The league that made Lionel Messi, is no stranger to shaping the careers of young talents. Indeed, La Liga may consist of some of the biggest teams in world football, it is also a launching pad for several top youngsters. Spain has had wonderful talents come through its ranks over the years. There are unbelievable talents that are already a force within Europe. These include players such as Pedri and Gavi, who we all know are competing in the biggest competitions. However, today we will focus on the top 3 talents who might not be as well-known but still have the potential to compete on the highest level.
The 19-year-old left-back is one of the brightest lights in Barcelona’s youth. Balde joined the club in 2011 from Espanyol, before making his senior debut last year.
The 19-year-old has burst through the ranks at the Spanish team, establishing himself as Xavi Hernandez's first-choice left-back, ahead of experienced campaigners like Jordi Alba.
The teen has even made it into the Spanish national team, impressing with his performances on the international stage.
The young left back maybe in trait, a defender but the main qualities that he possesses are in an attacking sense. Similar playing style to Jordi Alba, he loves to go forward and add to the attacking style that Barcelona craves. His pace and quick thinking are why many in Spain are raving about his talent. He has great awareness and his ability to quickly accelerate through the opposition in a team that struggles to recover after a few poor decisions by the club looked to be more affected by the young player’s zeal.
Balde has the strength to advance inside the club thanks to La Masia’s philosophy. Barcelona’s playing style likewise emphasises possession of the ball and defending counterattacks aggressively. Barcelona's main weakness over the past few years is due to their failure to defend against counterattacks.
Due to his ability to cover ground quickly and deny the player time to turn, he has begun backing the opponent rather than being in a jockey position. His best defensive abilities show when he presses well.
The Japanese youngster was once tipped as the “Japanese Messi” This is a compliment although, he has struggled to live up to his exceptionally high expectations. Kubo signed for Sociedad after failing to make a single senior appearance for Real Madrid. While at Madrid he was consistently loaned out and he never really found his feet to succeed.
With him previously struggling to impress at Mallorca, Villarreal and Getafe on loan, Real Madrid had been content to keep him on the books before his moderate €6.5 million ($7 million) switch to San Sebastián. This may look like a mistake by Real Madrid however, it is rumoured they have a clause that if Sociedad sold Kubo for over €4 million ($4.5 million) this summer, Real would recoup 50% of the transfer.
Though he often lacks the numbers to complement his skills, since his move to Real Sociedad he has seen his best career return where he has notched seven goals and five assists in 27 league games this campaign. The Japanese international is arguably the standout name in Spain when looking outside the top 3 elite clubs.
Kubo’s main quality is his quick movement on the ball, he is very quick and agile, so he can glide around defenders. As previously stated, he has been compared to the great Lionel Messi with his similar size and playing style. He is having brilliant close ball control and dribbling which makes it incredibly hard for the opposition to intercept the ball from him.
Kubo stated “I always want to aim at the top. I am most looking forward to what I will do in the future myself and intend to spare no effort for that." He has the talent and the mentality to reach the very top.
It is great to see such a talent finally find his feet, the saga with Real Madrid and Kubo is far from over. Don’t be surprised if Kubo is playing with the Galacticos in the future.
One of the most exciting players on this list and in La Liga, Nico Williams made a sizeable impression in 2021-22. Their Basque-only policy is one-of-a-kind, which has led to talent coming through. Bilbao has benefitted massively from selling these players after developing them; their next talent is Nico Williams.
The current team is filled with fan favourites, led by the ever-present Inaki Williams. Inaki has had a brilliant career and longevity, he has played almost 200 consecutive matches, and over 300 in total. Now Nico, his younger brother will hope to follow a similar path. He is a huge talent who is wanted by major clubs across Europe. The young star has already represented Spain, unlike his older brother who switched his allegiance to Ghana.
Nico Williams moved up to the reserve team in May 2020, before making his senior team debut in April 2021. Williams would become a key part of the side during the 2021-22 season, as Bilbao reached the Copa del Rey final.
When focusing on the young Spanish winger, Nico causes a lot of trouble down the right flank, Williams ran defenders ragged alongside regularly getting into dangerous positions. As Nico is still young, he has room to improve, which includes his finishing and decisive passing. He can produce a moment of magic; however, consistency is the key if he wants to compete on the highest level.
Nico Williams plays on the right side of the midfield. He averaged 7.81 progressive carries and had 5.92 touchers in the opponent’s penalty area. That placed him in the top 81st and 87th percentile of players across Europe. Moreover, Williams completed 2.76 dribbles per 90 for the 92nd percentile. Therefore, defenders have a tough time stopping the star boy.