Five players to watch ahead of the new La Liga season

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A league riddled with an abundance of talent, La Liga kicks off this weekend with its prised assets - Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo - likely to headline the new season.

However, so often is it the case that a few hidden gems unveil themselves throughout the season, with the following five players such individuals who could well prove themselves as one to keep a look out for:

Yehven Konoplyanka

The dynamic Ukrainian, recently snapped up by Seville, led Dnipro to the Europa League final last season before eventually losing out to Unai Emery’s side. Los Rojiblancos were quick to pounce, landing the 25-year-old on a free transfer after his contract had expired.


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His quick feet, speed and quality on the ball are sure to bring excitement to the Spanish side as Seville go in search of building upon last season’s fifth-placed finish in La Liga.

Konoplyanka netted 45 times for Dnipro in 156 appearances over an eight-year period. Emery’s acquisition of the Ukrainian adds to an already powerful-looking attack with more domestic and European success on the agenda.

Inaki Williams

The exciting, speedy 21-year-old really came to the fore during the second-half of last season, most memorably catching the eye with an excellent headed goal in the Copa Del Rey final against Barcelona.

Athletic Bilbao have struggled in front of goal since the departure of Fernando Llorente to Juventus in 2013, but Williams’ strength and prowess give Ernesto Valverde a much-needed additional attacking option.

There are speculative rumours linking Llorente with a sensational return to the San Mames, and if Athletic were able to pull of the audacious re-signing, the pair could prove to be quite the duo upfront this season.

Jose Gaya

In keeping with tradition, Jose Gaya is the latest Valencia academy product to emerge with undoubted potential and blistering pace. The left-back is understudy to Barcelona’s Jordi Alba and more recently to Bayern Munich’s Juan Bernat, but could be considered the best of an extremely talented bunch.

The modern game requires full-backs who are able to go both ways - defend resolutely and attack with desire. The 21-year-old contains all the ingredients to become an exciting talent in La Liga this season and could prove pivotal in Valencia’s quest to recapture domestic and European success.

Luciano Vietto

Fernando Torres, Sergio Aguero, Radamel Falcao and Diego Costa - Atletico Madrid fans are used to having world class strikers at the Vicente Calderon over the past decade, and with the departure of Mario Mandzukic in the summer, young Argentine Luciano Vietto could be next on the list.

Alongside fellow summer rival Jackson Martinez, 21-year-old Vietto will be a key part of another La Liga push under Diego Simeone. Adept at finishing and playing years above his tender age, Vietto has 38 goals in 85 starts in all competitions, and was one of the top performing young players in La Liga last season with Villarreal.

Part of an exciting attacking front line, Vietto will be eager to impress in order to become a regular in the Atletico first-team this season. The intensity of his involvement will depend on Simeone's preferred style and the success of his side both domestically and in Europe.

Aymeric Laporte

Attracting interest from Manchester United in January was a mark of the improvement and worth of Aymeric Laporte to the Athletic Bilbao cause. The 21-year-old French centre-half caught the eye last term with a string of impressive performances as Bilbao finished seventh, qualifying for the Europa League.

Comfortable in possession, the quick and strong Laporte was a regular for Bilbao at just 18, despite receiving two red cards in his first 15 games for the club.

Aside from a few hesitant moments, which you can forgive for someone so young, Laporte’s positional sense and reading of the game improved dramatically over a 33-game season with Bilbao, and further strides over the next 12 months in La Liga are sure to see more clubs come calling.

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