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Bellingham during the Serbia-England match on Sunday. EP
The young stars of the Euros
A look at La Liga

The young stars of the Euros

La Liga players Bellingham, Arda Güler, Lamine Yamal and now Mbappé are all shining for their respective national teams in Germany

Friday, 21 June 2024, 11:09

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It’s time for the marketing department at La Liga HQ to cast off the veil of modesty and rejoice in the stars who are headlining at the Euros.

I’ve often said that the main difference between the Premier League and the Spanish league is the marketing and promotion of the product and players.

We are on the verge of another Galáctico age with the signing of Kylian Mbappé, who is widely regarded as the best player in the world right now, but he’s not going to be alone in the world-class category. I’d argue that La Liga will have more superstars than the English equivalent going forwards.

Jude Bellingham is continuing his incredible form from Real Madrid’s double-winning season with his national team. It’s a chance for those back home, where La Liga doesn’t have previous visibility, to see just what a jewel there is in the English crown. It’s incredible that he’s only 20.

What’s more incredible is the fact that his club have another superstar in the making who is a year younger. Real Madrid knew what they were doing when they offered Arda Güler a six-year contract. For the first nine months, he was largely anonymous due to a succession of injuries; he didn’t make his debut until January. By the end of the season, his stats were Bellingham-like as he scored six goals in 10 league matches. His goals-to-minute ratio was even better than the Englishman as he scored five in his last five.

Güler entered the wider conscience with a sensational European Championship introduction. His spectacular goal against the Czech Republic set a record as the youngest debutant scorer in the tournament. He became only the third teenager to score on his Euros debut, the last one was Cristiano Ronaldo 20 years ago - when Güler wasn’t born.

Of course, there’s even younger talent than the Turkish starlet lighting up the German stadia. Lamine Yamal is still only 16, yet he’s the star of the Spanish national team. I’m lucky to have commentated on many of his games since his Barcelona lift-off but I still double-check his age every time. The teenager is linking up with another emerging talent in Nico Williams. The 21-year-old is on the radar of every major club in Europe after starring for Athletic Bilbao.

It’s not just the kids who are showing their class. Dani Carvajal is adding to the legend of scoring a vital goal in the Champions League final with another in Spain’s opener against Croatia.

İlkay Gündoğan cut a figure of frustration as he adapted to life at Barcelona last season. It was difficult for him to truly impose himself in a team of players who are learning their trade. With Germany he’s surrounded by players at the other end of their career spectrum; in fact, he’s alongside Toni Kroos who is on his farewell tour.

The host nation also has Antonio Rüdiger. A year ago he was an alternate centre-back at Real Madrid, now I’d argue that he’s the best central defender in the world. He was immense as the others in his position struggled with injury last season.

There are even more players from La Liga doing their countries proud, and soon we’ll have Copa América starring Vini Junior and the next-big-thing Endrick.

It’s time for the marketing folk at La Liga to recognise just what they have at their fingertips - if you have it, flaunt it.

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