BEST YOUNG SPAIN PLAYERS

PROFILING SOME OF SPAIN'S EXCITING YOUNG TALENT

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.

You can find more in-depth player reports in the Scouted Football Handbook, our quarterly magazine in which we profile 25 of the world’s best up-and-coming talents, with additional original features and exclusive interviews included.

LAST UPDATED: JANUARY 7, 2022

Sergio Gómez

Anderlecht's Sergio Gomez

DETAILS

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

background

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 Euros.

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 is now kick-starting his career.

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 earn him another move to a top-five league before long.

Pedri

Pedri playing for Spain

DETAILS

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

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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.

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.

Yéremy Pino

Villareal's Yeremi Pino

DETAILS

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

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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.

STYLE OF PLAY

Yeremy 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.

Martín Zubimendi

Real Sociedad's Martin Zubimendi

DETAILS

STRENGTHS

WEAKNESSES

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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 setup.

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.

FC Barcelona have many of them – from Pedri and Ansu Fati, established first-teamers and senior internationals, to Gavi and Nico, emerging academy players.

Barcelona’s La Msi and Real Madrid’s La Fábrica are the two leading youth academies in Spanish football, producing a number of high-level international players. Clubs like Athletic Club, Atlético Madrid, Real Betis, Valencia and, more recently, Villarreal have had success in developing players too.