La Masia: Álvaro Sanz

With so many promising midfielders, particularly defensive midfielders, in the ranks of La Masia, some with great potential are bound to get lost in all the excitement. With Jandro Orellana playing the same position at Juvenil A, it could be argued that Álvaro Sanz isn't even the most talked about defensive midfielder on his own team. Yet, the 17-year-old Sanz has excelled as he continues to bring his calm presence, great work ethic and organization in the center of the pitch to a team brimming with potential stars.

Born on February 14, 2001 in the small town of Caspe in Zaragoza, Álvaro Sanz Catalán was spotted by the biggest club in the region at a young age and made his way through the ranks. It wasn't long before Barcelona took notice and in 2014 the club signed the youngster. He stayed at Zaragoza to finish the season before making the move with teammate Antonio Sola, who is still his teammate at Juvenil A.

Back in his Cadet B days, he started in a midfield alongside Nico González and Manchester City's Adrián Bernabé, two outstanding attacking midfielders. His ability to be the metronome of the midfield behind his other central midfielders blossomed at this stage, though he did add the occasional goal as well.

As he moved up through the ranks his midfielder partners would change, but Sanz remained at the base of the midfield regardless of who lined up next to him. Last season he cracked the squad for the UEFA Youth League, staying on the bench in December of 2017 in a match against Sporting CP. Being a part of the team won him a UEFA Youth League title alongside Riqui Puig, Abel Ruiz and the rest, but he would have to wait until this season to really make his mark in the competition. After coming off the bench in the first match against PSV, Sanz started four of the other group stage games, going the full 90 minutes against Inter and PSV the second time around.

It's not just at club level that he is being noticed. The midfielder was a member of the Spain U-17s, making three appearances and looking like he could play a role at a major competition before a knee injury forced him to miss the 2018 UEFA European U-17 Championship. He didn't have to wait long to be incorporated back into the national team set-up as he received his Spain U-18 debut under David Gordo in November and has since made appearances in four friendlies, adding a goal for good measure. His progress for club and country is noticeable and the future of Álvaro Sanz is one to keep an eye on.