The Best 11 New Players Who Could Step into the Spanish National Side
Spain: the world's best international team, the current reigning World Champions and double-winning European Champions.
A squad forged from the finest players on the globe playing in the top leagues on the continent; a wealth of experience, an admirable style of playing and the mentality to come back and prove they are the best, time and time again.
An irreplaceable and perfect force of football then?
Well, not quite. Some of those "experienced" heads are treading the fine line before "ageing," while still others are not at their best domestically. Sooner or later, Spain will need to turn to the next generation of stars who can eke their way into the starting lineup.
Here are the 11 players most likely to do that over the coming months or years—not including anybody who has already gained more than 10 caps or any player who has already played a significant part in Spain's international tournament triumphs.
Goalkeeper: David De Gea
With Spain's goalkeepers now all over 30 (Reina, Valdes, Casillas) they will shortly look to integrate a new stopper into the side in the hope of an eventual seamless transition, perhaps in the next European Championships session, or maybe even in four years' time for the next World Cup qualifiers.
Either way, David de Gea looks like the man most likely to get the call up, even if he is currently out of favour at club Manchester United.
He is currently uncapped at full international level.
Full-Backs: Martin Montoya and Nacho Monreal
Nacho Monreal has already been in the Spanish team—he has nine caps—but has perhaps missed the boat in nailing down a regular spot. He got his chance in particular in 2010, but with Jordi Alba being three years younger and ahead of him in the starting role, Monreal didn't do enough to suggest he could be the first choice.
Monreal still has time to develop further, though, and should remain an important squad player and will get further chances to add to his caps if Alba misses out.
On the right, Martin Montoya might be an outside bet since he has yet to really have an impact with his club, Barcelona, but he is a talented defender who is very calm on the ball.
He might need to move away from his big parent club to fulfil his talent, much in the same way that current right-back Alvaro Arbeloa has done, before returning home.
Montoya is uncapped, but has been in the full Spanish squad.
Centre-Backs: Javi Martinez and Alvaro Dominguez
Two talented Spaniards have left for new pastures this summer in Germany's Bundesliga: Javi Martinez and Alvaro Dominguez. They have both already been capped by Spain, eight times and twice, respectively.
Martinez has only played in midfield for Spain so far and looks like he will continue his career at Bayern for now, but had great success as a playmaking central defender for Athletic Bilbao.
He could be a very worthwhile option for the national team in this position in case Gerard Pique is unable to play.
Alvaro Dominguez has moved to Borussia Monchengladbach as part of their rebuild and is a young defender who will continue to improve.
With already three full seasons under his belt with former club Atletico Madrid, Dominguez is a talented player who is calm in possession but strong in the challenge.
Central Midfielders: Beñat and Oriol Romeu
Oriol Romeu is making his way at Chelsea after a stop-start first season, but has all the attributes to be a really top-class central midfielder over the coming years.
He is a fine passer with a great range, can use either foot, is not scared to make challenges and lacks nothing of confidence.
Beñat has made great strides over the past year, establishing himself as a major player for Real Betis and making his debut for the full national team, too.
In the centre, he combines positional and tactical awareness with great on-the-ball ability. At 25, he is not a youngster, but still has much time to make an impact on the big stage.
He has been capped three times, while Romeu remains uncapped.
Attacking Midfielder: Thiago
Another attacking Barcelona midfielder, Thiago Alcantara is already a regular in the match-day squad at club level and will seek to make himself a regular starter this season, which in turn will see him more involved at the international level.
Thiago already has three caps to his name at 21 years of age.
Supremely talented on the ball, he can dribble, pass and shoot with equal ability.
Thiago comes from footballing stock; his father was a World Cup winner for Brazil and his younger brother is also part of Barcelona's set-up (Rafinha).
Wide Forwards: Isco and Iker Muniain
Maybe the two singularly most gifted youngsters on the continent right now, Isco is making headlines with Malaga and Iker Muniain has been a prodigious talent, showcasing his abilities with Athletic Bilbao for the past three seasons.
In terms of ability and maturity, Muniain is perhaps the finest teenage footballer in Europe at present.
Blessed with pace and combining a wonderful attitude with genuine technical excellence, Muniain is not only adept at cutting in from the left to attack on his right foot but also at playing a deeper, central-attacking midfield role.
Isco is a player who prefers playing central but is well suited to a wider role with licence to roam as well.
The two would certainly be a fountain of creativity and excitement, but they also happen to play in areas particularly well stocked in the current Spain set-up.
Muniain has one cap so far, Isco, none.
Centre Forward: Adrian
Centre forward is, perhaps strangely, the one area where Spain doesn't have a genuine young challenger for the full squad.
In time, Iker Muniain will doubtless play more regularly as a central striker, but for now, perhaps Atletico Madrid's striker, Adrian, is the biggest hope; he hit 19 goals in all competitions last season, by far his best return for a single campaign.
At 24 years old he has yet to make the biggest possible impact and, it must be noted, Spain are equally happy to play with no centre forward at all as put in somebody who might not do the job to the greatest standard.
One goal in two caps for Spain is a good start—Adrian scored on his debut—but he still has work to do to fully convince Spain that he can be a regular at the top level.