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Mikel Oyarzabal - Why the Real Sociedad young gun is a star of the future

With Real Sociedad finishing ninth in La Liga last season, the rise of youngster Mikel Oyarzabal has been a massive boost for fans at the Anoeta Stadium.

Despite a shocking start to the campaign which led the side to the relegation zone under David Moyes, the Basque club would not be complaining with a mid-table finish.

A season for many Real Sociedad fans to forget, as manager Moyes picked up two league wins out of 11 before he was sacked. But the focus turns to Oyarzabal. The 19-year-old scored six goals and provided one assist during his first senior season at the club.

It's quite unknown but Oyarzabal spent his academy time at SD Eibar, a club that have been quite popular with producing young talents in recent years. Whilst moving through the ranks of youth level at Real Sociedad, he only had to make 10 appearances for the reserve squad before being promoted to the first team.

His performances led to a call-up to the Spain under-19 squad and subsequently to the senior team this year, coming on as a second-half substitute against Bosnia-Herzegovina in May.

Not only that, Sociedad imminently gave him a contract extension until 2021 to make sure none of the bigger clubs in Spain snatch him away, especially rivals Athletic Bilbao, who started gathering interest before the January window.

Luckily for Oyarzabal, his parents have been making the decisions regarding his career, so he will definitely trust them to help him make the right choices.

"I see him grow from day to day. Everything that he brings to the side is positive and as a coach I'm very happy with him," were the words of Eusebio Sacristan, when he finished the rest of the season as Real Sociedad's head coach.

Not a surprise as the attacker scored more goals than Carlos Vela, despite playing 1250 minutes less than the Mexican striker.

After an impressive season, it's no question he will play a big role in Sociedad's plans for next season. Oyarzabal received his chances to play in a few positions on the pitch, but analysed properly it appears that he's very effective as a left winger.

For a player who is short in stature compared to the rest of the squad, he's capable of having a deadly shot on sight with his left foot alongside a quality technique and impressive vision to pick out a pass from small spaces.

During his breakthrough into the Real Sociedad senior team, Oyarzabal has already created comparisons to Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann.

Both actually have a similar style of play, with the youngster generally preferring to cut into the central area, which could lead to the 19-year-old playing as a central attacking midfielder or off-the-shoulder striker in the future. Also being a danger man from set pieces, overall he has the abilities to turn into a regular goal-scoring midfielder for La Real.

A moment that shone through for Oyarzabal was when he gave Real Sociedad the lead against Barcelona in April, five minutes into the game, which turned out to be the match-winning goal.

Fans in the stadium felt like a new hero had risen, as he went on to picking up crucial goals against Rayo Vallecano and Valencia in the last fixtures of the season. These act of heroism surely helped the Basque side through a tough season while catching the attention of many clubs in Europe.

Development-wise it would be ideal for the winger to stay at the club and reject any offers he receives from outside parties this summer. While Oyarzabal is still young, he should not waste away the formative years off his fledgling career as a squad player with a top side, but should focus on becoming a key individual in Sociedad.

Then the world can be his oyster.

Mikel Oyarzabal

Current club:
Real Sociedad

Age: 19

DOB: 21 April, 1997

Position: Attacking midfielder / left winger

Country: Spain

About the author

Asif Norat

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