La Liga News: Top 5 Strikers Looking to Break Through La Liga This Season
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The 2013/14 La Liga campaign is under way, meaning an abundance of young strikers will be dreaming of breaking through the Primera division’s elite.
By the conclusion of the season, the harsh reality is that only a handful of new names are likely to leave their mark—so it is time to look at La Liga's top five prospects.
The following shortlist is made up of players who have the potential to exceed 15-20 La Liga games for their clubs this season whilst creating goals and more importantly, finding the back of the net themselves.
We start with a couple of honourable mentions in Gerard Deulofeu and Alvaro Morata.
Honourable Mentions: Gerard Deulofeu (Barcelona)
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The Spanish Under-20 international demonstrated his talent during last summer's Under-20 World Cup in Turkey, scoring two goals in four games before Spain were eliminated at the quarter-final stage by Uruguay.
Gerard Deulofeu was prolific last season for Barcelona B, scoring 18 goals in 33 games—with an impressive strike rate of a goal per every 132 minutes of action.
Despite no La Liga matches last season, the youngster did sample 18 minutes in the Champions League against Spartak Moscow and Benfica.
Promoted into Barcelona's first team, sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta has justified the loan of Deulofeu in addition to another of his star players (midfielder Rafinha has been loaned to Celta Vigo): “We want to see if they perform at the same level in first-division football; we have high expectations.”
However, Deulofeu has been brave and skipped Spain to test himself in England. He has joined Everton for the season and thus is held to an honourable mention slot.
As per Andy Hunter's interview with Deulofeu's new manager in the Guardian, it is refreshing to hear that Roberto Martinez will not rush the young Spaniard into the Toffees' lineup:
"For someone so young to feel they want to help the team is something you want to see as a manager. We need to be patient with Gerard. We will see the best of him in January or February."
Honourable Mentions: Álvaro Morata (Real Madrid)
Alvaro Morata made La Liga appearances under Jose Mourinho
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Alvaro Morata understands the competition he faces in becoming a regular with Real Madrid—particularly during a summer which has provided endless transfer speculation at the Bernabeu.
In a press conference covered by RealMadrid.com, he described his perspective:
"The best players will always be linked with the best team. I'll keep fighting whoever comes; this is Real Madrid, and the best will always come here. I am going to work hard, learn from my teammates and fight to play."
Following Gonzalo Higuain's sale to Napoli, Morata, who played 12 times for Real last season in La Liga, is expected to do battle with Karim Benzema in determining who spearheads the Los Blancos attack this season.
Furthermore, Morata followed up his maiden La Liga campaign with four goals and two assists during Spain's triumphant Under-21 European Championships.
With that in mind, the 20-year-old is excluded from the top-five ranking since he has already notched up over 400 La Liga minutes (scoring twice)—arguably making his La Liga mark in the process.
Real were so impressed with the youngster's form and his potential, to the extent they ensured he was never considered as part of the Gareth Bale package during their tough negotiations with Tottenham Hotspur.
5. Jesé (Real Madrid)
Jesé was prolific for Spain at U19 and U20 levels last season
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The 20-year-old had a prolific 2012/13 season as he netted 22 goals in 38 appearances (including 12 assists) in the Segunda division.
His form was even more eye-catching for La Rojas as he scored five goals at the Under-20 World Cup and an additional five at the Under-19 European Championships, averaging a goal in Spanish colours every 74 minutes.
Based on the above evidence, Jese is ready for his La Liga opportunity. He took his first step by being an unused substitute during Sunday's narrow 1-0 victory over Granada.
Although Gareth Bale's pending arrival means Jesé could fall down the pecking order, the Daily Mail reported that Arsenal could swoop for three of his teammates. Even if only one of these deals materialises, the youngster will have ample opportunity in playing his part in this season's campaign.
4. Paco Alcácer (Valencia)
Paco Alcacer wheels away scoring for Spain (sourced live4liverpool.com)
In August 2011, tragedy struck Spanish starlet Paco Alcacer. After a preseason match for Valencia against Roma he was leaving the stadium with his parents when his father suffered a fatal heart attack.
At that point, Alcacer had already been earmarked for big things following 19 goals in 12 matches representing Spain Under-17s and Under-18s. As talkSPORT reported, Liverpool and Arsenal were monitoring in the Spanish youngster.
Following his father's passing, his development lost momentum as he only participated in eight games during the following season.
However, last season a loan move to Getafe ensued in 21 appearances in La Liga (15 of which were substitute roles) yielding three goals and providing one assist.
He has also continued with La Roja, currently representing at Under-20 level.
Despite Valencia acquiring Dorlan Pabon and Helder Postiga to fill the gap left by Roberto Soldado, Alcacer will remain with his parent club Valencia this season, where he will be hoping to make a name for himself in La Liga.
3. Rodri (Barcelona B / Almeria)
Rodri whilst at Zaragoza (sourced from insidespanishfootball.com)
His 12 La Liga appearances yielded two goals, in addition to his one goal in the Championship. He impressed enough that he joined newly promoted Almeria during the summer. In just two La Liga appearances into the current campaign, Rodri has already scored three goals.
In playing for one of La Liga's new boys, the Barcelona B man is likely to play a considerable number of minutes this season and giving the 23-year-old the maximum opportunity to shine in La Liga.
2. Thievy Bifouma (Espanyol)
Thievy Bifouma nets at the Mastrella against Valencia
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The French Under-21 international scored 11 goals and nine assists in 36 Segunda Division games last season plus two goals in six Copa del Rey games.
So far this campaign, the 21-year-old has come off the bench in La Liga to score against both Celta Vigo and Valencia, meaning Bifouma averages a goal every 26 minutes.
Although there is a long way to go, Bifouma has already laid down his marker as a super-sub—Espanyol will no doubt wish his form continues long into the season.
1. Haris Seferovic (Real Sociedad)
21-year-old Seferovic has moved to La Liga from Serie A
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Whilst with the Viola, the 21-year-old was loaned to Serie B side Navaro last season. Nine goals and six assists in 16 games later meant the Swiss and Bosnian national travelled across the Mediterranean Sea from Italy to Spain.
Two goals in four games (one in La Liga and one in the Champions League) in the 2013/14 campaign tends to suggest that the Swiss will leave his mark in the Primera division this season.
Having represented Switzerland at every level from Under-15 through to the senior team, Seferovic scored the winner during August's recent friendly against Brazil for Switzerland's senior side.
Of all the strikers mentioned, the combination of Seferovic's elevation to his senior national side plus his consistent Real Sociedad game time and goals (despite the season still being in its infancy) makes him the outstanding candidate to break through La Liga this season.