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10 La Liga youngsters you need to keep tabs on this season

1) Marco Asensio (Espanyol, on loan from Real Madrid, 19)

His goals, form and evident talent during the U19 European Championship with Spain have led to the Real Madrid-owned forward becoming one of the most highly anticipated top-flight debutants of this campaign. Racking up eight goals with La Rojita, Asensio is among good company in Spain's youth goalscoring charts, alongside the likes of Juan Mata, Alvaro Morata and Isco.

Even the striker he will bid to replace at current club Espanyol, Sergio Garcia, netted one fewer in his earlier years. Plenty is expected of the Palma-born youngster, who could be the star of a new generation.

2) Alen Halilovic (Sporting Gijon, on loan from Barcelona, 19)

Barcelona’s loan terms for their young gem tell you everything that you need to know about Halilovic’s potential. The league champions have demanded the young Croatian play a minimum of 60% of this campaign’s minutes for Gijon, with Los Guajes set to benefit. Diminutive and creative with the nous to play centrally or drifting inwards from out wide, boss Abelardo will be hoping the former Dinamo Zagreb youngster will add inspiration and creativity to Sporting’s armoury. After spending two seasons in Spain and picking up the language, as well as working with a coach who puts faith in young players, Halilovic should have a solid foundation to explode later down the line. 

ARCHIVE Caution, greed, or a job at Arsenal? What stopped Halilovic's move to Spurs?

3) Nahuel (Villarreal, 18)

The Yellow Submarine suffered several key departures this summer, but Samu Castillejo and Samuel Garcia's arrivals from Malaga have swelled Marcelino’s wide options. Off the back of team-mates’ injuries and solid pre-season form, however, Nahuel was Villarreal’s offensive protagonist on the opening weekend of the season against Real Betis, and started again against Espanyol last weekend. With a useful change of pace, as well as the technical ability to make things happen when piecing together passages of play, the youngster is already building on his fleeting inclusions of the last campaign.

4) Oliver Torres (Atletico Madrid, 20)

Porto have long been known as a club with the potential to catapult players to stardom, but Torres was showing signs of true talent before spending a year on loan with former mentor Julen Lopetegui's first-team squad. Now the young Spaniard is ready to pull on the red and white of Atletico with conviction and belief that he is capable of shouldering the responsibility. For the coming campaign, Oliver is likely to be used in wider midfield areas, with his vision and technical ability compensating for his diminutive frame.

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.

8) Dani Ceballos (Real Betis, 19)

An appearance from the bench upon Betis’ return to La Liga has ensured this young midfielder’s release clause has soared to €12m, but such a price won’t be enough to dissuade potential suitors. Over 30 appearances for his current club at second-tier level have already given him pedigree, after featuring out wide, in behind the striker and as a central midfielder. Ceballos only has one year of his current contract remaining, but the youngster doesn't intend to leave anytime soon. "I want to continue at Betis and enjoy these fans for many years," he told AS. "They trust me because I have never failed them. I have always given everything for this shirt and I only think about returning all of the affection that I have received from the Beticos."

Betis president Eduardo Macia has denied any approach from Real Madrid, although Spain have already enjoyed international youth success where Ceballos linked up well with Los Blancos’ Marco Asensio, which could be a fruitful relationship for the future. Both Arsenal and Liverpool were also linked this summer.

9) Yeray (Athletic Bilbao, 20)

Described by Athletic coach Cuco Ziganda as a “diamond with a few bits to polish,” Yeray could be a ready-made central defensive replacement should Aymeric Laporte’s excellent performances lead him to pastures new. As Mikel San Jose and ageing club captain Carlos Gurpegui have been more regularly deployed in defensive midfield under Ernesto Valverde, Xabier Etxeita is the only man who stands between Yeray and some regular football either in either the Copa del Rey or the league – especially if Athletic have to stretch their resources along a lengthy Europa League run.

10) Jesus Vallejo (Zaragoza, on loan from Real Madrid, 18)

After captaining Spain’s U19s to European Championship glory, Vallejo rapidly became hot property. Real Madrid moved quickly to sign the central defender to a long-term contract for a €5m fee, before loaning him back to former employers Zaragoza (in the second tier, so we're cheating a bit). The defender has already spoken maturely on the topic of his future, assuring that he won’t be getting ahead of himself despite taking the captain’s armband at the age of 18 and being selected in the Segunda’s team of the season.

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