The new La Liga season is about to start (although it seems that it might be delayed due to a player strike) and promises to be more exciting than ever. It’s fair to say that most of the world’s best players ply their trade in Spain, even if mostly at two clubs (Barcelona and Real Madrid). We’re all familiar with the world class talents of Lionel Messi, Andrés Iniesta, Cristiano Ronaldo and co., but there are many not so high profile players who look set to impress in this season’s La Liga.
We take a look at seven of those players, who are bound to shine in the upcoming La Liga season.
Ander Herrera (22 years old, Athletic Bilbao)
Ander Herrera is one of the most promising talents of a generation of Spanish players that has swept every youth trophy available. The Basque midfielder was one of the best players in the Under 21 European Championship, recently won by Spain.
After two seasons at Zaragoza, Herrera was signed by Athletic Bilbao for 7.5 million and he will be given a great platform to shine at San Mamés. His passing and vision is reminiscent of the great Spanish midfielders of this generation (Xavi Hernandez, Andrés Iniesta, Xabi Alonso) and it will be interesting to see what kind of impact he can have in the league so early in his career. Herrera might very well be one of the world’s best midfielders in a few years time.
Pablo Piatti (22 years old, Valencia CF)
Pablo Piatti was once touted as the “New Messi”. While that was a clear exaggeration, the Argentine’s talent is undeniable. He was the only bright spark last season for Almeria, and this season he’ll get to display his talents in one of Spain’s best teams.
Piatti’s pace and trickery make him one of the most fearsome wingers in the league and this might very well be the season where he establishes himself as a top quality player. You can fully expect Piatti to be one of the best players in La Liga this season.
Sergio Canales (20 years old, Valencia CF)
Pablo Piatti isn’t the only exciting young player Valencia got this summer. In fact, there are even higher expectations for Sergio Canales, regarded by many as the future of Spanish football. Valencia got Canales in a two year loan from Real Madrid (with a 12 million purchase option), in what might turn out to be one of the smartest acquisitions of the summer in Spain.
Sergio Canales and Ever Banega might potentially form one of the best and most creative midfield duos in the world. With the additions of Piatti and Canales to an already strong core, Valencia can realistically claim to be one of Europe’s strongest teams at the moment.
Arda Turan (24 years old, Atlético Madrid)
Three years ago, Arda Turan was ranked as the 8th best young player in the world by Don Balón. He did have some very good seasons at Galatasaray, but now it’s finally time to prove himself in a big league. The Turkish winger was brought as a replacement for Kun Aguero (at least one of the replacements, since Atlético are rumored to be on the verge of signing Radamel Falcao), and those are some pretty big boots to fill.
It will be interesting to see if Turan can match the high expectations and help Atlético qualify to Europe.
Nuri Sahin (22 years old, Real Madrid CF)
After getting Mezut Ozil for 10 million last summer, Nuri Sahin might very well turn to be another great bargain for Real Madrid. The Turkish midfielder led Borussia Dortmund to the German title last season and was selected as the best player in the Bundesliga.
It remains to be seen whether Sahin will be a regular starter in a Real Madrid midfield already packed with world class talent, but he will surely play an important role this season. He looks set to one day take over Xabi Alonso’s role at Real Madrid.
Thiago Alcantara (20 years old, FC Barcelona)
Thiago Alcantara is La Masia’s latest golden boy. The 20-year-old is arguably the best young (under 21) player in the world at the moment and looks set to be one of the world’s very best players in a few years. Alcantara would surely start for most teams in the world, but Barcelona aren’t most teams. The presence of the much more seasoned Xavi Hernandez, Andrés Iniesta and even Cesc Fabregas means that Alcantara’s won’t have as big a role as he would elsewhere. Just like Xavi and Iniesta before, he’ll slowly be integrated into the team and develop naturally.
Still, he should get enough chances to display all his skill and talent this season in La Liga.
Cesc Fabregas (24 years old, FC Barcelona)
There’s not much left to be said here. The entire football world (except maybe Arsenal fans) has been waiting for this moment for about two years. Cesc Fabregas has finally returned to his boyhood club and will finally get a chance to showcase his talents in the fields of La Liga.
A player of Fabregas’ class would be a guaranteed starter in any other team in the world, but he looks doomed to be a rotation player at Barcelona (at least for the time being) with Busquets, Xavi and Iniesta ahead of him in the pecking order. Still, it’s a long season and Pep Guardiola will surely rotate a lot, meaning that Fabregas will get plenty of opportunities to shine. Everyone will be curious to find out if the prodigal son will shine now that he’s home again.