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THE SPANISH ARMADA! – Introducing Spain’s next generation Part III | El Centrocampista
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El Centrocampista

THE SPANISH ARMADA! – Introducing Spain’s next generation Part III

By Sam Hughes

Despite being the only Spanish national side not to win their respective tournament during the summer, the Spanish Under 20 squad were still one of the most entertaining and talented teams to watch before their quarter-final exit to Brazil on penalties.

After looking at the under 21 and the under 19 group of players in previous articles, will proudly present the final part of the trilogy with a look at Julen Lopetegui’s side

Expect many of these precociously talented youngsters to make the breakthrough for their clubs and senior national side during the next few years.


GOALKEEPERS:

Alex Sanchez

The young Zaragoza goalkeeper is third-choice in the squad but does have considerable talent.  Coming from the famed La Masia, he is similar in style to Victor Valdes.  Athletically strong, comfortable on the ball with quick reflexes.  Barcelona have made sure there is a buy-back clause should he fulfil his potential.  Came on for 45 minutes in the game against Australia and repaid the manager’s faith in him with three fine saves.

Aitor Fernandez

Aitor Fernandez makes a fine save against Costa Rica

Seen as the first-choice goalkeeper of the squad.  Airtor is a promising talent who currently plays his football for Athletic Bilbao B.  He is assured and possesses all the attributes a goalkeeper needs.  He will need to work hard to push onto the next level and, hopefully, for a place in Bilbao’s first team.  Unfortunately, Airtor injured his elbow in training before the Australia and has been replaced by Fernando Pacheco for the past two matches.

Fernando Pachecho

The 19 year old reserve goalkeeper joined Real Madrid’s academy in 2006 and has since risen through the ranks steadily.  He is a solid performer with quick reflexes that make one-on-ones somewhat of a speciality.  He will be using the injury of Aitor as a chance to stake his claim as the first-choice for Spanish youth teams, with an eye on making a break into the first team at club level.

 

DEFENDERS:

Hugo Mallo

The Celta Vigo star is one of the most impressive young players in the Segunda division.  He possesses lightening pace, and is a very attack-minded right-wing back in the mould of Dani Alves.  He has technical ability in abundance, which he combines with great intelligence and defensive awareness.  He has been interesting clubs across Europe including; Juventus, Chelsea , Valencia and Atletico Madrid.  He could well be Spain’s right back of the future.

Marc Bartra

The young defender from Barcelona captained the side in the tournament, showing that he has leadership abilities to go along with his footballing potential.  He is very much a complete centre half with superb positional sense and great speed.  He has represented Spain at every age level so far, and also made his debut for Barcelona.  He will be expecting to push for a first-team place once Puyol retires.

Jorge Pulido

Pulido is one of the brightest prospects at Atletico Madrid.  The youngster is a natural defender with exceptional awareness.  His performances for the B team have earned him a couple of appearances in the first team, with plenty more expected in the future.  He was reportedly tracked by Barcelona before signing a long-term deal at the Vicente Calderon.

Carles Planas

Planas is a hard-working, pacy left back who can be very effective down the flank.  He has been at Barcelona since 2001, and will be looking to hopefully break into the side considering it is the only position at the club that isn’t filled permanently by a world-class superstar.  His progress has been halted somewhat by injuries but he is now fit and ready to push on once more.

Jordi Amat

At just 19 years old, Amat has enjoyed a meteoric rise to Espanyol’s first team, in which he has become a permanent fixture.  He possesses unrivalled experience, having played at all age levels for Spain.  A solid, battling, determined centre half with great poise – he is a future captain of Espanyol and, quite possibly, the national team itself.

 

MIDFIELDERS:

Oriol Romeu

One of the most promising young midfielders in world football.  Romeu left Barcelona this summer for Chelsea in a €5 million deal.  An intelligent footballer with boundless technical ability and superb positional awareness, he is able to control games despite being just 19 years old.  He usually plays the deep-lying role, and is able to handle the physical side due to his size and power.  His potential has made sure Barcelona have included a buy-back clause in the deal.  Expect him back at the Nou Camp within two years.

Kiko Femenia

The talented right-winger made a dream move to Barcelona in the summer after an impressive run in the side at Hercules.  His rise to prominence is all the more surprising considering his debut in the top division ended in him being taken off after an anxiety attack.  A quick winger with superior dribbling ability, he is expected to shine in at Barcelona B this season.

José Luis García del Pozo ‘Recio’

A product of Malaga’s youth system, the centre midfielder has impressed since breaking into the team in 2010.  An efficient and accurate user of the ball, some of his performances have been way beyond his years.  He is contracted to Malaga until 2015 and has a fight on his hands for a first team place after the sudden influx of money and new signings at the Andalusian club.

