There is always a feeling of great pride when a player rises from the youth ranks up into the first team, and in the last few seasons we’ve seen Koke, Domínguez, Rubén Pérez, De Gea, Joel and Camacho do just that.
Which of our up and coming talents could be next to debut at the Vicente Calderón?
At the end of last season, Alberto Noguera and Jorge Pulido were drafted into the first team by Quique Flores, with the latter especially making a good impression. Also on the bench we saw Borja, who is now getting a chance to play regular football in the second division with Murcia.
Noguera continues to play with the B-team and is arguably the star player, but there are many others who will surely be on the radar of Gregorio Manzano at this moment in time.
For the reserve side, a player who has really shone in the last year is defensive midfielder Fer. The 22-year-old is currently recovering from injury, but his commanding performances, intelligent positioning and range of passing have earned plenty of plaudits in recent months.
Last season the name on many fans lips was that of Sergio Marcos, another midfielder with excellent technique and playmaking abilities. However, he has been inexplicably restricted to a squad player’s role by Milinko Pantic this year, but certainly has the talent to play higher than the Segunda B in the future.
Our C-team is also home to some promising players, and two who were promoted to Atléti B in the summer, Pedro Martín and Sergio Cidoncha, have been among the best performers so far in the current campaign.
19-year-old Pedro has already caught the eye of Manzano, scoring six times in pre-season and even making the bench for both of the first-team’s Europa League qualifiers against Strømsgodset. At the moment he is the B-team’s joint top-scorer with three goals.
Cidoncha, on the other hand, is a central midfielder and set-piece specialist. He is seen as a ‘todocampista’ (all-round midfielder), with notable passing ability and tireless work rate.
However, the biggest hope from Pantic’s side is Saúl Ñíguez. He may only be 16, but this is his second season with the reserves, and he now seems to have established himself as a regular starter.
An international at Under-17 level, Saúl has great versatility and is capable of playing in midfield, on the wing or as a striker. He possesses phenomenal technique and vision, as well as useful physical attributes and balance on the ball.
Other players that may be worth keeping an eye on are teenage wingers Iván Sánchez and Momar N’Doye, 18 year-old youth team graduate Borja Galán, and striker José Collado.
Looking past Atleti B, there are a number of players throughout our various youth ranks that could have the potential to play at the highest level one day.
Right-back Javi Manquillo trained with the first team in pre-season and like Saúl has represented Spain’s Under-17 team, who have also recently called up teammates Borja Martínez and Iván Calero.
From the same team, striker Oli Torres earned rave reviews for his performances both in the Juvenil División de Honor and Under-17 Club World Cup last June. If he turns out to be half as good as a former striker with his name, then we may well have a player on our hands.
Atlético also have an impressive total of five players in the Spanish Under-16 squad at the moment, goalkeeper Santiago Canedo, defenders Alejandro Díez and Daniel Sánchez, midfielder Enrique Fajarnes and striker Roberto Núñez.
Dropping down all the way to Alevín level, two names that are already being talked about by many are the Obama twins Salomón and Federico, both just eleven years of age. Salomón especially is drawing attention, having scored a record breaking amount of goals in his short time at the club so far.
Of course it’s impossible to judge quite how a good player at this age to become, but the production line at the club does not look to be in short supply.
Which players do you think show the most promise? Are any of them capable of making the jump to the first team?