Last season was very competitive for talent in La Liga, as we saw several young attacking players compete in their debut seasons for their respective clubs. Individuals such as Antonio Sanabria and Paco Alcacer were the standout names from 2015/16 who will be expected to make an even bigger impact during the forthcoming campaign. 

It’s time to take a closer look at  four other young players who are expected to make an impact during the 2016/17 campaign.

Mikel Oyarzabal – Real Sociedad

After being promoted to the first team last summer by David Moyes, Mikel Oyarzabal has been a bright spark, despite the fact the overall team performance left a lot to be desired. The 19-year-old’s hard work was rewarded with a call-up to the national squad by Vicente del Bosque and he played 30 minutes against Switzerland in a friendly match.

The key test for the winger will be to see if he can replicate his performances from last season, especially when the competition for a place in the starting line-up will increase this year. Oyarzabal slowly became a favourite for manager, Eusebio Sacristan, who picked him for the first team on 16 occasions during the second half of the campaign.

He has the natural ability that could see him develop into one of the best wingers in the league, and if he continues to command a place in the starting line-up, then he has the right foundations in place to allow him to reach his full potential.

Dani Ceballos – Real Betis

Despite only being 19 years old, he made 34 league appearances for Real Betis last season.

Dani Ceballos has turned into a key presence at the heart of midfield, with his ability to defend and attack, giving Gus Poyet the perfect balance for his first team selection. Despite playing in a number of different positions, either wide left or central midfield appear to be his best positions, which has meant that he has drawn comparisons to established La Liga stars Isco and Koke.

If he continues to be an influential player for Real Betis next season, then this will only firm up the reported interest from the likes of Real Madrid, Arsenal and Liverpool.

Marco Asensio – Real Madrid

After the success of last season’s loan at Espanyol, Zinedine Zidane will surely give Marco Asensio a chance to prove himself this season. This could possibly begin during the summer, with the manager including him in the squad for the pre-season. The 20-year-old scored ten goals and provided 4 assists during his time at Espanyol and was recognised as the club’s player of the year last season. 

That said it would perhaps be more beneficial for Asensio to be loaned out again next season, considering the wealth of talent that Zidane already has at his disposal. Playing regularly for a mid-table side would do more for his development than being stuck on the Real Madrid bench.

He can be used effectively either as a left winger or central attacking midfielder and represented Espanyol’s key attacking threat last season.

Asensio’s ability to keep possession in tight areas and dribble past players easily, as well as being a playmaker with an eye for a pass, make him very much one to keep an eye on and a potential star for Real Madrid in the years to come.

Jose Naranjo – Celta Vigo

After finishing as Gimnastic de Tarragona’s top goal-scorer last season, on 15 goals, Jose Naranjo earned himself a move to Celta Vigo in June. Before his transfer to La Liga, Newcastle and Aston Villa were also interested in him. The 21-year-old played a big role leading the side to a third place finish in the league, which gained them promotion to the Spanish second tier.

Having secured a move to the top flight of Spanish football Naranjo has the dedication, passion and most importantly talent to make an instant impact. With Celta Vigo’s key player, Nolito, having been sold to Manchester City this summer, it could mean the striker could be called into action straight away.

Naranjo is a goal poacher, similar to Paco Alcacer, who had a fantastic season on a personal level. When he does get his chance in the Celta Vigo first team, don’t be surprised if Naranjo grasps this opportunity with both hands and makes a name for himself in La Liga.

About the author – Asif Norat

Asif is a Manchester United fan, who simply loves the beautiful game. The youngster is a big admirer of the Premier League and La Liga, and also has an eye out for many young talents coming into the footballing world.

twitter: @HerreraTekkers


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Home to historical towns, magnificent climates and food Andalusia is one of the most attractive regions in the whole of Spain. The autonomous Spanish community is also home to one of the fiercest derbies in the world, three footballing powerhouses and an impressively long list of players who have came out of the region.

Spanish football has always had a massive emphasis on youth and this region is no different; Real Betis, Malaga and particularly Sevilla have always realied heavily on youth. In recent times, Malaga have placed a huge importance on introducing younger players into their first team activites, which is more out of necessity than choice, but the benefits are already being felt in a financial sense. Since the removal of support from their Qatari owners, Malaga have made youth development one of their most important revenue streams. The departure of both Samu’s and Sergi Darder to Villarreal and Lyon respectively has signalled that the conveyor belt has finally stuttered into motion with the absence of a big financial backer. What is most impressive is that Javi Garcia and Malaga continue to improve despite their average age being particularly young.

Down the coast into the city of Seville both, Real Betis and Sevilla have been using youth as a fundamental part of their club policy and as such have been producing players for many years. However, despite their successful business model a criticism of Sevilla is that their current squad only boasts three players from Andalusia – a far cry from the teams that housed the likes of Sergio Ramos and Jesus Navas who went on to be sn integral part of Vicente Del Bosque’s European and World Cup winning teams. Their recent emphasis on buying in foreign players has limited the influence home grown players have had on the fortunes of the team. But the fans do not seem to have a care in the world as Unai Emery and his legion of foreign players are currently going through their most successful period. However, prodigal son Jose Antonio Reyes and goalkeeper Sergio Rico continue to fly the Andalusian flag at the Sanchez Pizjuain.

Betis, however, are seen as a club of the people and are completely apathetical of their bigger brothers across the city. Their recent relegation to La Segunda meant that foreign imports were shed in a bid to cut their wage bill. A situation that draws similarities with Malaga, although Los Boquerones (Anchovies) were never relegated. As such, Betis have 9 Andalusians in their squad of 23 inclusive of one of the most exciting prospects in Spanish football. Dani Ceballos actually began his player career as a Sevilla player, before they released him. Since then, the 19 year old has gone on to become an integral part of Spain’s U19 squad as well as one of the most important squad members in the full Betis side. A creative player, who relies heavily on pace and skill he is one of the most coveted players in Europe. Betis also produced one of the most exciting players Spanish football has produced in recent times, Joaquín, and despite his lengthy career doesn’t seem to have gained the plaudits he deserves.

Outside of of the three giants, Andalusians have made their mark on football all over Spain and as well as the rest of the World. Just above the coast of Portugal in Vigo, Nolito is proving to be particularly outstanding playing in the left-wing position for Celta and looks as though he may return to Barcelona where he failed to make the grade first time round. In London, former Real Betis goalkeeper Adrian, is playing a vital role in West Ham’s ascension to the top half of the Premier League.

Andalusia has produced so many footballers that you could make a team that could easily challenge teams across Europe. An all time selected XI would look something like this:

Adrian (West Ham); Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Fernando Hierro (Real Madrid) Carlos Marchena (Villarreal), Juantio (Betis); Isco (Real Madrid), Samu (Villarreal) Jose Antonio Reyes (Sevilla), Joaquín (Betis), Nolito (Celta Vigo); Jesus Navas (Manchester City).

About the Author – Ben Jarman

Freelance football writer with a penchant for Spanish and European football. Work published by Fulham FC, Italian FA and the Evening Standard.

Twitter: @sonikkicks


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