Fans of the beautiful game are all united in one thing asides their love for the game: The adoration of bright young talents, regardless of the club they play for. It’s time to take a look at the nine most talked about youngsters you should keep an eye on throughout the 2019-20 campaign, in no particular order.
DIEGO LAINEZ – 19; Real Betis Left winger
Diego Lainez, dubbed the “Mexican Messi” by the media is a product of the Mexican Liga MX. He rose through the ranks at Club America and made his debut at 17 years for the senior team. Within a year of his debut, he had already attracted interests from clubs around the world but opted to join Real Betis in January 2019 on a five-year contract in a deal worth £11m, becoming the youngest player to emigrate from the Liga MX.
He has been capped four times already for the Mexican senior national team in the same year he was called up to the U-18 team where he played eight times and scored once. He has made 12 appearances for los Verdiblancos in 2018/19 and is expected to have a much more important role in the team during the 2019/20 campaign.
SAMUEL CHUKWUEZE – 20; Villareal Right winger
Samuel Chukwueze joins the small list of Nigerians who have plied their trade in La Liga, and was one of the revelations of the 2018/19 season, with notable performances against Barcelona and Real Madrid.
He joined Villareal from Diamond Football Academy, a local academy in Nigeria in 2017 at the age of 18 and a year later, made his debut for the first team of Villareal. He has made 26 appearances for the Yellow Submarines and has scored five goals for them. He is also a nine-time Nigeria international, and was one of the young players of the just concluded African Cup of Nations tournament in Egypt. He is currently valued at €30m.
He is a player in the mould of Arjen Robben as he is a strong dribbler who likes to cut inside the defense. His passing abilities need some work still, but he is a threat down the right wing for the Yellow Submarines and he was very involved in many of their forward surges in his appearances last season.
Villareal has put more faith in him this season as he has been given the number 11 shirt, and he will be playing a much more important role in the team during the 2019/20 campaign.
FERRAN TORRES – 19; Valencia Right winger
This lad has already spent two seasons in the Valencia senior team and will be playing in his third this season despite being only 19 years old. This is how highly rated by the club Ferran Torres is. Coming up from the ranks of the Valencia academy, he is no stranger to their style and philosophy which has made his adaptation easy. He is currently valued at €20m by the club.
Very strong in the air and a good passer of the ball who excels at through passes and cut backs, he affords Valencia the element of surprise whenever he is used, hence his 37 caps for the team till date. He has also been capped by the Spain U-19 side and was the hero at the UEFA European Under-19 Championship this summer, where he netted both goals in the final to give Spain a 2-0 victory over Portugal.
He is not expected to be an important player for the squad, but he’s got the quality to quickly become one for los Ches.
RODRYGO GOES – 19; Real Madrid Left winger
Versatile Brazilian youngster Rodrygo, recently bought for €45m from Santos in the Brazilian league as part of a new Galacticos era for Real Madrid will be playing in his first season of European football in the 2019/20 campaign.
He can be played centrally in midfield and as a centre forward as seen in pre-season, while he has also been deployed on the right side of attack while at Santos. He scored nine goals in 41 appearances for Santos in the Brazilian Serie A, winning the Best Newcomer award for 2018.
With a price tag like that, he has a lot to prove and definitely has the quality to do so, even with stiff competition for places in the Madrid squad.
LUKA JOVIC – 21; Real Madrid Centre forward
Already a proven goal scorer in league competitions and in Europe, Luka Jovic is another Madrid newcomer to watch out for in the 2019/20 season. He was acquired by los Blancos who had to see off competition from top European sides from Eintracht Frankfurt in a reported €60 million transfer deal after impressing with his goal scoring exploits.
He netted 17 goals in the Bundesliga last season in 32 appearances and was joint-third highest in the league. He also came second in the Europa League with 10 goals in 11 games, as Frankfurt lost to Chelsea on penalties in the semi-finals.
Jovic will be relied upon to back star striker Karim Benzema up, but has the quality to start alongside Benzema. He is one to look out for this season.
JOAO FELIX – 19; Atletico Madrid Supporting striker
This is another newcomer to Madrid, but this time to the red and white corner of the city capital. Brought in on a world record €126 million (for a teenager) to replace the departed Antoine Griezmann, Felix, dubbed as “the next Cristiano Ronaldo” by the media, is a bright young star who is currently riding the wave of superstardom so well, it feels like he has been in the game longer than his age suggests.
Joao Felix was trained by two of Portugal’s biggest clubs, Porto and Benfica, and he went on to earn 26 caps for the Benfica first team, scoring 15 goals in the process.
Atletico had to battle Juventus, Barcelona and Man City to secure his signature and they have not regretted it since because he has slotted in seamlessly at the club.
Atletico is a club known for housing prodigious young talents like Diego Costa, Sergio Aguero, Fernando Torres and Radamel Falcao and in Felix, it looks like they have another gem in their hands who has already polished himself and will use their pedestal to shine.
FRENKIE DE JONG – 22; Barcelona Central midfielder
Frenkie De Jong is arguably the world’s most talented midfielder right now, and it is an achievement that is so impressive seeing that he only has 4 years of senior professional experience in a role known to be dominated by veterans.
He didn’t think twice when Barcelona came calling for his services from Ajax, as he saw the Catalan team as the perfect team for him, having already been schooled in the ways of Johan Cryuff’s total football philosophy.
He is already justifying his €75m transfer fee as he has started the first two match weeks for Barcelona in the 2019/20 season, benching veteran Ivan Rakitic in the right side of the park. Ambidextrous, sturdy, and excellent at through balls and short passes, he is definitely going to be a hit in the 2019/20 season of La Liga.
CARLOS SOLER – 22; Valencia Right winger
Carlos Soler will be coming into the season riding on the successes of the past few months – first, a Copa del Rey triumph against former holders, Messi-led Barcelona with Valencia, and then the UEFA U-21 trophy with Spain. He is a versatile player who can play as an attacking central midfielder as well as in the supporting striker role, and is a reliable option for coach Marcelino.
He is on the radar of Man City, PSG and Barcelona, among a host of top European clubs and is currently valued at €50m by his club. A very good passer of the ball whose strengths lie in through balls and long balls, Soler adds creativity that many clubs seek in their midfield. And with the acquisition of the aerially super Maxi Gomez to bolster their strike force, Soler will find more ways to improve his final balls, inadvertently making Valencia more dangerous this season.
Valencia will be hoping for another strong season and keeping Soler, who has become a mainstay in Valencia’s midfield, will go a long way to helping achieve that.
UNAI NUNEZ – 22; Athletic Bilbao Central defender
Some might say he didn’t face the full might of Barcelona on opening day, but the young central defender was instrumental to the clean sheet at San Mames in their 1-0 victory over the reigning champions of La Liga.
He played 33 matches in his first full season with Bilbao in addition to 3 Europa League fixtures, and was named in the 100 Best Young Players to watch in 2018. Not one to shy away from a tackle, good in 1v1 situations, strong in the air and very focused with no significant weakness, Unai Nunez has proved an excellent replacement for Aymeric Laporte who joined Manchester City in the 2017/18 season.
He is currently valued at €15m by his club but looks like he will stay a part of the Bilbao set up for a while, and they are sure to benefit from his defensive contributions.
There are a few more youngsters who deserve to make this list, but based on the recent showings and available statistics, these nine have been on everyone’s lips as well as every media. They will bring the spark to a league known for veteran performances and will hopefully usher in a new age where the youngsters gain more clout in Spain.