Spain’s La Liga is littered with impressive youngsters. Youngsters who are superstars in the making. Youngsters who have shown that their future clearly lies at one of Spain’s, or Europe’s, big guns rather than at their current mid to lower table employers. Here are the best eleven of them.
Formation: 4-3-3 (Admittedly not a perfect 4-3-3, but close enough).
Sergio Asenjo (20 years old) – A no-brainer to start with. Having just turned 20, the young Spaniard is already considered by many to be the natural successor to Iker Casillas in the Spanish national team. After two impressive season in La Liga with Valladolid, his big move is on the horizon, with a deal sending him to Atletico Madrid all but finalised.
Ivan Marcano (22) – Racing Santander may have been average last season, but defender Marcano was not. One of his teams most consistent performers, his outstanding form had him linked with a move to Real Madrid. Whilst this move may never become a reality, a move to a club such as Valencia or Atletico Madrid is well within his reach.
Nicolas Pareja (25)– A gold medal winner with the national team at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Argentine joined Espanyol from Belgium side Anderlecht at the beginning of last season. He was a solid contributor both in defense and attack, scoring three goals, as Espanyol came back from the dead to survive relegation.
Fernando Amorebieta (24) – Born in Venezuela to Basque parents, Fernando is yet another quality product of the Athletic Bilbao youth system. A tall, strong, no-frills centreback, he has represented Spain at U19 and national level. Like many of his teammates, his fierce allegiance to Los Leones may prevent him pursuing a move to a bigger club.
Felipe Luis (23) – He’s part Italian, part Polish, was born in Brazil and has already worn the Selecao colours at U20 level. A mainstay in the Deportivo La Coruna defense last season, this kid can play. That’s why he comes with a price tag in the region of 20 million euros. His current employers won’t get that much, but 10-15 million would represent good business for them and a good investment for would-be suitors such as Barcelona.
Jose Jurado (23) – On loan to Mallorca from Atletico Madrid last campaign, the attacking midfielder was a major contributor, scoring nine goals and provided a number of assists in what was a massive season for the former Real Madrid youth product. With Maniche and Ever Banega gone, the time seems perfect for Jose to return to Atletico and fulfill his true potential.
Javi Martinez (20) – Athletic Bilbao are far from a rich club, so when they shelled a reported 6 million euros for a 17 year old who had never played a senior match, eyebrows were raised. Three years on and the boy form Estella has proven to be an astute investment by the Basque club. His powerful displays in the centre of the park have seen him linked with a big move to Liverpool and he is surely on the wish list of a number of other clubs, both in Spain and abroad.
Juan Albin (22) – One of the first players rumored as a possible replacement for Kaka at AC Milan, Albin is a seriously underrated talent. Possessing the skills, pace and determination to succeed at the highest level, the Uruguayan’s 7 goals and 6 assists last season were vital as Getafe FC narrowly avoided relegation.
Pablo Piatti (20) – I rate this kid. Heavily linked with Juventus following an impressive showing for the Argentina U20’s at the 2007 World Cup, Almeria pulled of a major coup when they signed Pablo from Estudiantes before the beginning of last season. A versatile winger cum second striker, he scored 5 goals in what was an impressive debut season, including a crucial equaliser against Real Madrid at the Estadio del Mediterraneo. Destined for greatness.
Alvaro Negredo (23) – Negredo has been a star for Almeria since joining from Real Madrid two season ago. His 19 goals and 7 assists last season led to Los Merengues activating the buy back clause in his contract. Whether he remains at the Bernabeu is still uncertain, but what is certain is that he is a striker of immense talent that would fit in well at a number of Europe’s top clubs.
Jose Andres Guardado (22) – How this prodigiously talented left winger is still at Deportivo La Coruna is beyond me. The 22 year old was linked with Real Madrid and a host of Italian clubs before joining Depor from FC Atlas in 2007. The Mexican has since become a club and fan favourite and it seems only a matter of time before the big clubs once again come knocking.
Marcano Pareja Amorebieta Felipe
Jurado Martinez Albin
Piatti Negredo Guardado
Do you agree? Have I missed anyone? Who would you have in your XI? Let me know YOUR thoughts…