In Focus: Five LaLiga young guns to watch from Yeremi Pino to Nico Williams

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LaLiga is the perfect environment for wonderkids to develop into world-class footballers.

Former Barcelona icons Lionel Messi and Neymar both fulfilled their extraordinary potential in Spain, while Cristiano Ronaldo scaled new heights at Real Madrid.

Countless others have made their names in one of the continent’s finest leagues — and a new generation of starlets are ready to make their mark in 2022-23.

Ahead of the upcoming campaign, we take a look at five youngsters to keep an eye on this season.

Jeremiah Pino

Yeremi Pino was one of Villarreal’s standout performers last term — registering 10 goal contributions in just under 1,700 minutes of league action.

The 19-year-old has already been linked with a move to Real Madrid, as an alternative to Kylian Mbappe.

He can play anywhere across the forward line and has been key to Villarreal implementing Unai Emery’s tactics.

It is easy to see why — the Las Palmas native was in the 70th percentile or above for tackles, blocks and interceptions over the previous year, when compared with attacking midfielders and wingers in Europe’s top five leagues.

According to reports, Arnaut Danjuma could be returning to England, which would only increase Pino’s importance to the Yellow Submarine.

Gavi

Gavi has the ability to pull the strings in midfield for Barcelona, ​​just as he did last season
Gavi has the ability to pull the strings in midfield for Barcelona, ​​just as he did last season

Despite Barcelona bolstering their midfield options with the signing of Franck Kessie, 2022-23 is set to be a huge season for Gavi.

The prodigious 17-year-old is believed to be a transfer target for Liverpool but is expected to sign a new deal at Camp Nou.

After all, Xavi made his thoughts on the youngster’s contract situation clear, when speaking in April.

He said: “They [Gavi and Ronald Araujo] are very important. The club cannot allow either of them to leave.

“They are transcendent footballers. I think their renewals are a matter of time. I want to think that the two of them will stay and reach an agreement with the club. I’m optimistic.”

If Barca can get a deal done then Gavi could be a metronomic presence in the Blaugrana’s engine room for the next two decades.

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Rodrygo

Rodrygo is believed to be close to signing a new contract with Real Madrid, following his exploits in their successful Champions League winning campaign.

The Brazilian, 21, netted twice in Los Blancos’ historic comeback against Manchester City to reach the final — and his exposure to first-team football will only increase after the club failed to add Mbappe to their ranks.

Furthermore, Marco Asensio has been linked with a move elsewhere, so — following Gareth Bale’s departure — the right-wing role could soon belong exclusively to Real’s No. 21.

Compatriot Vinicius Junior needed a couple of seasons to truly adapt to LaLiga before finally exploding. The same could be about to happen with Rodrygo.

Rodrygo is ready to step up a level at Real Madrid next term
Rodrygo is ready to step up a level at Real Madrid next term

Fernando Nino

Villarreal’s Fernando Nino endured a frustrating season on loan at Mallorca last term.

The Andalusian forward scored just twice in 879 minutes of league football, despite being a genuine goal threat whenever he was on the pitch.

On a per 90 basis, the 21-year-old had an expected goals average of 0.31, so he could have significantly increased that tally with a little bit more luck in the final third.

Instead, he is going to go under the radar — but that could be of benefit to Emery and his team.

Nico Williams

Nico Williams is a wizard on the wing for Athletic Bilbao and his explosive pace can cause carnage
Nico Williams is a wizard on the wing for Athletic Bilbao and his explosive pace can cause carnage

Athletic Bilbao’s Nico Williams is something of a cheat code.

He is the ultimate pressure reliever due to his ball-carrying ability, while also causing all sorts of problems when he has space to attack.

The 19-year-old was in the 92nd percentile for dribbles completed last season (2.76 per 90) and the 81st percentile for progressive carries (7.81 per 90), when compared with wingers and attacking midfielders in Europe’s top five leagues.

There are plenty of similarities between him and his brother, Inaki — but his style is also comparable to that of Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha.

A direct and tricky wide forward, Williams will be looking to improve his all-round game by contributing more goals this term.

The Pamplona-born youngster is in the perfect environment to develop, although Athletic might have difficulty keeping him at San Mames if he continues to progress.

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