5 Candidates to Be La Liga's Next Big Star
To lead us away from the usual suspects, the following list looking at candidates to be La Liga's next big star has some strict rules:
1. Players must be 22 or under as of September 1, 2013.
2. Players cannot already be regulars at Barcelona, Real Madrid or Atletico Madrid—we already know all about Neymar, Isco and Koke.
3. Players can either be on loan in La Liga, or have been loaned out to other leagues.
Without wasting any more time, let's get going.
Five slots isn't really enough. Despite the short list being as high as 20 at one point, the executive decision was to keep the list as low as five.
Football is a ruthless business, after all.
However, when it did come to making cuts, these players were particularly unlucky to miss out.
Jese Rodriguez (Real Madrid)
Pacy, direct and a goalscorer; unfortunately, he was beaten to the list by a Real Madrid colleague with not too dissimilar attributes.
Santi Mina (Celta Vigo)
The more traditional No. 9 made his first-team debut earlier this year, and it looks as if Luis Enrique is prepared to give the 17-year-old game time this season.
Fede Cartabia (Valencia)
Argentinian by birth, this attacking midfielder has been at Valencia since 2006, but only recently—since Miroslav Djukic's appointment—has he broke into the first team.
One goal, three assists and a string of fine performances have lined an impressive start for Suso at Almeria. This loan spell may give him the hunger to return to his homeland for good.
Crazy hair, balance like Bambi and a lot of pace; Thievy has already produced some electric moments off the bench for Espanyol this season. He's still raw, but has bags of potential.
Alvaro Vadillo (Real Betis)
The young wide man has drawn comparisons with Cristiano Ronaldo. However, while he no doubt owns a copious amount of talent, it's far too early to make those assumptions.
Ruben Pardo (Real Sociedad)
Sometimes brilliant, sometimes frustrating, always skinny. Ruben Pardo's ability on the ball belies his years at times. Now he needs to strive for consistency and add some bulk.
Iker Muniain (Athletic Club Bilbao)
It's easy to forget he's still only 20 given he's made over 150 appearances for Athletic Club. Exceptional in the club's Europa League campaign two seasons ago, he's struggled for consistency since.
Oliver Torres (Atletico Madrid)
Oliver Torres made his debut for Atletico Madrid's first team back in August 2012 when he was just 17 years old.
Now 18, the creative, technically brilliant midfielder is a regular fixture around Los Rojiblancos' squad. He's yet to make himself a regular in Diego Simeone's starting lineup, though.
In the recent Champions League win in Porto, he did make his Champions League debut, while he's recently made the step up to the Spain U-21 setup as well.
More Barcelona than Atleti in style, Torres is one of Spain's most exciting young players.
Gerard Deulofeu (Barcelona)
The words "Gerard" and "Deulofeu" have long been on the lips of people closely tied to Barcelona football club.
A pacy, direct player, who can operate as a winger or a forward, Deulofeu made his first-team debut for the Catalans in a 5-0 win over Mallorca in October 2012.
He spent most of that season impressing for the B side, though, leading to a loan move to the Premier League with Everton this summer.
The hope is he'll return to Camp Nou next year to press for a first-team place. The concern is they end up with another Bojan on their hands.
Alvaro Morata (Real Madrid)
Alvaro Morata came off the bench to score Real Madrid's equaliser in their win over Levante at the weekend.
Like club legend Raul, the 20-year-old began his youth career at Atletico Madrid before ending up on the white side of the city, via Getafe, in 2008.
His first-team bow for Los Blancos arrived in 2010, and his record of nine goals in seven appearances for Spain's U-21 side suggests he's ready to crank up the pressure on Karim Benzema in the battle for the No. 9 spot in Carlo Ancelotti's team.
Madrid fans certainly think so.
Antoine Griezmann (Real Sociedad)
We're waiting for the explosion.
When it comes to Antoine Griezmann, you only have to see some of his moments of brilliance—like this golazo against Lyon in the Champions League qualifiers—to know that it could happen at any moment.
The Frenchman has been at Real Sociedad since 2005 and has made over 150 appearances for the San Sebastian side.
Still only 22, he's one exceptional season away from a big-money move.
Jairo Samperio (Sevilla)
Devout followers of Spanish football will have spotted Jairo Samperio as one of the live-wires in a disappointing season for Racing Santander in La Segunda last year.
He picked the ball up in his own half, raced into the penalty area and set up a tap in for Carlos Bacca.
Only 20, Sevilla signed him in the summer and the 5'7" rapid winger could prove the perfect replacement for Jesus Navas in time.
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