The premier competition have a few bright stars who are showcasing their potential week-in-week-out.
The ongoing 2019-20 season in LaLiga has been nothing short of spectacular, with both Real Madrid and Barcelona engaged in a neck-to-neck battle for winning the trophy. With two more Matchdays remaining for all teams, Los Blancos (83 points) currently lead the title race, with a four-point lead over the Catalans. Over the past many weeks, LaLiga has also stood out among the various football leagues in Europe, due to the presence of several youngsters who have flourished whenever they were given the opportunity to perform on the biggest stage.
Some of them have gone on to become mainstays in their corresponding clubs, also racking up respectable minutes in the UEFA Champions League and Europa League among other competitions.
That said, we a look at five of the best five young midfielders in LaLiga. Read on!
5. Oihan Sancet (Athletic Bilbao)
Athletic Bilbao’s Oihan Sancet may only be 20 years old, but the youngster from Pamplona in Spain has already become one of Los Leones boss Gaizka Garitano’s first choices on the team sheet.
Sancet began his career as a youth player for Osasuna, before joining Bilbao’s youth team in 2015. he then rose through the ranks at the club and finally earned his move to the senior team at the beginning of the 2018-19 season. In the ongoing season, he has recorded seven goals and two assists from 32 appearances across all competitions. In the international stage, he has scored for Spain’s U-18 side and has recently started playing for the U-21 team – meaning a potential first-team call up could occur in the next season or two.
The youngster has a proven goal-scoring record at the youth levels, and given his age, he is arguably well on his way to establishing himself as one of the rising stars of LaLiga.
4. Oscar Rodriguez (CD Leganes)
22-year-old Oscar Rodriguez currently features for CD Leganes as a loan signing, but he is originally a Real Madrid player. The Spaniard joined Los Blancos as a youth player, before gaining promotion to their U-18 and U-19 sides and finally their B team in 2017.
He went on to make his debut for Real Madrid’s first team in a Copa del Rey fixture in the same season, but the presence of some superstar players hindered his development at the club. Shortly after, he was loaned off to Leganes. In the 2019-20 season, Rodriguez has scored nine goals along with registering two assists in 29 appearances across all competitions for Los Pepineros. He has also featured for Spain’s U-16, U-17 and U-19 sides and is currently one of their U-21 players.
Primarily an attacking midfielder by trade, the youngster can also play as a left or right wing or as a central midfielder, as proved by himself during the course of the ongoing season.
3. Riqui Puig (Barcelona)
There will only be a very few FC Barcelona supporters who haven’t heard of Riqui Puig yet. Born in Matadepera in Spain, Puig joined Barca’s famed youth academy La Masia in 2013, before progressing through the club’s U-16, U-18 and U-19 teams to finally sign up for the B team who plays in the Segunda division.
Today, the 20-year-old is one of the first names on the Barcelona B team sheet, and has also made as many as 13 appearances for the Lionel Messi-led first team. In the ongoing season, he has made 31 appearances across all competitions, netting twice and assisting thrice. He has also featured in the Blaugrana‘s Champions League squads of late, although he is yet to make a debut in Europe’s premium footballing competition.
The Spanish U-21 star is by default a central midfielder. Yet, he is quite versatile as well, having featured as a winger and an attacking midfielder multiple times this season.
2. Martin Odegaard (Real Sociedad)
Real Madrid loanee Martin Odegaard currently features for Real Sociedad, although he is set to return to his parent club later this month. Regarded as one of the hottest young prospects in world football at the moment, the 21-year-old is being scouted actively by various clubs, not only in Spain but also in the rest of Europe as well.
The attacking midfielder has made 35 appearances so far in the 2019-20 season, and has also recorded seven goals and nine assists. Having spent a couple of seasons on loan at Dutch clubs Heerenveen and Vitesse, he also has proved his ability to create an impact at other leagues in the continent.
Odegaard was only 15 years old when he made his debut for the Norwegian national team. Six years down the line, he is a regular starter for them and has already registered 22 international caps. Recently, Sociedad president Jokin Aperribay revealed that the club hope to hold on to him for the second year of his deal with them, although a final decision is yet to be made.
1. Federico Valverde (Real Madrid)
Along with Martin Odegaard, Federico Valverde is yet another example that proves how LaLiga can serve as a good platform for foriegn youngsters. The Uruguayan international joined Real Madrid’s B team in 2017 and there has been no looking back for him ever since.
In the ongoing 2019-20 season, Valverde has notched 41 appearances across all competitions including 31 in LaLiga and five in the Champions League. It proves how well he is trusted by manager Zinedine Zidane despite having a host of midfield options at his disposal including Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Casemiro, Isco, James Rodriguez, Brahim Diaz, Reinier, Marco Asensio and Eden Hazard.
One of his most impressive performances came against Barcelona in the LaLiga El Clasico on December 19, where he bossed the midfield against the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Antoine Griezmann, Ivan Rakitic, Arturo Vidal, Ansu Fati and Frenkie de Jong.
After playing for Uruguay’s U-17 and U-20 sides, Valverde made his senior debut for the national team in 2017. Since then he has registered 20 international caps, also scoring two goals till date.