Join us as we take a look at the top young players from Europe’s best leagues in 2021 to find out who are the best young La Liga Players of 2021:
It seems like that every season the players that take the center stage in any given league around the world are getting younger and younger. Perhaps one of the competitions that value this youth development above everything else is the German Bundesliga. We have now reached the point that players like Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe are established superstars of the game despite them still being 21 or 22 years old. Which makes taking a closer look at these young players all the more exciting.
With the emergence of players like Pedro, Gavi and Sergino Dest as well as the rebuilding project that is happening in Real Madrid’s squad that has seen players like Vinicious Jr and Rodrygo be given multiple chances, even La Liga’s biggest teams are taking part in this trend of giving the youth players big chances. Of course the other teams in the league has done so too, be it for strictly financial reasons since they cannot acquire players in this tough market or because these young players are simply that good. Nevertheless, we have decided to look at these players to find out who are the
best young La Liga players of 2021
We have decided to be as inclusive as possible when it comes to choosing which clubs La Liga best young players of 2021 and which positions they play. But as with any list about La Liga, the big clubs (Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid) are sure to have more players on the list.
First on our list of
La Liga best young players of 2021
is La Masia’s newest academy graduate, Gavi, who has turned a lot of heads lately on the count of being included by Luis Enrique in Spain’s senior squad despite being barely 17. The talented midfielder is hailed by many to follow in the footsteps of Pedri and maybe one day try to emulate Barcelona greats like Xavi or Andres Iniesta. But for now he is certainly having a great time representing his boyhood club.
Pablo Martín Paez Gavira known as Gavi started his youth career atReal Betis
where he played for until 2015. Then, an 11 year old Gavi joined Barcelona’s La Masia academy and quickly rose through the ranks until he was given his first professional contract in 2020 and the made his debut for Barcelona B. having played the entirety of last season with Barcelona B, Gavi was included in Barcelona’s pre-season tour for this season by Ronald Koeman and he was able to secure playing time ahead of the likes of Riqui Puig.
So as the new season came around Gavi found himself a place in Ronald Koeman’s squad and has been playing regularlu for Barcelona ever since. He has drawn comparisons with Xavi and Iniesta because of the way he moves with the ball and in tight spaces as well as his ability to read the game very well. This all culminated to his surprise call up to Spain’s senior squad and he has since made 4 appearances for La Roja, including one in Nations League’s semi-final where he showed his true potential as one of the best young La Liga players of 2021.
Real Madrid is a club that is known for going after established superstars but as we have already learned with Fede Valverde, they are also good at recognizing young talent, which seems to be the case when it comes to Eduardo Camavinga. Although not a complete unknown as Camavinga has been known to football fans to be one of the best young players in football, him joining Los Blancos was a gamble on both him and Madrid’s side but it paid off pretty well as no one expected the 18-year-old to be a hit at Madrid straight away, which he has been!
Eduardo Camavinga who turned 19 just this week, made his professional debut forRennes
in the 2018-19 season and it was soon apparent that there will be a fight between the Europe’s elite clubs to sign him in the following seasons. A defensive midfielder by trade, Camavinga can also operate further on the pitch on the count of his great technique, composure and his understanding of the game. He could also be utilized as a box to box midfielder and can be perhaps honed to be a player in the style of France’s own Paul Pogba.
With Camavinga already making his debut with France as well as his incredible performances inLigue 1
and with his contract coming to an end in summer of 2022, it was only matter of time that a team snatched him up and that team turned out to be Ancelotti’s Real Madrid. He quickly became integrated in Real Madrid’s first team and made his debut against Celta Vigo and later scored in that same match and he has been featuring regularly for Madrid ever since. One of the best young La Liga players of 2021, Camavinga is sure to have a bright future at Madrid and for France if he is coached properly!
Lately both the United States and Canada have had some of their most exciting young talents playing and impressing in Europe. One of those incredible players has been Barcelona’s Sergino Dest. The Barcelona full back, like many of his American players from his generation, started his senior career in Europe rather than America and his time at the prestigious Ajax academy proved vital as he is now living his dream of playing for Barcelona and being one of the
best young players in La Liga.
Although there are areas of his playing style that needs strengthening, Sergino Dest is on his way to becoming one of the best full backs in Europe.
Dest, who turned 21 just recently, is ambidextrous which allows him to play at both flanks as a full-back. After playing for a season with Jong Ajax, Dest made his debut for Ajax’s senior team in the 2019-20 season. he impressed Ajax’s coaching staff enough to make him a regular starter and he went on to feature in 35 matches for Ajax in all competitions. As a full back, Dest’s speed and technique are his best assets as he is able to take on many defenders going forward while still be able to track back fast when defending.
Dest’s performances at Ajax were enough to garner him a lot of attention from Europe’s biggest clubs, even throughout the season, but he ultimately decided to join Barcelona for a transfer fee €21 million fee plus a further €5 million in add-ons. While his time at Nou Camp haven’t exactly been brilliant mainly to Barcelona’s overall lack of quality in recent seasons, he has cemented his place in Barcelona’s starting eleven.
