The league that made Lionel Messi is no stranger to shaping the careers of young talents. Indeed, La Liga have been a launching pad for several top youngsters in world football.
The Spanish national team has also benefitted massively as most players are homegrown. However, there have always been some standouts from the foreign lands. Therefore, it is no surprise that the league is always counted upon to produce top-class names.
Who is Unai Herandez, the latest young sensation signed by Barcelona from Girona?
Despite the supremacy of veterans in the best clubs, there are a number of teams who are not afraid to blood young guns. In that regard, FootTheBall looks at the top 10 starlets to watch out for in 2022-23.
Alejandro Balde (Barcelona)
The 18-year-old left-back is one of the brightest lights in Barcelona’s youth regiment. Balde joined the club in 2011 from Espanyol, before making his senior debut in late 2021.
— La Senyera (@LaSenyera) July 26, 2022
Xavi has not been afraid to inculcate a mix of veterans and youth graduates. Balde is also favoured by the fact that there’s not much competition in the left-back role.
Jordi Alba is the designated starter, and Balde will be his deputy. He has made five appearances so far, and is a regular for Spain U19s. With the club unlikely to sign a left-back, Balde would see his game increase manifold.
Takefusa Kubo (Real Sociedad)
The career of “Japanese Messi” has been a stop-start one. Kubo signed for Sociedad after failing to make a single senior appearance for Real Madrid.
He was constantly loaned out, which could not have been his easy. His output has not been anything special, which provided further impetus to his critics. However, the young star is still only 21, with his best years ahead of him.
Sociedad are a fine club to kickstart his career, and they could viably challenge for Europe in 2022-23. Therefore, Kubo will need to bring his A-game, and with the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar on the horizon as well.
Nico Williams (Athletic Bilbao)
One of the most exciting players in La Liga, Nico Williams made a sizeable impression in 2021-22.
Playing down the right flank, Williams ran defenders ragged alongside regularly getting into dangerous areas. Moreover, he had enough in the tank to chase down attackers and thwart chances.
Nico Williams is one of the crown jewels in Bilbao currently and is primed to have an excellent 2022-23. Bilbao had a poor last season and would want to change the narrative as soon as possible.
Jesus Vasquez (Valencia)
The promising left-back played 15 times in 2021-22 as the backup to Jose Gaya. With the latter’s future uncertain, Vasquez is in pole position to become the starter in 2022-23. The Spain U19 international has been a steady hand whenever he has played.
Vasquez has shown excellent judgment and ball-control on both ends of the pitch. Therefore, it will be no surprise to see him take on extra leadership roles as the years progress.
Pablo Torre (Barcelona)
An intriguing signing by the Catalans in the midst of their transfer splurge. Torre arrives from Racing Santander where he established himself as one of the best upcoming players.
🎙 Xavi talks about Pablo Torre: pic.twitter.com/u8siAh3VZc
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) July 26, 2022
The attacking midfielder can do magic with the ball and fits right into the youth revolution happening in midfield. Torre would take some time to get accustomed to the playing style, but there is no doubt fans would be seeing a lot of him.
Moreover, he has been one of the most consistent players for the Spain U19s and continues rising amongst the ranks.
Mohamed-Ali Cho (Real Sociedad)
A very promising forward who was playing in Ligue since the age of 16. Cho came through the Angers academy, before playing with the senior side.
He was one of the youngest players in Europe in 2020, before becoming a mainstay in 2021-22. Cho scored four goals in 32 appearances, before sealing a switch to Sociedad. Despite being 18, there is great hope from the France U21 international.
Cho can partner brilliantly with Alexander Isak and would be the perfect pair to take Sociedad deep in league and Europe.
Nico Serrano (Athletic Bilbao)
No surprise that Bilbao have another player in the list, and this is not their last. Serrano joined the club’s youth setup in 2018, before progressing directly to the B-team in 2020. He spent 2021-22 shuffling between the senior team and the reserves.
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Serrano appeared eight times in La Liga, and the winger will only see his game time increase. Moreover, he is also a known name for Spain U19s, scoring four times in three appearances.
Juan Miranda (Real Betis)
The silver medallist at the Tokyo Olympics came through La Masia before joining Betis on loan in 2020. Miranda would excel as the 20-year-old left-back showed great poise and flair to run and up down the flank.
Last time Real Betis won Copa del Rey, 5 year-old Juan Miranda travelled to Madrid to see the final, a final in which 23 year old Joaquín won with Betis
Today 22 year old Miranda scored the winning penalty so that 40 year old Betis captain Joaquín could lift the trophy pic.twitter.com/DIsw8yCoaC
— Alexandra Jonson (@AlexandraJonson) April 23, 2022
That led to him making the move permanent and he had a fairly solid 2021-22. Still only 22, Miranda has played through ever level of Spain’s youth teams, before making his senior debut in mid-2021.
Miguel Gutierrez (Real Madrid)
Yet ANOTHER left-back on the list! Gutierrez has been with Los Blancos since 2011. He was a regular for the Castilla side from 2020, before making his senior debut in April 2021.
Gutierrez featured three times in 2021-22 with Ferland Mendy being the starter. However, the young star is set to see a significate increase in game time in the coming season.
Gutierrez has also the facets to succeed at the highest level, and Madrid have a very exciting bunch for the future ready.
Julen Agirrezabala (Athletic Bilbao)
The lone goalkeeper on the list, Bilbao have a great history in this department. Unai Simon is the current incumbent, but Agirrezabala is one to watch out for.
He was a regular with the B-team since 2020, before making his debut in 2021. Agirrezabala featured four times last season, and could become a staple in the domestic cup competitions.
Moreover, with Bilbao having hired Ernesto Valverde, the 20-year-old goalkeeper should be in safe hands.