Gavi, the 17-year-old player. / EFE

Times are changing in Spanish football

Teenagers are getting fast-tracked into first teams as clubs can't afford to pay inflated wages and prices for imported talent

ROB PALMER

If I had a euro for every comment about how "Spanish football is finished..." I'd have enough to pay off Barcelona's crippling debt.

It could be quite the opposite, and these could be the first days of a Spanish football revolution which will see them rule Europe and even the world again.

The upside of Real Madrid no longer buying the best talent on the planet and Barcelona having to rely on academy graduates is the development of some very special young players.

Teenagers are getting fast-tracked into first teams as clubs can't afford to pay inflated wages and prices for imported talent. Kids who would be working their way through the development system have a pathway to the first team and national team.

Back in May, Spanish football fans were despondent and were preparing to write off the chances at the Euros. Six months later, they have enjoyed success in the summer championships by reaching the semi-finals, followed by Olympic Silver, and then the Nations League final.

New heroes have emerged, mainly from the youth teams. Pedri was the first to show that a footballer can go from raw rookie to established international status in a matter of months. This season we have seen the emergence of Gavi, the 17-year-old sensation at Barcelona. After starting just three Liga games for his club, he started two for his country. They happened to be against the European champions and then the world champions. He more than held his own against both.

Following those two was another teenager. Yeremi Pino is still 18 and had most people googling his name when he appeared on the Spain teamsheet for the Nations League semi and final. They'd discover that he's the youngest Spaniard to start in a major European cup final. He was an integral part of the team that beat Manchester United in the Europa League climax last season.

Yeremi took the record from Casillas. The former Real Madrid goalkeeper is the perfect example of a player who was given an opportunity as a youngster and then went on to play at the very highest level for a decade.

Ansu Fati is yet another teenager will soon make an eagerly -awaited comeback, Eric García is 20, Ferran Torres is a year older, Rodri is an absolute veteran at 25 and Mikel Oyarzabal is an incredibly mature 24-year-old.

Oyarzabal must be the most accomplished player to yet sign for a so-called leading European club. He was a stand-out player at the Euros then scored in the Olympic and Nations League finals.

These young players are accomplishing at an incredibly young age. There are smacks of Manchester United in the early nineties when they won plenty with kids. Luis Enrique is bravely following the example of Sir Alex Ferguson.

Maybe the key is integrating the experienced players. Sergio Busquets looks revitalised when he plays for his country. Sergio Ramos still hasn't officially retired from international football. If they can get fit, Dani Carvajal and Marco Asensio may bring some Real Madrid representation to the national team.

Yes, times are changing in Spanish football and the revolution has only just begun.