His spot at a team like Barcelona and his increased performance levels as the season went on, especially in 2021, speaks volumes about his attitude and potential to become one of the best in the world and is exactly the reason he is among the best young La Liga players of 2021. Dest was also able to win his first trophy with Blaugrana as they won the Copa del Rey last season.
Next up we have Villarreal’s Yeremi Pino who has really come into his own under Unai Emery’s time as Villarreal’s manager. Pino is a native of Canary Isles and he started his career playing for Las Palmas’ youth teams before catching the eye of several big clubs in Spain. He then made the baffling move of refusing Barcelona’s offer to join their La Masia academy and instead chose Villarreal where he felt that he could develop faster ad get more playing time.
Yeremy’s decision seemed to pay off as he was immediately put in Villarreal’s C team and then after a season in Spain’s 3rd division, he was promoted to the club’s B team. Pino’s performances in the reserve side piqued the interest of Unai Emery enough to include him in his first team squad for the last season and Yeremy managed to score 4 goals in the limited time he was give last season.
At the end of last season, Yeremi Pino broke records as he became the youngest Spanish player to play in a major European final asVillarreal
face Manchester United and he then became the youngest player to ever win a European final as they beat United on penalties. This earned him a surprise call up to Spain’s senior side much like Barca’s Gavi and he has since become a much more important part of Villarreal’s first team, having contributed by scoring a goal and assisting 3 in the 2021-22 season so far.
One of the La Liga best young players of 2021 is certainly Atletico Madrid’s Joao Felix. The 4th most expensive players of all time joined Atletico Madrid from Benfica for a transfer fee of €126 million in 2019 and is tipped by many to become one of the best players of the next generation. while Joao Felix is without a doubt one of the most promising youngsters around Europe and is valued highly by everyone, the Portuguese superstar has failed to fully deliver on his potential ever since he has joinedAtletico Madrid
but has maintained good form nonetheless.
Initially a part of Porto’s youth setup, Joao Felix joined their rivals Benfica later on and it was in Benfica’s reserve team that he impressed enough to be promoted to the first team. His single season of senior football for Benfica resulted in him scoring 20 goals in 43 matches and have every club in Europe after his signature. In the end though, Felix decided to join Atletico for the aforementioned fee which in hindsight may seem like a poor choice on his part due to Atletico’s famously defensive tactics under Diego Simeone.
But all was not lost since Joao Felix’s second season at Atletico was far better and the Portuguese youngster managed to play a big part in Atletico Madrid’s successful La Liga campaign by scoring 7 and assisting 5 goals and helping Atletico win La Liga. Since he is one of the
best young La Liga players of 2021
and only 22, Felix is also one of the most valuable players in the world right now which makes him an extremely important player for Atletico going forward.
Let’s jump from Atletico to the other side of the Madrid city where a certain Uruguayan midfielder has been one of
La Liga under 23 players
. That player being Federico Valverde who is coincidentally one of the most valuable La Liga players in 2021. The Uruguayan midfielder has really come into his own in recent seasons and has been able to carve out a place for himself in Real Madrid’s impressive midfield line, despite his numerous injuries. His performances have been enough for Real Madrid to let go of players like Dani Ceballos and Martin Odegaard, both talented youngsters, in favor of him.
Born and raised in Montevideo, Uruguay, Fede Valverde made his professional debut for Penarol and it wasn’t long that he caught the eye of many European clubs. He then moved to Real Madrid in 2016 and played for their reserve side Castilla for a season before being loaned out to Deportivo La Coruna for a season. upon his return it was Julen Lopetegui who gave him a chance and brought him to the first team in order to replace the newly departed Marcos Llorente. A job that Fede Valverde has been doing quite well since then.
Having helped Real Madrid immensely in the 2019-20 season to win the La Liga title, Valverde became a favorite of bothZidane
and the fans, something that has not changed in 2021. The fact that he can hold his own amongst the likes of Modric, Kroos and Casemiro and his age (23) makes him one of the best young La Liga players of 2021 and a great asset to Real Madrid moving forward. They are sure to build their team around players like Valverde as their previous generation of players are nearing the end of their career and Valverde seems to be at the heart of that rebuild.
The second defender on our list of best young players in La Liga is Sevilla’s Jules Kounde. The Frenchman has impressed a lot in the past couple of seasonsin a way that he has garnered much attention and has been subject to a lengthy transfer saga all the way through the 2021 summer transfer window that involved teams like Chelsea and Manchester United. He also earned a call up to the insanely talented French squad for the Euro 2020 and despite many thinking his transfer to Chelsea was done already the move fell through in the last minute, he will remain a Sevilla player until at least the January of 2022!
Born in Paris, Jules Kounde went on to make his professional debut not for a local club but Bordeaux, having prior played in the club’s youth academy. 2 impressive seasons at Bordeaux after his 2017 debut followed before Kounde caught the eye of many top clubs. However, he decided to further develop his skills as a defender at Sevilla rather than moving to a big club straight away. the move cost Sevilla a reported €25 million but we suspect they will more than recoup that fee in the next few months.
