La Liga is not just the home of the world’s best players, but also some of the finest talent currently in modern football. Spain has produced some of the finest technical players in last twenty years such as Xavi Hernandez, Xabi Alonso, Andres Iniesta and David Silva, while also playing a major part in the development of Lionel Messi, and this trend looks set to continue.
Below you’ll find ten of the best young talent currently residing in La Liga, including who they play for, what positions they play, their value and their current/potential abilities according to the best scouts in the game.
Unai Lopez, 20, CM/RM/ACM/RW, A. Bilbao B (on loan at Leganes) (£2m, £6k p/w, CA: 1.5 – PA: 3.5)
Spain and creative midfielder are two terms that have become synonymous in recent years, and Unai Lopez is part of the next batch of technically proficient midfielders. His fits the mould of Advanced Playmaker like a glove with his First Touch (15), Passing (14), Technique (16), Anticipation (15), Off The Ball (14) and Vision (14), although his extremely low defensive attributes make him ill-suited to a deeper position. Fortunately, his versatility allows him to play on the flank as well as behind the striker.
Dani Ceballos, 19, CM/ACM, Real Betis (£5.5m, £18.5k p/w, CA: 1.5 – PA: 3.5)
Ceballos is similar to Lopez in many ways, being an archetypal Advanced Playmaker. He’s more comfortable in deeper positions, though, not being a total liability defensively and knowing how to position himself well on the pitch (13). For a 19-year-old, he boasts good Decisions (14) and his high Bravery (16) ensures that he won’t be a player that is afraid of the tackle and won’t go hiding when the going gets tough.
Antonio Sanabria, 20, ST, Real Betis (£3m, £14.25k p/w, CA: 1.5 – PA: 4)
Once at Barcelona, Sanabria played for numerous clubs before landing at Real Betis. He enjoyed a successful season at Sporting Gijon last time out, scoring an impressive 11 La Liga goals at 19 years of age, and this year looks set to add to that with some very impressive attributes. With high Technique (16), First Touch (17) and Dribbling (15), Sanabria is a striker comfortable in tight spaces and capable of carving out opportunities for himself, while his high Finishing (15) enables him to score them. Most of your work with Sanabria will be on improving his mental and physical attributes. With enough care and attention, Sanabria can become a complete quality centre-forward.
Mikel Oyarzabal, 19, ACM/RW/LW, Real Sociedad (£8m, £37k p/w, CA: 2 – PA: 4)
Here we have a fascinating player. Oyarzabal broke onto the scene at the back end of last season, bagging six goals in a short space of time. He boasts a high CA and PA to begin with, enough to be considered a wonderkid in game, but, curiously, has several random attributes which mean how good a player he could be is completely up to chance. However, the possibility that he could have great attributes and becoming a top player justifies his inclusion on this list.
Martin Odegaard, 17, ACM/RM/RW, Real Madrid u19s (£2.2m, £81k p/w, CA: 1.5 – PA: 4.5)
You’ll struggle to find many 17-year-olds with better attributes than Odegaard. The Norwegian made headlines when he emerged from Stromsgodset at just 15 years of age, and won his first caps for Norway in the same year. Now at Real Madrid, he’s not as easy to obtain, and his wages are outright ludicrous for a player his age. Nonetheless, he’s a player with excellent First Touch (17) and Technique (17), while his Passing (14), Dribbling (15), Flair (15) and Vision (15) should develop into high attributes. You would need to work on his very low Stamina (9) and Strength (5), however, if he’s to be truly ready for the top level.
Ruben Duarte, 20, DC/DL/WBL, Espanyol (£2.3m, £10.5k p/w, CA: 1.5 – PA: 4.5)
In an era in which full backs are known for their attacking qualities, it’s rare to come across one who’s strengths are his defending. Ruben Duarte already looks a mature player, with good attributes for a full back: Technique (14), Marking (13) and Positioning (15). He’s lacking the explosive pace and crossing ability required to be a wing back, but could develop into a good centre back, provided you put in the work to improve his Jumping Reach (8), Heading (9) and Strength (11). Being a very good passer (13) with good vision (12) means he could become a good ball playing defender or even a defensive midfielder.
Jorge Mere, 19, DC, Sporting Gijon (£2m, £9.75k p/w, CA: 2 – PA: 5)
Like Duarte, Mere is another defender you might consider converting to a midfielder. On top of his already good Heading (13), Marking (15) and Tackling (14), Mere is a good passer of the ball (14), has great technique for a centre back (14) and a workable first touch (11). Excellent Stamina (16) increases his suitability for a midfield role. That’s not to say, of course, that he wouldn’t be worthy as a defender. Aerial weakness aside, Mere has all the makings of a top class centre back, and playing for a Sporting side expected to fight relegation, he could well be a cheap pick up.
Lucas, 20, DC/DL/WBL, Atletico Madrid (£4.7m, £19.75k p/w, CA: 2 – PA: 5)
We have yet another great centre-back in the making, this time in the form of Lucas. The Atleti youngster is quick across the ground (Acceleration 14, Pace 14) and strong in the tackle, with high Tackling (15) and Strength (14), while also being able to play at left back and even left wing back. His Concentration (11) is a bit on the low side, but something that should improve with age. With Atleti already having a strong group of central defenders, it may be possible to tempt them into letting Lucas leave.
Nicolas Schiappacasse, 17, ST, Atletico Madrid u19s (£1.1m, £55 p/w, CA: 1.5 – PA: 5)
Staying with Atleti, it seems they have the next great Uruguayan attacker, though I daresay he’s likely to be just known as “Nicolas” in the future. Schiappacasse is on the raw side but at such a young age he already has great Technique (15), First Touch (14), Acceleration (14), and Pace (14). His decent Crossing (13), Passing (12), Flair (14) and Vision (12) make him capable of being a creative influence as well as a scoring one. With enough game time, he could become one of the best centre-forwards around.
Marco Asensio, 20, AMC/MC/RW/RM/LW/LM, Real Madrid (£13.5m, £14.75k p/w, CA: 2.5 – PA: 5)
Asensio is perhaps Spain’s most promising talent today, and this is reflected by one of the highest PA’s in the game. He continues Spain’s tradition of producing midfielders with outstanding technical ability, possessing high stats for Technique (18), Passing (16) and First Touch (17), while also being a threat running at the opposition with high Dribbling (17) and Flair (17) along with decent pace (15). On top of that, his Curl Ball preferred move and Long Shots (14) ensures he’ll score some outstanding goals from distance. Prising him away from Madrid will be an expensive endeavour, but not an impossible one given their depth in attacking positions.
Know of any other La Liga wonderkids? Let us know in the comments.
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