When it comes to young, aspirational Spanish players, a certain few make the conversation every time.
Under their guiding light Xavi, teenagers Ansu Fati, Gavi and Nico González play regularly and are part of the furniture at Barcelona. As for Real Madrid, fanatics will know about Antonio Blanco and Miguel Gutierrez, despite their lack of match action in La Liga.
All these names have potentially bright futures, but others outside the popular purview are catching the attention of clubs and supporters and at a young age. There is no guarantee that 2022 will see a bouncing, high-figure transfer market. Nevertheless, the following names are ready to progress from the periphery to the center circle. If they do, their value could rise steadily.
Flying full-back Pedro Porro is unique for two main reasons and therefore has to be included in this selection.
Unlike many compatriots, he was bold enough to leave Spanish club soccer, where he could have become just any other player. The result has been a fine spell at Portuguese Champions League quarter-finalists Sporting Lisbon. He has been able to stand out in a top division that does not receive the same eagle-eye focus as La Liga, nor the Premier League, Bundesliga, Serie A or Ligue 1.
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Not only that, the 22-year-old has made the wing-back position his own, storming up and down the field. His big test will arrive in the Champions League knockout stage, an ominous task against the might of Manchester City. If he shines in the green and white, though, it will place him firmly in the shop window, much like Bruno Fernandes before his move to England.
In the central areas, Basque-born Martín Zubimendi has featured regularly for Real Sociedad this campaign and does not look out of place in one of La Liga’s better teams.
Since its blistering start, Sociedad’s momentum has slowed considerably. At its best, it can cause problems for any team, though, and Zubimendi has been entrusted—sometimes as the sole body in defensive midfield—to steady the side. Zubimendi is no stranger to elite soccer and has international experience after traveling with Spain to the last Olympic tournament in Japan.
Valencia defender Hugo Guillamón is similar to Zubimendi and can also play in central defense. Yet given the Sociedad’s concession of fewer goals this term, as well as the progress made by teammates Mikel Oyarzabal and Ander Barranetxea, Sociedad seems the best place for Zubimendi at the moment. There, his status will only increase from this point onwards.
In 23-year-old Javi Puado, Espanyol has a gem in its forward line. He is one of the reasons why relegation appears unlikely for the promoted team, which comfortably places in mid-table.
Physically, the attacking midfielder is built perfectly for elite soccer, but his intelligence to drift across the front line sets him apart from others in his position. Often starting on the flank, Puado is dangerous as an auxiliary striker too, where he links Raúl de Tomás, another recently capped Spain international.
Assuming he continues his rise, other teams will be interested in Puado, whose break came with Real Zaragoza before Espanyol called. After saying 2021 was his best soccer year to date (Spanish), there is no reason why 2022 cannot be even better. Despite beginning his journey in Catalunya, he is the type of player title favorite Real Madrid would love to have one day.