Young guns as Espanyol’s blue print starts to take shape

We’ve reached the half-way stage of the season, and a re-vamped Espanyol continue to defy the odds in Division 1, as they currently sit 9th with just 6 defeats this season. With a free-hit season in the bag after last seasons astonishing 6th place finish, we take a look at the young guns hoping to shape the clubs future.

Ashley Phillips

Having turned just 17 in June, its been a breakout season for the England under 17 international as he has started Blackburn Rovers last 5 games at centre back. Yet to pen his first pro-deal the exciting centre back who stands at a remarkable 6ft 4, and continues to grow is currently being chased by Spurs, Chelsea and Manchester United who all want to secure the teenage centre back prior to the closure of the transfer window next week. Rovers are currently locked in talks over a better offer of a contract after the previously agreed deal which was due to kick in on his 17th birthday, has been subject to negotiation after the player received international honours for England last season. Phillips was a player very much on Espanyol’s radar last season, and when the opportunity came, Espanyol spent big to secure the youngster as Rincon and exciting young forward Sima headed to Italy to aid securing at the time a player yet experience first team football. He has recently got his first sm rise which was a modest plus 5, however his stock is rising and with huge things expected, it would take a massive offer for Espanyol to consider parting with one of the most talked about teenagers outside the Premiership in England


The Argentine wonderkid is currently being chased by Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea and AC Milan as Europe’s giants look to try and secure a player who is already being touted to be Lionel Messi’s long term successor as the darling of Argentina. Its incredible that despite only being 16 and not 17 until next year that the exciting teenager is already playing first team football in the top flight of Argentina. The Velez Sarzfield star is the youngest player to ever play first team football for Velez and is the second youngest player of all time to play in the top flight in Argentina, 2nd only to the one and only “Sergio Aguero”. “We’ve had a few enquiries for Prestianni, since he arrived, but some of the offers have been completely laughable and if anything insult my intelligence. He is certainly the jewel of the crown within my youth team, and with his age has the potential to be one of the very best. He is impressing at international level in the lower age groups, and is very much the star of the Argentina’s under 17’s. We expect the interest to get larger for the player over the next couple of seasons, but like Phillips he is one we won’t be letting go on the cheap, and at present his potential is priceless”


Having just turned 18 and currently plying his trade in Germany with Hannover, the Italian striker is catching the eye with 4 appearances already this season for Hannover’s first team. He signed his first professional contract last week, and is already being touted as one to watch. Tresoldi had been on the radar for a while, however Espanyol were forced to make a move after Chelsea placed a bid last week. Fortunately the player opted for Espanyol and its a capture the manager is pleased with. “Nicola is a clever player, he can play in that 10, as he has excellent vision and can pick a pass out. He is very quick also and is equally at home playing in the number 9 role and leading the attack. Germany has been a hotbed for talent breaking through, and at only 18 he has time on his side to potentially become a big asset for this football club as time evolves.


Having not long turned 20 the German under 21 international is one very much under the radar a little in top 100 for Espanyol. Currently our on load at Werder Bremen in Top 100 to aid their youth cup side, the exciting youngster is already building up a big reputation in Germany’s top flight with his exceptional performances for Koln. Theilmann has already amassed 75 appearances for Koln and has played at Every level for Germany bar the full national team, which he is currently on the brink of. This year is was nominated for the “Golden boy” award which is an award given to the best under 21 player in Europe, which shows how much his stock is rising. Theilmann Joined Espanyol from Liverpool along side Galeno and Amoo in a deal, which saw Wjnaldrum head to Anfield. It was at the time quite a large price given the high rating the Wjnaldrum has. “We had one thought on our mind over the close season, and that was to rebuild the youth team with exciting players. Theilmann ticked those boxes and is probably in terms of where he is right now in his career ahead of many of our young players. We really rate him, and are a little surprised we’ve had no enquiries for him, given his stock in Germany. His versatility of being able to play down both wings and anywhere in the forward position, gives us some real options as he starts to get the upgrades which eventually puts him in our first team picture. We do have an eye on the youth cup next season, and if we secure an under 21 goalkeeper, its a competition we are likely to enter, and Thielmann will be a great player to have available for us”


