Mikel Oyarzabal has been one of the brightest talents in Spanish football over the last year. The Real Sociedad forward, despite only being 22, is one of the leaders for his current side and has earned his place amongst the senior Spain team. He scored his first goal against Sweden and will now join up with the U21 side for the Euros.
His outstanding performances for La Real haven't gone unnoticed by Barça. Ernesto Valverde considers him a priority signing ahead of the upcoming campaign. His pace, quality and finishing are all talents which suit the style of football the coach wants to play at the Camp Nou.
Tied down at Real Sociedad
Real Sociedad knew how good Oyarzabal was and got him to sign a five-year deal with a €70m buyout clause. This was after Basque rivals, Athletic Club, attempted to poach him away last summer. Atletico Madrid are another team who like the promising forward but don't feel a move is a realistic option at the moment.
Oyarzabal, for his part, wants to continue his development in the best conditions possible. When asked about possible interest from Valverde in the mixed zone, the youngster was keen not to create a story around his future ahead of a major tournament. "Right now I'm focused on the U21 side. We're about to start the tournament and that's all I'm thinking about."
His versatility in attack is something which puts him in a category of his own. Oyarzabal is capable of playing on either wing or down the middle and has shown he's got an eye for goal. His striking ability is fantastic, generating a lot of power with his shots, and he could have a bright future for the national team going forward.
The player doesn't want to talk about others and instead leaves such business to his agents. The most likely option is he'll remain with Real Sociedad for another year but, after that, he looks certain to make the step up to one of the bigger sides in Europe.
No doubt Oyarzabal will have seen how life has worked out for Alvaro Odriozola after he joined Real Madrid. It was perhaps a year too soon and the young full back has lost a season of regular football at a crucial time in his development.