La Liga Youngsters (Part II)

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Testament to the amount of promising young talent in Spain, at a time where the gap between European football and relegation is so delicate and slim in LaLiga, there are plenty of youngsters who have already been able to cut their teeth in one of the most competitive divisions on the continent.

Igor Zubeldia

Igor Zubeldia (£0.82) has been involved with the Spanish Under-21 side, despite playing in a position in central midfield which is packed full of talent in all age groups. The same age as the well-known Mikel Oyarzabal (£1.79), Zubeldia flies a little lower on the radar, no doubt due to the role that he has played for Real Sociedad over the last couple of campaigns.

Most adept in a deep-lying position in midfield, providing the balance required for three teammates to support lone striker Willian Jose, Zubeldia has also had the occasional job of filling in as an auxiliary defender too. The 21-year-old is mature, determined and has an excellent mentality, as well as having the technical ability and composure to get his foot on the ball in busy games.

 

Cucho Hernandez

On loan from Premier League outfit Watford, Cucho Hernandez (£1.64) has been a key man for Huesca since arriving at the club at the start of last season in Segunda. His goals helped the club to their first promotion to LaLiga, and his role in the squad hasn’t diminished since extending his stay for another season.

Popping up with three goals so far in LaLiga, a modest total, Cucho is digging in and relishing the chance to learn at the highest level possible. His Colombia debut at the tail end of last year shows that the 19-year-old is being watched closely by his country, and his movement, speed, and instinct in front of goal make him an interesting player to watch mature as the months roll by. He compares himself to Sergio Aguero, and you can see certain similarities between their styles.

Ferran Torres

A goal and an assist in the Copa del Rey recently was the welcome boost that Ferran Torres (£2.55) needed during what has been a difficult campaign for the 18-year-old. After making his debut in the cup against Real Zaragoza last season, the teenager has been kept around Marcelino’s first-team group, which has seen the Spaniard make two starts and nine appearances from the bench in LaLiga since the summer.

A traditional winger who is direct, skilful and pacy, Ferran is taking positive steps forward in a demanding environment at a very young age. The youngster has netted five goals in nine competitive games with Spain’s under-19 side, and should only continue to improve over the coming years. A loan deal might be needed to get him the exposure he deserves, but Ferran’s potential is plain for all to see.

Samu Chukwueze

Villarreal may be having a torrid season, where they currently face the very real threat of relegation, but Samu Chukwueze (£3.36) has been an utter revelation. Joining the club in the summer of 2017 for 500,000 euros from Diamond Academy in Nigeria, the 19-year-old had previously picked up experience in Villarreal’s B team and continued to build upon the reputation he’d planted back at home, where even Arsenal had been sniffing around him.

Starting nine of his 10 league games so far this campaign, Chukwueze has become indispensable for the Yellow Submarine at a time where things look bleak. His impact from the right-hand side has been terrific, causing problems as both a wide man or part of a front two, with his dribbling ability, decision making and cutting edge standing out. His five goals and an assist in first-team action make him one of the division’s stand-out young talents in 2019.

Vinicius Jr

Many expected Gareth Bale (£6.11) to step up after the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo (£9.62) from Real Madrid during the summer, but 18-year-old Vinicius Jr (£8.90) has been the player to make the biggest statement in that regard since the appointment of Santiago Solari. The teenager hasn’t had any major injury issues to count against him, and has grabbed his chances with both hands while Marco Asensio (£4.53) and Bale have been sidelined and Isco (£4.73) marginalised.

The Brazilian starlet has goals to his name in the league, Copa del Rey, Champions League and Club World Cup, but the telling factor regarding his potential is how his teammates treat him. Vinicius is a regularly used outlet for Los Blancos, stepping up to the plate out on the left wing and trying to make things happen in the final third in games where they have really struggled to create. His acceleration, agility and dribbling make him a threat in and around the box, and his influence should only grow as the season progresses.

 

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About Author

Simon Harrison is a Spanish football writer, featured on websites and in publications such as Talking LaLiga, Tifo, FourFourTwo, Unibet, the i paper and WhoScored.

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