LaLiga 2019-20: Lainez, Bryan and the potential breakout stars
Spain's football season is almost upon us, with another thrilling campaign in store in LaLiga.
But while many will focus on Lionel Messi, Eden Hazard and the revolution at Atletico Madrid, some younger talents could establish themselves as LaLiga stars in the coming season.
There are several players up and down the league who will be desperate for their big opportunity.
With the help of Opta, we take a look at five prospects who debuted in the competition last term and will hope for breakout seasons.
Diego Lainez (Real Betis)
Winger Lainez only turned 19 in June, but he already has four caps for Mexico, having established himself as a top prospect at Club America after debuting at 16.
Although Lainez did not make an immediate impact at Betis after a €14million January move, starting just three LaLiga games, he scored a last-gasp equaliser against Rennes in the Europa League in February and is being tipped for a big season.
Guess who’s been nominated for the Golden Boy? That’s right, Diego Lainez!— Real Betis Balompié (@RealBetis_en) June 17, 2019
The #RealBetis Mexican player is among the candidates to this award that recognises the best U21 players who play in Europe pic.twitter.com/U99N7x52OQ
Bryan Gil (Sevilla)
Across the city at Sevilla, Bryan is getting fans excited. He became the first player born in the 21st century to score in the competition when he netted against Rayo Vallecano in April.
Bryan failed to start a league match last season, making more appearances (11) off the bench without lining up than any other player in LaLiga, while he also has the unenviable task of usurping Lucas Ocampos this season.
But under Julen Lopetegui – a coach renowned for trust in youth – he is expected to feature fairly regularly, having helped Spain to European Under-19 Championship success in the close season.
Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal)
The most established name on this list, Chukwueze played a crucial role in Villarreal's survival last season, with his winner at Girona in April kickstarting a run that returned 13 points from the final six matches of the campaign.
Of the youngest 20 players to feature in LaLiga in 2018-19, no player managed more appearances (26) or goals (five) than Chukwueze. He got eight in all competitions and ended the season in the Nigeria team at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Waldo Rubio (Real Valladolid)
Rubio may turn 24 on Saturday, but he only got his first taste of LaLiga football in April after being promoted from the club's B team. As with Chukwueze at Villarreal, he was central to Valladolid staying up.
The attacker played eight games from his debut until the end of the season, starting five, and netted a crucial winner against Athletic Bilbao in his side's penultimate home league match of the campaign.
Adria Pedrosa (Espanyol)
In theory, left-back Pedrosa might find it tougher to catch the eye than the attacking talents elsewhere in this list, but that was not the case last term.
Pedrosa started 12 games in all competitions in 2018-19, establishing himself as a starter towards the end of the season and putting his blistering pace to good use with a goal against Deportivo Alaves and an assist for Diego Godin's own goal against Atletico Madrid.
The 21-year-old has already scored a fine goal in Europa League qualifying this season, too.