Sergio Canales

Perhaps the most gifted player in the squad.  A traditional ‘No. 10’ with vision, versatility, a sweet left foot, and the ability to change games in an instant.  He excelled as a youngster in Racing Santander’s side before making a big move to Real Madrid.  Unfortunately, he found his route to the first team blocked by various superstars and, this summer, made an exciting loan-to-buy move to Valencia.  He is expected to rediscover form with consistent football at the Mestalla, and reaffirm his status as one of Spain’s most precocious talents.

Daniel Pachecho

Sergi Roberto and Daniel Pacheco celebrate another fantastic goal for the young Spanish.

Despite being only 20 years old, the attacking midfielder is much travelled having started at Malaga before joining Barcelona, then Liverpool with a loan deal at Norwich.  He joined Atletico Madrid this summer on loan, and has now subsequently been loaned out again to Ray Vallecano.  His can also add playing for Spain at every age level, too.   Full of skill, he weaves his magic between the lines of midfield and attack.  Atletico have an option to buy at the end of the season, so expect a move back to Spain should he impress at Teresa Rivero.

Jorge Resurrección Merodio ‘Koke’

A product of Atletico Madrid’s youth system, he is rated as one of their best prospects in years.  A central midfielder by trade, he is versatile and gifted enough to also play out wide.  Technically superior, disciplined and creative, he will be looking to cement a place in the first team following the exit of the club’s top players this summer.

Sergi Roberto

The highly rated youngster from Barcelona is considered the natural successor to former Barcelona player and coach Luis Enrique.  High praise, indeed, but his technique, physique, pace and passing are outstanding, and very much in a similar mould to the Barcelona legend.  Naturally an attacking midfielder, Roberto can also play wide and as a striker.  Expected to continue for Barcelona B this season with the first team surely a possibility in the next year or two.

 

FORWARDS:

Rodrigo Moreno

The Brazilian-born striker is currently plying his trade at Benfica, who he joined from Real Madrid in the deal that took Angel Di Maria to the Bernabeu.  A quick, strong forward with an ability to find the back of the net, he is yet to tie down a first team place in his career which has stopped him from progressing as he should have.  His loan at Bolton Wanderers last season was unspectacular, but he is now back in Portugal to fight for his place at Benfica.  Real Madrid still have the option to re-sign him for €12 million over the next two years showing that potential is there to step up.

Isco Alarcon

The Valencia youngster is seen by many as the natural replacement for departed star David Silva.  He certainly shares similar traits with quick feet, intelligence and an eye for a defence-splitting pass.  He plays in behind the striker and out wide, using his technical ability to create goals between the lines.  With Juan Mata now gone, Isco will be looking to make an impact in the first team alongside Sergio Canales.

Cristian Tello

Alvaro Vazquez is on target during the U20 World Cup

The Catalonian currently plays for Barcelona B after joining the club back in 2002.  He is a quick, dynamic striker with an ability to ghost past players in one-on-one situations.  His skill and dribbling ability allows him to play an effective role out wide, too.  He has surprising intelligence on and off the ball for a striker, and often uses it to make telling passes and runs.  Expected to continue for Barcelona B this season.

Ezequiel Calvente

Real Betis’ young left winger is an exciting prospect despite already making 29 appearances for the first team.  Full of pace, dribbling ability and flair, he is direct and often the one player that makes things happen out of nowhere.  He shot to fame in Spain after scoring an outrageous ‘switch-hit’ penalty against Italy in which he feigned a shot with his right foot before slotting it home with his left.  It was described by The Guardian as being “on an altogether higher plane of spot-kick audacity”  It was a surprise to everyone, apart from those at Betis who know exactly what their young star is capable of.

Alvaro Vazquez

Coming from the ever-productive Espanyol youth system, Vazquez is considered to be one of the brightest prospects they have produced in recent years.  He has already made 30 appearances for his hometown club at age 20, and is expected to make many more over the coming years.  Strong and agile, he is a similar to David Villa in terms of his predatory instincts.  He possesses explosive pace and impressive technique on the ball which he uses to burst past defences and start attacks himself.  With a deadly finishing touch and awareness in the box, he is expected to fill the void left by Pablo Osvaldo, and become Espanyol’s main man.




3 Comments

  1. Heath Chesters

    3 September, 2011 at 18:45

    I’d have any of those players at Granada CF!!

    Closest they came during the summer was a rumoured move for Hugo Mallo… but nothing came of it in the end.

  2. Jafar

    3 September, 2011 at 23:16

    Isco moved to Malaga he isn’t a Valencia player any more, that’s the main reason Valencia brought Sergio Canales.

  3. Sam Hughes

    4 September, 2011 at 18:08

    Apologies! I’ve literally no idea how I managed to forget that he’d moved on to Malaga this summer.

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