8 Teenage La Liga Talents Ready to Step Up in 2014

Samuel MarsdenFeatured ColumnistJanuary 7, 2014

GETAFE, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 26:  Santi Mina of RC Celta de Vigo controls the ball during the La Liga match between Getafe CF and RC Celta de Vigo at Coliseum Alfonso Perez on September 26, 2013 in Getafe, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Who are going to be the kids that run into such great form in 2014 that their managers end up slapping unrealistic price tags on their heads?

Given the reliance of some Spanish clubs on their cantera, there could be quite a few emerging from La Liga.

Unfortunately for prestigious talents like Jean Marie Dongou and Adama Traore at Barcelona and Jose Rodriguez at Real Madrid, progress into their respective first teams is likely to be hard to come by.

However that isn’t the case at every club, and there are some talented teenagers across the Primera Division hoping for a big year.

BILBAO, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 16:  Augusto Fernandez (L) of RC Celta de Vigo duels for the ball with Aymeric Laporte of Athletic Club during the La Liga match between Athletic Club and RC Celta de Vigo at San Mames Stadium on September 16, 2013 in Bilbao, Spa
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Aymeric Laporte (Athletic Club Bilbao)
Most people have heard about Aymeric Laporte by now. The 19-year-old is already a regular in the Athletic side, be it on the left or in the middle of defence, and is almost certain to have a big year in 2014.

Oliver Torres (Atletico Madrid)
Everyone has been waiting for Oliver Torres to break onto the scene for what seems like years, and it appears the talented midfielder has at last earned the stage to do just that from his manager Diego Simeone.

Excellent ball skills, superb passing and an ability to coast into space, it’s no wonder David Villa talks about "the huge future” ahead of Oliver. However, Villa is also right when he says that Atleti “don't have to rush him” (h/t Sky Sports).

Javier Manquillo (Atletico Madrid)
Developing alongside Oliver at Atleti is Javier Manquillo, 19. He’s a right-back with huge levels of athleticism, the ability to get forward and a strong tackle—Manquillo is already providing able competition to Juanfran.

Uruguayan defender Jose Gimenez is another impressive Atleti teenager.

Santi Mina (Celta Vigo)
Over in Galicia, Luis Enrique is working with a particularly young squad. Central defender David Costas, 18, has featured on a regular basis this season and Jonny, 19, is an impressive full-back. However it’s 18-year-old striker Santi Mina who has the most eyes cast upon him.

Enrique described him as a “rough diamond” after he scored the winner against Athletic Bilbao in a Copa del Rey tie (h/t football-espana), while Spanish football writer and scout David Cartlidge labeled him “one of the most outstanding young players in Spain, an outright striker.”

Jose Garcia (Osasuna)
The youngest player to feature on this list, Jose Garcia is just 16 years old. He made his debut this season in a La Liga match against Almeria, however the young midfielder had already achieved fame years earlier when he became a child-hooligan Youtube sensation.

Saul Niguez (Rayo Vallecano/Atletico Madrid)
All the talk at Atletico Madrid focuses on the exciting Oliver Torres, but don’t be surprised it Saul Niguez develops into a player equally as impressive.

The 19-year-old is spending the current season on loan at Rayo Vallecano and has produced mature performance after mature performance. The midfielder’s progression could end up being similar to that of Koke, who was never widely heralded outside of Atleti until recently.

Alvaro Vadillo (Real Betis)
Linked with Arsenal and Tottenham by The Mirror in the summer, Real Betis’ winger Alvaro Vadillo has drawn direct comparisons with Cristiano Ronaldo in the past.

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 20: Pepe (R) of Real Madrid CF competes for the ball with Alvaro Vadillo (L) of Real Betis Balompie during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Real Betis Balompie at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on April 20, 2013 in Madrid, Spa
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It’s not hard to see why: The 19-year-old has pace, an imposing figure and extremely impressive footwork on the ball—however he’s going to have to go some way to match the Portuguese forward's end product.

Moi Gomez (Villarreal)
Villarreal’s return to La Liga has been based on a refreshed squad which has been reinvigorated after the Champions League years. And what’s even more encouraging for the Yellow Submarine is that there remain more youngsters waiting for their chance.

Moi Gomez, 19, started his first game of the season in Villarreal's first game of 2014—a 5-2 win over Rayo Vallecano—and the Spain under-19 midfielder was on hand to set up two goals. It was the perfect start to what could be a big year for Gomez.

Defensive midfielder and defender Pablo Iniguez, 19, is another exciting prospect emerging at El Madrigal.