Five of Atlético’s most talented prospects were playing in the annual Copa Atlántico tournament this week, as Spain’s Under-18 side added yet another trophy to their stunning recent haul.
Held in Gran Canaria, Saúl Ñíguez and Javier Manquillo from Atlético B and Óliver Torres, Dani Márquez and David Gil from Juvenil A, all featured as Julien Lopetegui’s team won the competition for the sixth year running.
Playmaker Óliver was named the best player of the competition, and Saúl had the honour of lifting the trophy following a series of faultless midfield performances, leading to his appointment as the team’s captain.
Right-back sensation Javi Manquillo had an important part to play as well, starting twice and setting up the opening goal in Friday’s match after a typical burst forward. Dani Márquez and David Gil also played their part, starting one game each.
La Rojita played three times in the four-day tournament, winning each game by the same 2-0 scoreline against Denmark, a Canarias XI and Russia respectively.
Real Madrid striker Raúl de Tomás swept the Golden boot award with three goals overall, but it was the diminutive Óliver who received most of the attention. One of few players to start all three games, Oli carried his club form onto the international stage, causing constant havoc thanks to his combination of quick feet and vision.
Saúl, on the other hand, has played mostly as a winger for Atlético B but showed experience beyond his years in a holding midfield role for Spain, suggesting that his future could be in a more central position.
He was recently joined in the reserve side by Manquillo, who has already gone a step further by debuting in the first team and could next year be playing alongside a whole host of talent from our all-conquering Juvenil A side.
With a growing number of players in the national teams at Under-16, Under-17 and Under-18 level, could we be about to witness a golden generation at Atleti?