10 La Liga youngsters you need to keep tabs on this season
5) Santi Mina (Valencia, 19)
Four goals against Rayo Vallecano at the tail end of last season roused interest in Celta Vigo’s former talent, with the club’s criminally low release clauses leading to Los Che grabbing themselves a €10 million bargain. The Spaniard mainly operated on the right-hand side of a front three under Eduardo Berizzo, but has youth experience as a central striker. Mina undoubtedly has an eye for goal, but should also bring the attitude and spirit to adjust to life at the Mestalla seamlessly. Conducting yourself in a committed and fastidious manner is a prerequisite in Nuno’s dressing room, which shouldn’t be a sticking point for young Santi.
6) Ruben Duarte (Espanyol, 19)
To give an idea of how Ruben Duarte’s debut season in La Liga played out, Vicente del Bosque has already taken a closer look at him during Spain’s training camps. The young Espanyol defender has been tied down to a lengthy contract this summer, after bursting onto the scene in his first season of top-flight football.
An extremely tidy and impressive left-back by trade, Duarte will be a guaranteed first-choice starter this time around, with his composed nature and tidiness in possession clearly something which could be utilised at international level. If Duarte continues along the same trajectory, his current employers might struggle to hold on to him given their current financial state.
7) Lucas Hernandez (Atletico Madrid, 19)
Stefan Savic may have traipsed into the Vicente Calderon during the summer, but Diego Simeone knows he has another defensive talent waiting in the wings. Capable of playing at left-back but also at the heart of the defence, Marseille-born Lucas could be a long-term replacement for captain Diego Godin. After impressing during fleeting opportunities last season, a string of good performances during Atleti’s pre-season fixtures ensured that the Frenchman will stay with the first-team group permanently. Athletically he should have no problem, with the France U19 international willing and able to battle for every ball as Simeone desires.