The BBC predicted the new Xavi, Xabi Alonso & Iniesta in 2013: where are they now?

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A young player can never just be that anymore; a young player, making their way in the game. No, these days they all have to be compared to somebody else, somebody older that's already carved a niche out for themselves in the spirit of 'been there, done that'.

In England it's rife, but seemingly unsatisfied with keeping it to our own players, the BBC, back in 2013 decided to extend it to Spain and their youngsters.

At the time, Spain were still the international side to beat, having undergone a stylistic revolution leading to consecutive European Championship and World Cup victories in 2008 and 2012.

This was also prompted by Spain lifting the under-21 European Championship that same year, suggesting that there was a host of ready-made stars to step up and replace the established veterans.

At the time, Xavi was 33, Alonso was 31 and Iniesta was still a sprightly 29, but the latter is still playing for La Roja despite now being 32.

It's now the time to take a look back and see who these young pretenders were and whether these predictions came true.

In fairness, two of the predictions came true, though not in the way that many had hoped, while there is still hope for the third, it's very likely that the moment has passed for this particular player.

The young pretenders

The new Xavi: Thiago Alcantara

Now 25, Alcantara came through the ranks of Barcelona's La Masia and was expected to be a future superstar. Though he is still a highly competent midfield operator with 17 caps to his name, it hasn't quite gone the way many thought it would for the Italian-born midfielder.

In 2013 he left Spain altogether to go and try his luck in Germany with Bayern Munich. However, a series of injuries have curtailed his progress and there is a feeling that he may have already peaked.

The new Iniesta: Isco

So much was expected of Isco when he left the confines of Valencia in order to join Malaga in 2011, and for two years he was showing everybody just how exciting he was going to be.

But like most youngsters, he was seduced by the bright lights of a bigger club and headed for Real Madrid in the summer of 2013, where he has been in and out of the side ever since. Still, that hasn't stopped him from picking up 14 caps of his own, but at 24 he really should have a few more by now.

The new Xabi Alonso: Asier Illarramendi

Oh dear, it didn't quite go according to plan for Illarramendi at all. He's by no means a bad player, but another example of being found out early and being sent back to his level. Having established himself at Real Sociedad, he got his dream move to Real Madrid in 2013.

However, with too many options ahead of him, he was given the chance to return to San Sebastien and resume his place in their midfield. Sadly for him, though, he doesn't have a single cap with the senior side to his name.

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La Liga
Real Madrid
Andres Iniesta
Spain Football
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