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Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atlético: Rodrygo, Ansu Fati, João Félix...


Football is, among other things, part of the entertainment industry. For that reason, it's a business that depends on fresh stars coming through, just as the film and music worlds do. This is particularly true of the Spanish game, where something of a changing of the guard is underway. Cristiano Ronaldo has departed Real Madrid. Lionel Messi is still at Barcelona and long may that be the case, but Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta are gone, and without them the Blaugrana are incapable of hitting the same heights. At Atlético Madrid, the bulk of the battle-hardened group that Diego Simeone led to trophy triumphs has gradually left. LaLiga's big three are undergoing a process of renewal, and the emergence of Rodrygo Goes, Ansu Fati and João Félix is just what the doctor ordered.

Rodrygo, Fati and Félix look key to clubs' mid-term futures

Félix arrived with the biggest billing of the three, joining Atleti for top dollar. From what we saw of him at Benfica, he's clearly a huge talent who could achieve great things... but we've only had glimpses of that here. His impact has been hit by injury, albeit one that won't keep him out for long. Rodrygo was less well-known, but hardly came cheap, either. He arrived at Madrid almost as if pulled along in the slipstream of Vinicius Júnior, whose running with ball at feet offered cause for optimism among a fan base in need of cheering up last term. However, Vinicius' end product still leaves a lot to be desired, Zinedine Zidane doesn't have huge faith in him and, in Gareth Bale's ongoing absence, the coach has turned to Rodrygo. His style is less eye-catching than his compatriot's, but he's supremely clinical.

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And then there's Ansu Fati, a lad getting his game for Barça despite only turning 17 a month ago. He's already up alongside Ousmane Dembélé in the pecking order, and you can't help yearning for him when we see Antoine Griezmann on that left flank. As the youngest of the three newcomers, he seems to have the most potential. Together, Fati, Rodrygo and Félix are a trio who, moving forward, can only serve to boost the interest LaLiga generates. Each gives his club's supporters reason for excitement, and appears to herald the dawn of a new era. Having seen the bar raised by those who have come before them, their task now is to take that next, definitive step in their careers. At least in part, the mid-term futures of Spain's three most prominent clubs depend on how things turn out for these starlets.