A ball playing defender who is adept at playing as both a center back and a full back with an emphasis on being a center back, Jules Kounde was one of
La Liga best players of 2020/21
season as he helped Sevilla book a Champions League spot for the 2021-22 season. it will be interesting to see ifChelsea
come back for him in January, especially since they have a defender shortage, and snatch up one of the best young La Liga players of 2021.
Ever since his arrival at Real Madrid for a hefty price of €45 million, Brazilian Vinicius Jr. was tipped to become one of the best young forwards in the game. He was deemed to be the next big thing but as time passed it was becoming apparent that while Vinicius had some serious raw talent, people may have been overestimating his potential. Once regarded as the ‘Next Ronaldo’, Vinicius was looking more and more like a Robinho-type player who had talent but failed to adapt to European football.
After making 5 appearances for Real Madrid Castilla and scoring 4, Vinicius was promoted to the first team and during the course of the next 3 seasons he managed to score only 15 in 118 appearances. It looked more and more likely that Real Madrid would eventually give up on him and either loan or sell him. But Enter Carlo Ancelotti, who has a knack for working with young Brazilian players like Kaka, and suddenly Vinicius was a whole other player.
Since the start of this season, there have been only a handful of strikers who have done better than Vinicius Jr as the Brazilian has massively improved his game by scoring 12 and assisting 5 in all competitions in only 21 matches. he has already surpassed his goal tally for the last two seasons combined and with Ancelotti in charge it seems that Vinicius has finally arrived and Real Madrid has a serious talent in their hand.
With how well he has been playing and the fact that he is one of the best young La Liga players of 2021, it will be interesting to see what kind of place he has in Real Madrid’s future as the club looks to bring Kylian Mbappe to Bernabeu.
A player that has been the subject of many discussions and speculation all throughout the last season and especially in the summer due to his amazing performances at club and international level was Sweden's Alexander Isak. His incredible performances atReal Sociedad
alongside the likes of Mikel Oyarzabal, led the club to the rare occasion of winning silverware when they were able to claim the 2019-20 Copa del Rey. After a decent Euro 2020 campaign, Isak’s fine form from last season has continued this season and he has cemented his palce as one of the best La Liga under 23 players.
Alexander Isak, who is the youngest ever goal scorer in Sweden’s national team, got his professional debut pretty early in his career as he was only 16 when he scored his first professional goal at senior level. Now at 21, he is a much more experienced player after representing 4 clubs in 4 different European leagues. His career started at the local club AIK but he soon caught the eye of talent scouts all over Europe before making the switch to Borussia Dortmund, who are known for developing young talents.
He didn’t exactly light it up at Dortmund though, so in order to get playing time, he left the club and ended up moving to the Dutch side Willem II on loan in 2018. He managed to score 14 goals in 18 appearances for the Eredvisie club before joining Real Sociedad permanently in the summer of 2019. Despite being tall(1.92m) Isak is mostly known for his incredible technique on the ball. He was able to hone his ball-carrying ability as well as his knack for scoring goals in his first season at Sociedad where he managed to score 17 goals in all competitions. His 7 goals in Copa del Rey was instrumental in helping the club win the competition last year.
With 16 and 17 goals in his previous two seasons respectively, many expected Isak who is one of the best young La Liga players of 2021 to deliver again this season and he has so far by scoring 11 for club and country this season. although he may not still be the finished article, there is no denying the immense potential that Isak has which has made some people call him the new Zlatan!
And the crown jewel of the best young players in La Liga and in fact the world, is 2021’s Golden Boy winner, Barcelona’s Pedri. The Spanish midfielder was the busiest player in all of Europe, playing an eye-watering amount of 73 games and taking part in multiple competitions with Barcelona before travelling for Euro 2020. He then played in all of Spain’s matches until they were knocked out in the semi-finals which was then followed by him going to Japan to help Spain reach the Olympics final which they eventually lost to Brazil, earning Pedri an Olympic Silver Medal.
Pedri’s work-rate and mentality aside, the thing that makes him stand out from others of his generation is his immense talent and maturity as a midfielder. So much so that Spain’s manager, Luis Enrique, has claimed that he has never seen an 18 year-old play as well as Pedri has in Euro 2020, going as far as comparing Pedri to “Don Iniesta”. The Barcelona youngster plays with the maturity of a playmaker in his prime and has benched the likes of Thiago and Coutinho to play every single minute of Spain and Barcelona’s matches from the last season.
Pedri, who is a product of Las Palmas academy, broke out into the first team in the 2019-20 season where he played almost the entire campaign despite only being 17 at the time. His excellent performances in the Segunda Division for Las Palmas were enough to make may big clubs interested in him but it was Barcelona who brought him to Nou Camp and unlike many of their recent signings, Pedri actually delivered.
Pedri made 37 appearances for Barcelona in La Liga (52 in all competitions), pushing the likes of Coutinho and Miralem Pjanic out of the starting line-up for the entirety of the season. he even won the Copa del Rey in his debut season with Barcelona. And if that all wasn’t enough for you to be convinced that Pedri is one of the
best young La Liga players of 2021
, the fact that he won the 2021 Golden Boy Award last week above the likes of Erling Haaland, Bukayo Saka and Phil Foden, has to!
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