The Spanish top flight has always been one of the Premier League’s most successful recruitment pools, but that trend has amplified over the last few years.
During the summer transfer window – where we witnessed the largest collective spend in Premier League history at £858million – £239million was devoted to La Liga talents alone. The only top flight English clubs spent more money on was the Premier League itself.
Indeed, through a combination of exceptional academy systems and a disparity of wealth throughout, La Liga has a knack of producing high-quality players with exceptionally reasonable price-tags, especially in regards to their younger players.
So, it would be good practice for the likes of Manchester United to make sure they’re up to date with all the youthful starlets breaking through. And just in case the Old Trafford side have been lackadaisical in this regard, we’ve listed the FIVE La Liga youngsters already earning rave reviews this season.
Manchester United are by no means short on firepower, but the Red Devils would be wise to join Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea in pursing Valencia starlet Paco Alcacer:
Tottenham plot Paco Alcacer transfer in January with Pochettino unconvinced by Adebayor and Soldado: The Spurs boss… http://t.co/MS8sxLNWrA
— Football-News (@Bot_Football) September 27, 2014
— ITV Football (@itvfootball) September 18, 2014
The 21 year-old striker has been in lethal form so far this season, as shown below:
That potency in the final third has propelled Alcacer to the forefront of Vincente del Bosque’s plans, with the Spain boss issuing the Valencia prodigy his competitive debut against Montenegro during the recent international break.
Alcacer has previously claimed back-to-back European Championships at U19 level. Here’s a look at the young front-man in action:
Fernando Torres-esque dare I say? No particular definitive strength, yet an impressive and efficient all-round game. The Valencia prodigy’s contract currently includes a £15million release clause, leading one Spanish publication to dub him ‘the bargain of Europe‘.
A continent-spanning bidding war could well ensue in January, but Los Che plan to bump Alcacer’s buy-out fee to a whopping £40million.
Another young striker causing waves in Spain’s top flight is 22 year-old Leo Baptistao.
Often referred to as ‘the second best Leo in La Liga’, the Brazilian comes highly rated, with his performances for Rayo Vallecano during the 2012/13 campaign earning a move to Atletico Madrid that summer. Here’s a look at the performances that brought him to Vincente Calderon:
Baptistao struggled for game-time last year as the Mattress Makers launched a surprise coup for the La Liga title, and he had little impact during a six-month loan spell with Real Betis, starting in January 2014.
But he’s back with Los Vallecanos this season and demonstrating his potency once again. His four goals in five appearances constitutes one of the best goal-per-90-minute returns in the Spanish top flight:
That includes this ferocious header against Levante last weekend:
Baptistao comes with huge pedigree – he played for the same Futsal side as Neymar back in Brazil:
He’s undoubtedly one to watch for the future, but Atletico appear happy to hold onto the South American for now.
Manchester United raided Athletic Bilbao this summer with their £24million swoop for playmaker Ander Herrera, and they’d be wise to return to the Basque outfit for centre-back Aymeric Laporte.
The 20 year-old is widely regarded as one of world football’s most exciting defensive prospects, and has been proving he’s worthy of such status with a plethora of strong performances over the last few seasons, as shown below:
Indeed, no player has averaged more interceptions per match in La Liga this year:
And Laporte is already adapting to Champions League football remarkably well:
The Red Devils are certainly in need of some added bodies in defence and the France U21 would fit the bill perfectly, being capable of playing at left-back or centre-back.
He may not be the experienced signing fans are hoping for, but regularly eyed by the likes of Arsenal, Barcelona and Bayern Munich, signing Laporte now would secure the future of United’s backline for the next decade.
That being said, Bilbao are no fools and in June raised his release clause to an outrageous €42million. Here’s a look at Laporte in aciton:
Valencia are famed for their prominent youth system and their latest product to show great promise is Cordoba loanee Fede Cartabia.
The 21 year-old is enjoying a rich vein of form amid his year-long stay away from Mestalla, as shown below:
In fact, he’s La Liga’s most proficient dribbler so far this season:
And some video proof for any doubters out there:
Cordoba have reserved the option to buy but the Argentina U20 may find himself privy to a higher calibre of suitor if his level of performance is maintained until summer 2015.
Following the paths of David Silva and Juan Mata through Los Che’s academy set up, Cartabia is a similar type of player – lacking in natural athleticism and defensive awareness but technically exceptional and incredibly creative.
Here’s a look at the 5 foot 7 attacker in action for Valencia last season – during a Man of the Match display against Sevilla:
Coming in at the near-retired age of 24, Sevilla midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak is by far the oldest player in this article.
The Poland international earned his move to Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan this summer after impressing in Ligue 1 over the last few seasons with Stade Reims:
Here’s a look at Kyrchowiak in action for the French outfit:
And he’s started his La Liga career in a similar vein, as shown below:
The Sevilla starlet’s technical qualities leave a lot to be desired – his pass completion is currently just 79%. But Krychowiak is already proving himself to be a mean defensive midfielder, breaking up moves proficiently and showing particular dominance in the air.
He likes to get on the scoresheet too; the mifielder bagged around four goals per season for Reims and also hit the net during a Europa League tie with Feyenoord earlier this month:
Having only just joined the Palanganos ranks in a €4.5million deal, Sevilla won’t be looking to sell any time soon. But the Polish enforcer remains one to watch for the future.