The Breakthrough Stories So Far In La Liga This Season
Despite the 22/23 La Liga season only being nine games in, many young stars have begun to make a name for themselves. Let’s take a look at five names who are making themselves known to everyone in Spanish football.
Iván Fresneda - Real Valladolid
18 year old Iván Fresneda’s breakthrough has been one of the success stories from a disappointing start to the season for Valladolid. Fresneda came on early against Girona in matchday five after an injury to Luis Perez and, after a string of impressive performances, has kept his place in Pacheta’s starting 11. The Spanish u19 international is consistent defensively, but also offers a lot going forward, including a dangerous crossing ability. Definitely one to look forward to watching throughout the remainder of this season as Valladolid fight for their survival.
Kang In Lee - Mallorca
A debatable one to put into this list having already been in the league for a few years, but this season was very much make or break for Kang-In. This is his second season at Mallorca after struggling to break into the starting lineup for most of last season. But the Korean international is looking like a changed man playing under Javier Aguirre, and he is flourishing in the system in which he plays up front next to Muriqi. His four contributions in nine games doesn’t tell the full story, he’s been Mallorca’s best player so far this season and impacts the game in so many different ways. He is quickly becoming a one to watch in La Liga.
Álex Balde - Barcelona
Álex Balde is a guy who featured in my pre-season preview of players to keep an eye on this season, but even to me, his start of this season has been ridiculously impressive. It’s not easy to make an immediate impact at Barcelona, but the 18 year old had no problems filling in for the injured Jordi Alba, registering three assists in his first six games and helping to keep five clean sheets in the process. Now Alba has returned, Balde is still in the starting 11, playing at right back and still performing at a high level.
Álex Baena - Villarreal
Not many La Liga fans were expecting Baena to get minutes for this season, but whilst Villarreal were struggling to complete a deal for Lo Celso, Baena came on against Getafe in the 63rd minute of matchday one, scoring twice to help secure three points for the Yellow Submarine. Since that moment, he’s been a regular in Emery’s side, making an appearance in every game so far this season in all competitions, including some highly impressive performances in the UEFA Conference League, scoring four and assisting one in four games so far in the competition. Baena is a very talented, creative midfielder and at only 21, has years left of improvement left in him. A gem of a find from Unai Emery.
Edgar González - Real Betis
Edgar is a 25 year old centre back who’s spent most of his career out of loan in and around the lower divisions of Spain, but after a few impressive appearances towards the end last season, Edgar has earned a regular spot in the team, and is repaying Pellegrini’s trust with some great performances. But with new signing Luiz Felipe forcing his way into the squad, González will need to stay at the top of his game in order to keep his place in Manuel Pellegrini’s side.
An added extra; because this is a very debatable one
Rodrygo - Real Madrid
Let’s finish off with a highly debatable one. To call Rodrygo a breakthrough star is definitely bold, given he’s made over 100 appearances for Madrid so far in his career. However this season Rodrygo has looked like a whole new player, since finally breaking into the starting lineup due to injuries to Benzema, Rodrygo has taken his opportunity brilliantly, finding his form in that false nine position. With his creative runs and brilliant finishing ability, he’s one of the main reasons as to why Madrid are doing so well this season. With eight contributions to his name already this season, it’s looking highly likely that he’ll keep his place in the team despite Benzema returning to full fitness, and with those extra minutes will come the opportunities to put up some remarkable stats.
29 games remain in this year's La Liga season, so there’s plenty of time for many more new names to emerge in Spanish football so check back at a later date for a second part.