Best young Spain players
Brief scouting reports on some of our favourite emerging Spanish talents
Spain are perrenial contenders at youth international level, often developing young players with high-level technique and advanced tactical understanding. Here are reports on some of their emerging generation. Each cover their backgrounds, styles, strengths and weaknesses.
More profiles can be found in the goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders, wingers and strikers sections. Below, you’ll find profiles covering backgrounds, styles, strengths and weaknesses, while providing links to where you can find out more about them.
For full in-depth analysis of some of the best young players from all over the planet, check out our profiles page. We have countlesss profiles on players there, focussing on a range of talents from across the world. There are also exclusive interviews too, and plenty more.
After starring for Spain’s under-17 sides throughout 2017, a lot of intrigue built up around Sergio Gómez, then of FC Barcelona. So much so, Borussia Dortmund, renowned for their recruitment of young players, signed him for €3 million.
He couldn’t make a lasting breakthrough at BVB, appearing just three times for the first-team. He was then loaned back to Spain, with SD Huesca in the Segunda División. Two seasons and a promotion there preceded a permanent move to Belgian giants RSC Anderlecht, where Gómez rebooted his career before landing himself a big move to Manchester City in the summer of 2022.
Sergio Gómez's style of play
At youth level, Gómez was an attacker that typically played in wider areas. He impressed with his technical ability, creating and scoring goals with his excellent left foot.
He found the transition to senior level difficult, though, where defenders are bigger and quicker. But since a loan move to Huesca, Gómez has reinvented himself as a left wing-back – a role which affords him more time and space on the ball.
From wing-back, Gómez gets forward regularly. He’s a big threat on the overlap, driving into space from deep, executing his movements with good timing and speed. Once on the ball, he has the composure and quality to pick out and pull off dangerous crosses – many of them across the ground into the six-yard box. He’s already assisted 10 goals in the league this season, all of them from open play.
His defensive awareness and techniques have room to improve, but those will come with experience and coaching. Nevertheless, his ability in attacking phases will be nurtured under Pep Guardiola in a way we saw him do with Oleksandr Zinchenko in the past.
Sergio Gómez has high level technique and a great instinct to overlap as a wing-back that makes him a major final third threat.
As a winger turned wing-back, Gómez still has some defensive shortcomings in terms of his awareness and technique in the tackle.
Starting the 2020/21 season as a relatively low-profile acquisition for Barcelona from second division club Las Palmas, Pedri ended it as a household name, as a star performer for Spain at the European Championship as well. In between that, the teenager established himself as a key starter at Barça, offering much-needed hope for an ailing club. An ever-present for both club and country, Pedri’s progress was an exponential rise.
Pedri's style of play
Pedri is everything you want and expect from a Barcelona player. In the mould of Andres Iniesta, he brings elite level technical excellence, ball carrying, and creative passing to his team. But above all, Pedri is an elite scanner. He has often already processed exactly what he needs to do before he has received the ball, swivelling his head to assess his options. He has so much confidence in what he can do on the ball that he does not need to concentrate too much on receiving it.
Pedri also brings the modern aspect of high pressing off the ball as well. He has a big engine and works hard to shut down full-backs and wide players.
He definitely lacks size from a defensive standpoint though. While he should grow into this a bit more, it is hard to see the lanky teen ever truly developing into a more robust, physically strong defensive body.
Pedri is an elite-level scanner who always has a picture of the pitch in his mind, allowing him to find targets in hard to spot places, and he has the technique and passing ability to achieve this.
Pedri could take his game to the next level by adding a bit more physicality and more goalscoring to his repertoire.
Villareal are the little club that could, constantly punching above their weight not just at Spanish but European level. Yéremy Pino is the latest young star to emerge at the club, coming to prominence under the tutelage of Unai Emery since his debut in October 2020.
Yéremy Pino's style of play
Yéremy is already a nicely well-rounded attacking player: he can play across the front three, and is quite active and energetic defensively. He has been playing predominantly on the right, where he likes to hold his width but is always looking to come inside once he receives the ball.
He is a great wide outlet pass because he can hold the ball up well and feed it back into midfield or he can look to carry the ball forward and stretch the defence, though he lacks short creative passing as a weapon. He gives Emery a lot of options though because he is very comfortable in all phases of play both in attack and defence.
The next step for him will be looking to build on his final third output and really become that full package, especially adding more shot-creating actions to his game, even if he is playing fairly deep on the wing.
Yéremy Pino is a versatile wide player effective in multiple phases of play, especially defensively for such a young player.
To reach the next step in his career, Yéremy Pino will need to add more final third output to his game, as a scorer, but especially as a creator.
Martín Zubimendi, alongside Mikel Oyarzabal, is one of the symbols of the new era Real Sociedad; a perennial contender for the Champions League places in La Liga, built with players developed in one of Spain’s most productive academies. Zubimendi had worked with La Real’s current head coach Imanol Alguacil at length in the youth ranks, before Alguacil brought him into the senior set-up.
Zubimendi is starting to hit new heights in the 2022/23 season, further establishing himself as one of the best emerging pivot midfielders in European football. He’s also signed a new contract at La Real, including an increased buy-out clause.
Martín Zubimendi's style of play
The Spanish midfielder is at his best in the early stage of build-up play. He is secure in possession and receives the ball confidently, allowing himself the opportunity to raise his vision and find a target to progress the ball too.
He plays as the deepest midfielder, often tucking in between the centre-backs to receive the ball and create avenues to evade an opposition press. Given the conservative nature of his positioning though, he needs to develop more as a ball progressor to counter-balance the fact that he will not push up the field.
This does provide a lot of security to Sociedad defensively, though Zubimendi’s strength in this area is largely due to his positioning rather than his strength or aggression as a defensive player.
The main concern for Zubimendi is a that he fits a very specific role and plays in a particularly way that is not necessarily suited to a lot of modern systems – he fits a more patient, possession style, rather than the aggressive pressing systems that are becoming more common around Europe.
Martín Zubimendi is a high quality number six in possession, with the positional sense, technique and passing quality you would expect from a Spanish holding midfielder.
Martín Zubimendi has two clear weaknesses: a lack of intensity out of possession, and being a little bit too conservative with possession.
Barcelona’s Pedri is one of the very best, for sure, followed by his team-mates Gavi and Ansu Fati. There’s also the likes of Yéremy Pino, Oihan Sancet and Nico Williams.
Barcelona’s La Masia and Real Madrid’s La Fábrica are the two leading youth academies in Spanish football, producing a number of high-level international players.