The 8th edition of the prestigious Futbol Draft award was decided on Tuesday, with the top 33 young talents in Spain being honoured by an independent panel of experts from the RFEF, LFP, AFE and more. Players born after 1992 were voted into three teams, Gold, Silver and Bronze, based on who the panel think are the most promising at this moment in time.
In recent years the likes of Thiago, De Gea, Fabregas, Pique, Mata, Javi Martinez and Busquets have all been honoured with places in the Gold XI, but who are the next generation of stars that could be unconvered by Futbol Draft? We take a look at the three teams.
In goal is for me the obvious choice, Athletic Bilbao ‘keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga having had a great year in particular with Spain’s U19 side, where he kept goal for their European triumph and earned a promotion to the U21’s.
In defence, Bayer Leverkusen’s Dani Carvajal has taken the regular Bundesliga action with ease and is wanted back at Real Madrid, with Sevilla’s breakthrough star Alberto Moreno on the other flank. Catalan pairing Jordi Amat and Sergi Gómez make up the central pairing, the latter enjoying another solid campaign for Barca B, and Espanyol’s Amat having reminded us again of his quality on loan at Rayo.
Atlético Madrid duo Koke and Saúl Ñíguez are chosen in the heart of midfield. As an undisputed starter for the rojiblancos Koke picks himself and keeps his place from last year’s Gold XI, although 18 year-old Saúl is a little more surprising, but not undeserved nonetheless. Málaga’s Isco Alarcón is of course the playmaker, and is arguably the biggest talent in the team.
Despite an underwhelming campaign, Basque wonderkid Iker Muniain is included for a third successive year, with teenage star Gerard Deulofeu (Barcelona) and Álvaro Morata (Real Madrid) unsurprisingly making up the attack.
A regular for struggling Racing Santander, Dani Sotres is chosen as goalkeeper for the Silver team. The youngster is likely to keep goal in the U20 World Cup for Spain next month.
Two more of last year’s Under-19 heroes are in defence, tough centre-half Derik Osede of Real Madrid, and Celta Vigo’s 19 year-old utility man Joni Castro, who has enjoyed a solid first campaign in La Liga this year. They are joined by Pablo Iñiguez, another teenager who is now a regular in Segunda with Villarreal, and Athletic Bilbao left-back Jon Aurtenetxe, who provides experience to the team.
The midfield is made up of three young talents who all debuted for Spain’s Under-21’s last February, Real Sociedad’s playmaking prodigy Rubén Pardo, tough tackling Pedro Obiang of Sampdoria, and the pearl of Atlético Madrid’s cantera, young Óliver Torres.
Ahead of them, another of this year’s La Liga breakthrough stars in Rubén García (Levante) makes the team, as does ex-Real Madrid wing wizard Pablo Sarabia. Now at Getafe, he is not their only representative in this team, with Paco Alcácer, the prolific centre-forward on loan from Valencia, the main striker.
For the bronze team, stopper Rubén Blanco, another of the sublime generation coming up at Celta Vigo, is included and is the youngest representative of all three teams.
Atlético right-back Javi Manquillo makes the team, with two of his Spain U20 teammates alongside him in edefence. Sevilla’s Israel Puerto scored in the recent friendly win over Paraguay and partners Jonas Ramalho of Athletic in the centre, with another La Masia graduate in Marc Muniesa at left-back.
Two of Barcelona B and Real Madrid Castilla’s main midfielders are in this team, Álex Fernández and Sergi Roberto, who despite being rivals at club level have played many times for Spain’s youth sides and have had impressive seasons respectively in the Liga Adelante. Liverpool’s supremely talented playmaker Suso makes up the midfield in the #10 role.
Surprisingly, the star of Real Madrid’s La Fabrica academy and ‘pichichi’ of the Under-19 Euro’s, Jesé Rodríguez, only makes the bronze team as a left-forward, with clubmate Raúl de Tomas (18) the striker. Making up the line-up is Betis winger Álvaro Vadillo, another in the long line of talented widemen from the 1994 generation in Spain.
There were a few perhaps surprising omissions, for example Barcelona’s fabulous young left-back Alejandro Grimaldo didn’t make the cut, although he has suffered a lot from injuries lately. The same can apply to Sevilla’s José Campaña who had an excellent tournament in the U19 Euro’s last year, and to a lesser extent Manchester City youngster Denis Suárez, although other players from that team were overlooked on a different basis. For example, Juanmi (Racing, on loan from Málaga), who has sadly regressed a lot in the last 18 months, and the very impressive Juan Bernat of Valencia were also not included.
Of course though, with the huge amount of talent coming through in Spain right now, it is always going to be difficult to make decisions like this, and there will always be quality left out. Looking at the three teams though, you can be sure that the current generation have a line of successors that have the potential to match their success and knows, maybe even emulate it. Two of the Golden XI, Isco and Muniain, have already represented La Roja at the highest level, but you can be certain they will bet the first of many of the names you see on this page.