The 5 Biggest Surprise Stars in La Liga This Season
Every season in Spain is full of surprises.
Clubs that are expected to do well and finish in the top of the tables end up disappointing and failing to live up to their potential—see Sevilla from last season or Atletico Madrid the year before as proof.
Other clubs surprise everyone and end up finishing well above their weight in the league. Levante and Mallorca come to mind here as recent examples.
The same surprises come at the individual player level as well. Each season gives us surprise breakout stars that most people never saw coming.
Two years ago Salomon Rondon became a smash hit when he scored 14 goals in his first season with Malaga. That same year, David de Gea developed into one of the league's best keepers.
Last season, Michu surprised everyone in Spain by leading all midfielders with 15 goals before carrying his great form to England this year.
Other players such as Isco and Mateo Musacchio had breakout campaigns as well.
It is still early in the season, but already we are seeing glimpses of the same sort of surprising play and breakout potential from many players in Spain.
Some are young stars who are poised to start proving their talent while others are getting their first shot at the first division.
What follows is a list of five surprise stars in La Liga so far this season.
Tomer Hemed (Mallorca)
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I admit, this one is on the border.
Some may say that Mallorca's Israeli striker started to breakout last season, but I think one has to manage at least double-digit goals to fit that bill.
I know we have only made it through three matches, but it looks like Tomer Hemed should certainly manage 10 goals by the season's end.
The 25-year-old from Haifa managed eight goals last term and added two more in Copa del Rey matches. He showed inconsistent glimpses of a finisher who could double that output in one season.
Now he already has three goals in two games. That's good for second-most in the league.
Hemed has scored as many goals as Radamel Falcao and more than Cristiano Ronaldo.
That lead won't last long, but he has also taken more shots than anyone in Spain outside of Ronaldo, Falcao and Lionel Messi.
A target of 15 goals may be realistic after all.
Victor Perez (Valladolid)
Welcome to La Liga, Victor.
After spending his entire career in Spain's lower division, the Valladolid midfielder is finally getting his first taste of top-flight football.
After spending most of his career in Madrid, the 24-year-old helped lead a talented Pucela side to the Primera Division and aims to keep his team there next season.
At this early stage in the 2012-2013 season, Perez has been one of the best passers in Spain.
Only Xabi Alonso and Xavi—two of the premier midfielders in the world—have averaged more passes per game than the Castilian midfielder
Perez's pass accuracy—which currently stands at 87.7 percent—is actually better than the Real Madrid maestro's.
Let's see if he can keep it up all year long.
Abdel Barrada (Getafe)
Atletico Madrid—check. Real Madrid—check.
The Getafe midfielder has now scored against his team's two biggest local rivals.
Last season Barrada scored a key goal in a 3-2 victory over Los Rojiblancos in a match where Getafe played a man down for much of the match.
Two weeks ago, on August 26, the Frenchman played the best match of his career against the reigning La Liga champions.
He assisted Juan Valera on Los Azulones' first goal to draw level with Jose Mourino's men and later scored the winner that sealed this season's biggest upset to date.
The 23-year-old followed that performance up with a last-minute goal against Deportivo that saved a point for El Geta.
It is too early to know whether or not Barrada will keep this up, but there certainly have been signs of a great upcoming season for the attacking midfielder.
Willy Caballero (Malaga)
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images
What a start for the Malaga shot-stopper.
Going into the season, it was unknown whether Caballero would even start with Carlos Kameni on the squad.
After hearing that he would start the opener against Celta Vigo, many thought it may be one of only a few chances he would get between the posts.
So far, the Argentinian has played every minute for Malaga and has relegated the Cameroonian No.1 to the sidelines.
Through the first month of play, Willy Caballero has been the league's best keeper. If he continues to play this well, he may keep the 28-year-old Kameni on the bench all season.
Iago Aspas (Celta Vigo)
Of all the players with a surprising start to the season, Iago Aspas looks most poised for a breakout campaign.
With this being at least the third time you've read about him, I hope you start paying more attention to the midfielder through the rest of the season.
The Spaniard has been one of the best midfielders in the league to this point, scoring one goal and assisting one more.
His 4.3 key passes per game is the best in the entire league.
Aspas pleased Celta fans on September 3 when he signed a contract extension that will keep him at the club beyond 2015.
If he continues this level of play, however, it will be hard for the Galician club to hold onto the midfielder next summer.
Please comment below and let us know which surprise stars you have most been impressed with so far this season.