Daniliuc who plays for Nice in real life is a defender with a big future. Comfortable in any position across the back, but also as a holding midfielder, he has become a fixture in the Nice side, whilst also playing at every level for Austria. Espanyol have some decent defensive prospects but Daniliuc is the one which the club hold the highest hope for, to progress into being one day a 90 plus defender. “He is another we paid big for parting with Alonso, our first choice left back to secure. We are not afraid to part with first team players for youngsters, as we look at the bigger picture and try to offer value to the selling club. We have had a couple of enquiries for him, and although he is currently out on loan from us at Hamburger we can’t say “never” if the an offer comes in which meets our valuation. Given what we paid for him, this should warn teams off, that we won’t be giving our best young players away”


Kokcu arrived yesterday after a deal was agreed with Standard Liege a few weeks ago. Despite being only 21, he already has 16 full caps for Turkey, and is currently being linked with big money moves away from parent club Feyenoord. Kokcu is a central midfield player who can plays the anchor role to perfection. His passing range, ability to assist, and ability to score goals makes him a stand-out signing for us. Although still classed as a youth player, he will go straight into our starting line up, to play with Douglas Luiz. I’ve secured some players in top 100, but this capture is one of the ones I’m most pleased with. It ticks all the right boxes, in terms of age, sell on value, and improvement potential. I’m pretty sure once his transferban is up we will start receiving offers for him. However he is part of the long term plan, and its highly unlikely now we’ve secured him, that we’d entertain selling him”


Another captured from Standard Liege, the Spanish under 21 star was one of our main targets this close season. Despite playing 37 games for Barcelona in real life last season, he opted to push for a loan move to ensure he continued to play regular first team football and will this season play for Valencia in La Liga and has already made a good start for them. Barcelona rate him very highly and have an astonishing £500 Million buy-out clause in his contract. He is still only 20 and a Spanish under 21 international, with great potential to become a big player for the Spain first team in the years to come. He is already in and around our first team, and we are excited to have him. Its not often I sign a player who I will not consider selling, but at present he falls in the bracket. He alongside the likes of Kokcu and Vencedor are the long term future of our midfield engine room, and its very exciting”


Vencedor became the first deal we have done with Barcelona as he swapped places with Fofana, a player we rated very highly earlier this month. He has already made starts for us in division 1, whilst also scoring his first goal. Despite being only 21 and a current spanish under 21 international Vencedor has already amassed 134 appearances for Athletic Bilbao. We were thrilled when Barcelona said yes to our proposal and his presence in our youth team, is really starting to give it a strong look. We look forward to seeing how he progresses over the next 12 months and could prove to be one of the best deals we’ve ever pulled off.


Another Argentine wonderkid, he recently made a big money move to Genk. An attacking midfielder who the craft of unlocking defences, his move to Belgium was certainly a bonus for us having secured him for very little money prior to his rise. He is very much now in the shop window in Europe and has the potential to step up to become a full international for Argentina. His is a player we had some enquiries for prior to his move to Genk, and I’m sure those calls will become louder over the next 12 months. The issue with youth players on SM, Is so many other Managers want to offer more youth for them, or put low ball offers in, hoping you’ve had one too many beers before answering the bid. Galarza is up there with Prestianni of being a key talent for us, and only an offer we cannot refuse would see us let him go. We are trying to build for the future and don’t need to sell anyone right now, especially for droppers or players with nowhere near as much potential. I like Galarza and look forwards to see him move up through the ratings.


Lopez was a big target for us for a while, and we was delighted when we struck a deal with Chelsea. Although we are awaiting to complete the deal, his big money move to Palmeiras this summer shows how highly he is rated in South America. He will add quality to the youth team, and with the likes of Dzeko coming to the end of their careers, we are hopeful over the next couple of seasons, he will progress enough to become part of the first team squad. There is never any guarantee’s with South American footballers, but the fact he has swapped the Argentina league for the Brazilian one, shows he is rated high enough in South America to become a real player.

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