Rodri, Maxi Gomez, Dani Ceballos, Junior Firpo, Vinicius Junior, Carles Alena, and Carles Soler were just some of the youngsters tipped for greatness in La Liga in the past couple of years.
While some players managed to get close to the high ceiling that has been predicted for them, others have failed to reach the heights that their potential promised.
Who are the ones to look out for in this campaign? Here are five potential breakout stars …
1. Diego Lainez (Real Betis)
He may only be 19 years of age, but Diego Lainez is already a superstar in Mexico. After making his debut for Club América at 16, he regularly contributed for his side and never seemed fazed to be playing at a stadium as grand as the Azteca in Mexico City. Signed by Real Betis in January, his story in European football is only just beginning. There have been glimpses of his skill and sheer ability during his first few months in Spain and supporters at the club are already getting hyped about the winger.
2. Bryan Gil (Sevilla)
Bryan Gil became the first player born in the 21st century to score a goal in La Liga when he found the back of the net against Rayo Vallecano for Sevilla back in April. The 18-year-old was making an appearance off the bench, something that became more and more of a regular occurrence towards the end of the season. While he’s still raw, it’s clear that he can do magical things with a football and his special left foot will surely be responsible for many more goals over the coming years.
3. Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal)
Villarreal came up big at the business end of last season to avoid relegation, thanks in no small part to Samuel Chukwueze. The 19-year-old Nigerian winger made his debut for the Yellow Submarine during their Europa League campaign and quickly gained the trust of the coaching staff, establishing himself as a regular starter in La Liga. Chukwueze repaid that trust scoring crucial goals against relegation rivals Rayo Vallecano and Girona, as well as netting against Barcelona in the thrilling 4-4 draw in April. Chukwueze has shown that he is talented and, luckily for us, that he is a lot of fun to watch. Keep it coming, Samuel!
4. Waldo Rubio (Real Valladolid)
Real Valladolid were able to save themselves from relegation thanks to a strong finish to the 2018/19 season and a major factor during their winning run-in was Waldo Rubio. The 23-year-old winger was only promoted from the club’s B team in March, but he hit the ground running in the top division and scored a memorable and crucial winner against Athletic Club with just a couple of games remaining. Having recently signed a contract extension until 2022, he is just one reason for fans at the José Zorrilla to get excited for this coming season.
5. Adrià Pedrosa (Espanyol)
Last season was one to remember for Adrià Pedrosa. He has long been one of the top prospects in the Espanyol academy and, after performing well with their B team during the first half of last season, was promoted to the senior squad and quickly displaced veteran Didac Vila as the side’s starting left-back. Pedrosa looked at ease playing in La Liga and, in addition to his solid defensive work, showed that he can get forward, scoring a stunning goal against Alaves and setting up another with an 80-metre run against Atletico Madrid. Keep an eye on Pedrosa as Espanyol launch their European campaign this season!
Diego Costa scored four goals as Atletico Madrid embarrassed La Liga rivals Real Madrid 7-3 Friday in a pre-season friendly at MetLife Stadium.
Costa had a hat-trick by halftime and added one more goal before he was sent off in the 63rd, when both teams were reduced to 10 men after a testy shoving match.
The first meeting outside of Europe between the Madrid rivals proved a dismal night for Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid, who saw Serbian starlet Luka Jovic hobble off after an awkward collision with Atletico keeper Jan Oblak in the 24th minute.
Zidane can only hope the news on his injury will be better than that on Marco Asensio, who could miss most if not all of the La Liga season after rupturing a knee ligament against Arsenal on Tuesday.
Portuguese 19-year-old Joao Felix, signed from Benfica this month for €126 million, scored his first goal for Atletico, and helped set up two more.
Angel Correa also scored for Atletico, who had run the score to 5-0 at halftime and 6-0 before Real Madrid got one on the scoreboard before a packed house at the East Rutherford, New Jersey, home of the NFL’s New York Jets and New York Giants.
Costa set the tone in the first minute. Put through in the area by Felix he fired across his body to make it 1-0.
Felix struck in the eighth, slotting home a ball that was cut back to him by Saul Niguez.
Real Madrid keeper Thibaut Courtois could only watch Correa’s 19th-minute blast into the bottom left corner.
Costa bagged his second to make it 4-0 in the 28th, Saul winning the ball after a poor pass from Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos and sending a pass for Costa.
Costa made it 5-0 on the stroke of halftime, converting from the penalty spot after he was brought down in the area by Isco.
Atletico’s lead swelled to 6-0 in the 51st minute when Costa teamed with Felix for his fourth of the night, Felix slotting a pass through Real Madrid’s defence for Costa to arc over Keylor Navas.
Eden Hazard helped Real Madrid pull back a goal in the 59th with a cross that Nacho bundled over the line.
Minutes later Daniel Carvajal’s late challenge on Thomas Lemar saw tempers flare, with both Costa and Carvajal sent off.
Undeterred, Atletico grabbed their seventh goal in the 70th thanks’ to a superb solo run by Vitolo, who seized the ball from two defenders and beat two more to score.
Karim Benzema converted an 85th-minute penalty and Javi Hernandez scored in the 89th to trim the deficit, but there was little for Real Madrid to be proud of.
Welsh star Gareth Bale – reportedly on the verge of a lucrative move to Chinese Super League outfit Jiangsu Suning – was sent on with less than half an hour remaining but couldn’t provide a spark.
Atletico Madrid’s latest big-money signing Joao Felix revealed that former Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo provided him valuable advice ahead of the 2018/19 season.
The pair were part of the Portuguese camp at the UEFA Nations League earlier this summer, winning the inaugural event by beating the Netherlands in the final.
Felix revealed that Ronaldo offered advice during Portuguese’s 3-1 win over Switzerland in the semi-final.
“Yes, a lot,” Felix said in an AMA with Bleacher Report when asked if Ronaldo had offered any guidance.
“In the first game that I played, he gave me a lot of advice.
“[He said] to be calm, to play my football.”
Felix then expressed his excitement at sharing the field with Belgium international Eden Hazard. The 19-year-old labelled the former Chelsea man his idol, along with childhood hero Kaka.
“[Eden] Hazard,” he said, “because he’s one of… he’s an idol that I’ve watched before and I’d like to see him play.”