB, Benfica (£4.7m, £13.25k p/w, CA 3 – PA 5)
Benfica’s young left back, Grimaldo, is a great Spanish talent who’s capable of playing in a variety of positions down the left flank. He’s a fairly ambitious youngster, though needs to improve his physicality (strength 8) and aerial presence (jumping reach 6, heading 7). However, Grimaldo is very technical; dribbling 15, passing 14 and technique 17. For his base attributes, his crossing needs improvement, though he can tackle (14) and mark (12). He’s also hard working, composed and brave.
Jesús Vallejo, 19, CB, Real Madrid (£3m, £8.25k p/w, CA 2 – PA 4)
Real Madrid’s 19-year-old centre back is currently on loan at Frankfurt in the Bundesliga, though the Spanish giants are unlikely to want to sell this high potential youngster. This is because he’s already very mentally aware of the game, even at a young age. He has a fantastic team work ethic (18), plus his composure (17) and anticipation (17) underlay his approach to the game. Technically, Vallejo is a strong tackler (14), marker (15) and passer (13), so he’s best suited to the role of ball-playing centre-back.
Héctor Bellerín, 21, RB, Arsenal (£22.5m, £45k p/w, CA 3- PA 4)
A product of Barcelona’s ‘La Masia’ youth academy, Bellerín joined Arsenal in 2011 and had established himself as their first choice right back by 2014, with a host of top clubs already circling for his signature. Speed underpins the youngsters overall game and he’s one of the fastest players on FM17 with a pace rating of 20 and acceleration rating of 20. He’s also agile (15) and naturally fit (16). He offers a threat going forwards (crossing 13, passing 11), but he’s also defensively resolute (marking 13, tackling 15 and positioning 13). The cherry on top of the Bellerín cake is that he’s determined (15) and works hard, too (work rate 16).
Sergi Samper, 21, CM, Barcelona (£5.25m, £26k p/w, CA 2 – PA 3.5)
FM nuts should already be aware of Sergi Samper as he consistently develops into a top-drawer talent further into the game. He’s on loan at Granada at the minute, but he’s a deep-lying playmaker that has emerged out of Barcelona’s academy. In this role, Samper will excel because of his fantastic passing (17), technique (16), first touch (18) and vision (16). Mentally, Samper’s highly composed (16) and makes great decisions (17), underpinning his ability to pick the right pass. Whilst his work rate (9) lets him down, if you ask him to hold his position, he can really excel as your team’s deep lying creative outlet.
Mikel Merino, 20, DM/CM, Dortmund II (£3.5m, £8.5k p/w, CA 2.5 – PA 5)
Perhaps Merino and Samper will, one day, line up side-by-side in Spain’s senior team. Dortmund’s 20-year-old central midfielder is one to keep your eye on, even though the German club don’t want to sell the player. This is probably because he can pass (15) and has a great first touch (14). Mentally, though, Merino stands out the most. He’s extremely hard-working (17) with a good level of teamwork (16), plus he’s determined (19), composed (19) and brave (17). It’s for these reasons that Merino will become a class deep-lying playmaker.
Dani Ceballos, 19, CAM, Real Betis (£5.5m, £18.5k p/w, CA 2 – PA 4)
Ceballos is another versatile young talent, capable of playing as a number ten in the space behind the striker, right or left attacking midfield or as a central midfielder in a slightly deeper position. This is because he can dribble (14), pass (15) and finish (11). Technically, the 19-year-old has a great first touch (15) and technique (16). To aid his playmaking abilities, he has fantastic vision for a youngster (15), decision-making (14), bravery (16) and work rate (13). With the right nurturing and focussed training, Ceballos could become a key fixture of the Spanish senior team in the future.
Óliver, 21, CAM, Atlético Madrid, (£7.5m, £17.25k, CA 3 – PA 3.5)
Atlético don’t seem to rate Óliver too highly as they’ve shifted him out on loan to Porto and, perhaps, this is the player’s last chance to really make something of himself. Technically, he’s absolutely fantastic, best suited to the role of advanced playmaker because of his first touch (18), dribbling (17), passing (18), technique (18), vision (18) and flair (19). To have 17 or above in most of the position’s base attributes is phenomenal. However, the reason Óliver is yet to cut it, is because of his attitude. He’s not hard working enough (9), brave (7) and his concentration is poor (10). Work through these issues and you’ll have a future star on your hands.
Borja Mayoral, 19, ST, Real Madrid (£1.6m, £16.5k p/w, CA 2 – PA 3.5)
Surprise, surprise, there’s another Real Madrid player on the list. It’s for good reason though, as Mayoral certainly has the potential to develop into a leading striker in the future. He’s not a particularly well-rounded striker and, thus, is best served as a poacher. This is because he does the basics very well. He can finish (15), has a good first touch (15), works hard (16), has good off the ball movement (16) and he’s composed (16). Bear in mind that he’s just 19-year-old and these attributes are subject to future enhancement. The drawback, however, is that Mayoral isn’t physical enough (strength 8) so will need to do some work in the gym.