The Lionel Messi-shaped hole in LaLiga will not be easily filled but there is hope a new superstar can be found among the talented upcoming prospects in Spain.
After Messi left Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain, the Catalans are hoping Pedri can be their next poster boy with the 18-year-old already a central part of Ronald Koeman’s first-team.
Ansu Fati is also back from injury in a much-needed attacking boost for the Catalans, who managed 85 goals in LaLiga last season.
LaLiga will be without Lionel Messi after the forward left Barcelona for Paris Saint-Germain
Over in Madrid, Vinicius Jr has a big season ahead of him. Real are clearly desperate to bring Kylian Mbappe to the Bernabeu but with Messi now at the Parc des Princes, the Frenchman is not leaving Paris any time soon. Vinicius will be out to prove he can be the man to lead Real’s front line for years to come.
There are plenty of other exciting talents throughout the division, with Real Socidead hoping their youngsters can fire them into the Champions League this season.
As LaLiga prepares for its first campaign without Messi, Sportsmail takes a look at some of the young hopefuls who could be the next stars of Spain’s top flight.
Pedri is the man tasked with being the Catalans’ new poster boy and is one of the most exciting talents in LaLiga.
The midfielder played 4,996 minutes last season, turning out 73 times for club and country in his first full season for Barca.
He was back in training just five days after winning a silver medal with Spain at the Olympic Games. He also played all of Spain’s Euro 2020 matches, including extra-time in three knockout games.
The youngster, who is highly regarded by Ronald Koeman, will be looking to build on his three goals and three assists in the 2020-2021 campaign and will be given plenty of opportunties to do so.
Barcelona are hoping that Pedri can become their new poster in boy in Messi’s absence
Club: Real Sociedad
The Sweden international was hugely impressive in his second season in LaLiga, netting 17 times in 34 games before putting in promising performances at Euro 2020.
The striker has always carried an aerial threat but he also has pace and is technically gifted. He is on his way to becoming a more complete centre forward and there are high hopes he can have another successful campaign.
Sociedad finished fifth last season and will need their frontman on form if they are to push for a place in the Champions League.
Real Soceidad striker Alexander Isak was hugely impressive in his second season in LaLiga
Club: Atletico Madrid
The attacking midfielder has had two successful campaigns in LaLiga and played a part in Atletico Madrid’s title win last season – but you sense the best is still to come from the Portugal international.
Unfortunately for Atletico, Felix is set to miss the start of the season after undergoing surgery on an ankle injury in July, but he is expected to be back by September.
Atletico paid over £100million for Felix in 2019 and know he has the potential to be one of the best players in LaLiga. Last season he managed 10 goals and six assists in all competitions but he will be hoping for a bigger return this term.
Atletico Madrid will be hoping that the best is still yet to come from midfielder Joao Felix
The midfielder broke into Valencia’s first-team last season, making 32 appearances in LaLiga with 17 starts.
The American grew up in England and played in Arsenal’s academy from 2012 to 2019 before making the move to Spain.
He also won caps for England from U15-19 level but accepted a call-up from the United States in November 2020 and made his senior international debut in the same month.
Musah mainly plays on the right side of midfield but can also operate in the centre and his pace and balance on the ball makes him exciting to watch.
Yunus Musah broke into Valencia’s first-team last season and made 32 appearances
Club: Real Madrid
The forward may not have set LaLiga alight yet but he is well thought of by Real Madrid’s coaches and president Florentino Perez.
The Brazilian managed six goals and seven assists in all competitions last term and will know he will have to produce a greater return this season if he is to cement his place at the club.
Carlo Ancelotti is determined to get the best out of the youngster and he will have the chance to demonstrate he is the man who can lead the line for Real for years to come. Real managed 116 goals during Ancelotti’s last season at the club – no other side has scored more since.
Real Madrid striker Vinicius Jr needs to ensure he has a good season at the Bernabeu
The winger became the youngest person to win the Europa League when Villarreal beat Manchester United on penalties in May and the Spaniard will be hoping it was the first of many trophies to come.
Pino missed the start of last season through Covid but looked fired up during Villarreal’s UEFA Super Cup defeat by Chelsea and will be looking to make a quick start to the new campaign.
The pacy winger gave Marcos Alonso a difficult battle and will cause LaLiga full-backs problems going forward this season.
Villarreal’s Yeremi Pino became the youngest person to win the Europa League last season
Club: Athletic Bilbao
The attacking midfielder earned his promotion to the first-team in the second half of the 2019-2020 season and his performances ensured he was part of the fold in the following campaign.
The Spain U21 international became the first player to be born in 2000 to score for Athletic Bilbao and will be hoping to add to his tally this season.
Sancet’s strength is his dribbling and his ability to drive at defenders – something fans will be hoping to see more of in stadiums this year.
Oihan Sancet became the first player born in 2000 to score for Athletic Bilbao last year
Barca rate the forward so highly they inserted a £367m release clause into his new five-year contract last season and reportedly rejected a bid of £137m from an unnamed club.
Fati had scored four goals in seven games at the start of last season before his campaign was cruelly ended by a knee injury.
But the youngster is back fit again and the Catalans will be desperate for him to light up the Nou Camp following Messi’s departure.
Ansu Fati is fit again and Barca will be desperate for the forward to light up the Nou Camp
Club: Real Sociedad
The winger has already drawn comparisons to Messi because of his pace, small stature and dribbling ability.
There is a lot of hype around Barrenetxea, who is the latest in a long line of youngsters to progress from Sociedad’s academy. Many believe Berrenetxea has the potential to be the best the club have produced in recent years.
The Spaniard scored three goals in 31 games last season but will be looking to improve on that number this term.
Ander Barrenetxea has already drawn comparisons to Messi because of his pace and dribbling
Club: Real Madrid
The midfielder made a promising start to last season with three goals and an assist in his first eight games but he saw the second half of his campaign disrupted by injuries and Covid.
The Uruguay international was one of the few young players who broke into Zinedine Zidane’s fold and avoided being sent out on loan.
He will be hoping Carlo Ancelotti shows the same faith in him and that he can enjoy an injury free campaign. At the age of 23, Valverde needs a big season and show he can cement a place in Real’s midfield.
Federico Valverde was one of the few young players to break into Zinedine Zidane’s team
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