With the new football season just started, here is a look at some of the potential breakout stars for the new campaign.
Last season saw the breakout of the likes of Asier Illarramendi, Alberto Moreno, Dani Carvajal, Ruben Garcia, Jese Rodriguez and so on as they took their game to the next level and began to deliver on the promise they showed as youth on the grand stage.
Here are some of the players likely to emerge this season:
Alejandro Pozuelo (Swansea City)
Pozuelo is the latest Spaniard to join Michael Laudrup’s Spanish revolution at Swansea City or ‘Ciudad Swansea’ as I love to call it. Signed from Real Betis for €500,000, he is a potential for bargain of the season. His Swans career is off to a flyer already as he netted in his first competitive game in the Europa League 3rd qualifying round game against Malmo FF.
Pozuelo is an attacking midfielder who sits behind the forward, providing the armoury. He is blessed with a delightful touch, quick feet and thought and complete with an eye for the pass.
Pozuelo has for long been tipped for stardom and not so long ago was linked with a move to Manchester United. There is inevitably, a feeling of what could have been amongst Beticos.
His move to Swansea could not have come at a better time as he is at the stage of his career where he needs to be playing regularly at a high level and the move to Swansea will afford him just that.
Ismael ‘Isma’ Lopez (Sporting Gijon on loan from Athletic Bilbao)
Isma is one of the most talented players to come out of Athletic’s Lezama in recent times.
The talented winger returned to Athletic last season after a brief spell at Lugo where he helped them gain promotion to the Segunda Division.
He broke into the team earlier in the season but injuries and inconsistent displays saw him on the fringes.
On loan at Sporting Gijon for the season. The move to the rocky climes of the Asturias, under the guidance of Jose Ramon Sandoval could see his career hit new heights.
Jose Campaña (Crystal Palace)
Campaña recently signed for Crystal Palace for €2million after failing to agree to a new contract. London may be just what he needs to kick-start a career that has promised so much yet delivered precious little.
For long he was touted as the next big thing to come out of the Sevilla youth system. He obliterated records at youth level and often played with kids above age – such was his talent – and he went on to make his first team debut against Hannover 96 in a Europa League qualifier aged 18.
Playing in central midfield, Campaña reads the game cleverly and has a very impressive range of passing and can also dictate the tempo of a game. What he lacks in pace and power, he more than makes up for in intelligence and technique. He is in every way the archetypal Spanish midfielder. He sights ball retention and distribution as his best qualities.
“What I like to think are my best qualities are keeping the ball and having good distribution”
His ability is not in question but why things did not quite work out well with Sevilla remains a mystery. Crystal Palace represents a chance to begin afresh.
Pablo Sarabia (Getafe)
A product of Real Madrid’s famed La Fabrica academy, Sarabia took the all too familiar route of joining city neighbours, Getafe from Real Madrid in 2011. He has however been unable to break into the team, making 15 starts in both league and cup in two seasons. Not even a long term injury lay off to Pedro Leon in 2012 could aid his cause. Luis Garcia is the kind of coach that likes to stick his tried and trusted team.
He recently voiced his dissatisfaction at the lack of opportunities and may look to move away from the Coliseum Alfonso Perez.
A European champion at U19 and U21 level with Spain, he was part of the Spain team that beat all comers at the just held Euro U21 championships in Israel, putting in a brilliant performance against Holland in the group stage where he assisted two goals as Spain ran out 3-0 winners.
An attacking midfielder who often plays from the right despite being left footed, he can also play across all the attacking positions. Sarabia is good on the dribble and has a very good cross. He often looks to drift inwards from wide positions and have a pop at goal. He is also very dangerous when one against one. What stands him out the most is his eye for the final pass.
As I mentioned earlier, he may look to move away from Getafe with Elche mentioned as a likely destination for a loan move or he may yet stay with Getafe and with Abdel Barrada having departed, he may play a major role for the Azulones this season.
Ruben Pardo(Real Sociedad):
The 20 year old midfielder has the uneviable task of filling the void left by Illarramendi in La Real’s midfield. Not an easy task by any means but it shows how much belief the La Real management have in the youngster.
Manager, Jagoba Arrasate recently said he is not looking forward to bringing in any more players and stated his satisfaction with his current squad – a huge endorsement for Ruben.
La Real’s mangement have taken a slow and steady approach as regards drafting him in the first team, preferring to carefully blood him in rather than throw him in at the deep end – a decision that has not often gone down well with the Txuri-Urdin faithful who demand to see the pearl of the Zubieta in regular action.
Pardo is a central midfielder who likes to drop deep and collect the ball, spreading it beautifully across the pitch; orchestrating play. He always wants the ball, moving brilliantly across the pitch and always making himself an option to recieve the pass.
Of course, there have been comparisons with Xabi Alonso – the inevitable cross it seems that every midfielder coming out of the Zubieta these days have to bear…Ask Illara – and a bid from Real Madrid earlier in the year was reportedly turned down.
With Real Sociedad set to play in the Champions League this season, Pardo has a big season ahead of him.
Francisco ‘Paco’ Alcacer:
Paco did not have a successful loan spell at Getafe last season. He made a total of four starts in both league and cup, scoring four goals. He played a combined total of 867 minutes and he only twice completed 90 minutes. A disappointing season, no doubt but the experience of playing in the top flight will be invaluable.
Paco will hope to force his way into Valencia’s team this season. Manager, Miroslav Djukic , recently said the 19 year old striker is on his agenda.
Good pace, intelligent movement and composure all combine to make Paco a lethal finisher.
With Soldado and Valdes having departed Valencia, he should feature prominently for Los Che this season.
Uyi Ogbebor can be found on twitter @goody2_boots