Six La Liga Youngsters To Watch

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La Liga is bursting with young Spanish talent and it proved a difficult job to choose just six players to watch but I did just that. Read on to discover my choices.
Ferran Torres (£1.70, here)
With just about every club in Europe including Real Madrid, Barcelona and Liverpool looking to steal Ferran Torres away from Valencia, this April saw the club sign the 18-year-old to a new deal until 2021 with a buyout clause of €100m.
With all potential predators suitably discouraged, Torres broke into the first team squad of the club where the young midfielder/winger has spent his entire footballing career from the age of six.
He made his La Liga debut on 16 December, playing the last nine minutes in a 1–2 loss at SD Eibar.
He has also represented his country at Under 17 level 24 times and made five appearances for the Under 19s.
There is plenty of competition for his place on the right wing or on the right-hand side of midfield with players like Carlos Soler, Goncalo Guedes and Denis Cheryshev but there are still many in Valencia that believe he should be in the starting XI.
Many believe he would benefit from more playing time and there was talk of a loan deal to Real Sociedad although Marcelino rejected the idea and has made it more than clear that the youngster is very much part of his future plans.
He has also grabbed the attention of UEFA who have included him in their list of the 50 young stars to follow this season.
Abel Ruiz (£2.00, here)
Valenciano from the small town of Almussafes, Abel started with Valencia before joining the Barcelona Academy as a 12-year-old
An old-fashioned number nine, he plays in a similar style to Robert Lewandowski and has also been compared to a young Marco Van Basten.
According to Diario Sport, he has already attracted the attention of a number of Premier League clubs including Arsenal, Chelsea and Man City.
In fact, he is so highly rated by the club, that in June when he extended his contract for a further three seasons with an optional two more, they also included a staggering 100m€ buyout clause. This is in place to deter any bids to entice him away from the Camp Nou.
An elegant centre-forward with a nose for goal, Ruiz has a physical presence as he is 1.82m tall but he can also play on the wing. “I’m a more direct player, a good finisher,” he told Diario Sport earlier this year when asked to explain his style. “I hold the ball well with my back to goal and I consider myself a complete forward.”
He is the top goalscorer in the history of the Spain under-17 team on 27 goals and is also its most-capped player with 37 appearances. He is also the top goalscorer in the history of the UEFA European Under-17 Championship finals: eight goals (shared with Amine Gouiri and Odsonne Edouard) and the top goalscorer in the history of UEFA European Under-17 Championship on 16 goals (shared with José Gomes)
Carles Alena (£2.81, here)
Already a member of the first team squad he is, to many, the answer to Barcelona’s search for a long-term midfield influence following on from the likes of Andres Iniesta and Xavi.
Although hampered by injuries, he is now back to full fitness and has made his debut in the first team. If he goes on to become a regular, he will be the first player from La Masia since Sergi Roberto to nail down a place in the first team.
A left-footed midfielder who is an excellent striker of the ball, Carles Aleñá has been an FC Barcelona player since the age of eight. His natural ability has seen him rise quickly through the youth teams to reach Barça B. When he was still officially an U19A player, he was already a fixture in the B squad.
Aleñá is a different kind of midfielder. With a great left foot, he is strong and not afraid to take players on. Furthermore, he is not afraid to come inside and use his technical ability to shoot from outside the box
On 30 November 2016 he made his debut for Luis Enrique’s first team in the Copa del Rey tie away at Hércules which ended 1-1. The midfielder from Mataró scored Barça’s only goal of the game with an excellent effort from outside the box.
On 6 September 2017, Aleñá signed a contract extension with FC Barcelona for the next three seasons with a buyout clause of 75m€.
Fran Beltran (£1.39, here)  
Born in Sesena in the South of Madrid, Fran Beltran is generally regarded as one of the hottest young prospects in La Liga
Aged just 19 he was in Getafe’s Academy, he joined Rayo Vallecano’s set up aged 14 and played in their reserves in the third division when he was just 16.
He signed a five year deal with Celta Vigo in August of this year after they paid his  €8m buyout clause. While Celta were ecstatic about having signed him Rayo were less than impressed about how things panned out, claiming that while things may have been done legally, morally Celta had been found wanting in their handling of the deal.
Celta meanwhile couldn’t have cared less claiming in a press release that they had signed him because he was, “a talented player who shows great physical fitness, defensive strength and ball-winning qualities and brilliant intelligence with his control and distribution of the ball.”
He made his debut in the Primera Liga on 18 August, starting in a 1–1 home draw against RCD Espanyol.
Since then he has been an automatic starter in all but one of the league games this season when he came on from the bench. He previously made his debut with Rayo at just 17 and made 71 appearances for them between 2016-18 and he has already represented his country at Under 17, 18 and 19 level.
Achraf Hakimi (£2.67, here)
Achraf Hakimi has much in common with Dani Carvajal and not just because they are both Real Madrid players who play as right backs.
The 19-year-old Hakimi is currently the right back of preference at high-flying Borussia Dortmund who are taking the Bundesliga by storm and where the Madrid born Moroccan International is on a two-year loan deal.
It was only after taking the advice of Dani Carvajal who had previously been on loan at Bayer Leverkusen that he opted to go to the Bundesliga and so far it is proving to be a very wise decision.
He had already made his debut for the Real Madrid first team and with regular first-team options limited in the coming season it suited all parties that he should improve as a player at the highest level possible
“I had a lot of offers, but Dortmund’s was the one that had me convinced,” Hakimi said. “The team likes to play very attractive football and they try to make young players better. I had Carvajal in front of me at Real, but he told me to make the most of the opportunity: go there, play and enjoy it.”
“He’s playing so well,” said Dortmund head coach Lucien Favre. “He’s great going forward and he does a good job at the back. He played at left-back for Morocco, but prefers to play at right-back. He has so much potential.”
So much so in fact that his performances have earned him the right-back berth ahead of the established Dortmund legend, Polish defender, Lukasz Piszcek.
In addition to his club football he has already represented Morocco 19 times as a full international making his debut when aged just 16.
Marc Roca (£1.15, here)
These are truly heady days at Espanyol who find themselves after eight La Liga games in fifth place, separated from a fourth-placed Real Madrid by virtue of just one goal fewer scored.
A regularin the starting line up this season, central midfielder Marc Roca is a product of the Espanyol academy that he joined as an 11-year-old back in 2008.
New Espanyol coach, Joan Francesc Ferrer ‘Rubi’, has placed his faith in Roca in the vital pivot role linking defence and midfield and the young Catalan has rewarded him by taking to the role like a duck to water.
Although it was the previous coach, Quique Sanchez Flores that gave him his chance in the first team, he spent most of his time on the bench and played just 100 minutes all season.
Now almost certainly one of the first names on Rubi’s teamsheet, much of Espanyol’s early form has been attributed to Roca’s great start to the season and he has been rewarded with a call-up for Spain’s under 21 side for both of their forthcoming qualification games for the European Championships.
He previously came onto the radar of various Premier League clubs including Liverpool and Southampton and Espanyol’s recent run of good form will once again push the 21-year-old defensive midfielder right back into the spotlight.
Any attempts to lure the central midfielder away from Espanyol will come at a much higher price now however following his signing of a contract extension that should keep him at the club until 2022 and includes a buyout clause of €40m.
All of these players and more are available to trade on Football Index here:

About Author

Guillem has written for major newspapers in Spain and England, featured as a pundit on Sky Sports and BBC, and co-wrote with Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino, Brave New World: Inside Pochettino's Spurs. He has also written other award-winning books on Cristiano Ronaldo, Pep Guardiola and Lionel Messi.

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