8 of the Best La Liga Players You've Probably Never Heard of

Anybody in the world can tell you about Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. 

Go down the pub and you can probably get some Antoine Griezmann, Toni Kroos and even Steven N'zonzi stats thrown at you.

However, dig a little deeper and Spain's top flight is littered with top talent, of which all but the most ardent of UK-based football perverts are aware. 

Here's eight examples of non-Madrid or Barcelona stars who are tearing it up in the league that has provided seven of the last ten Champions League and Europa League winning teams.

Watch out for these guys in 2017. They could be coming to a club near you...

8. Fernando Pacheco (Alaves)

La Liga's: Jordan Pickford.

The Alaves stopper came through the ranks at Real Madrid but entered the pantheon of those discarded in favour of more expensive options.

A move to Alaves followed where the 24-year-old played almost every game as the Basques achieved promotion back to Spain's top tier.

The former Spain U21 has been something of revelation this season, keeping eight clean sheets and conceding 17 (the same as Barcelona), as Alaves, unbeaten in five, have defied expectations to sit a respectable 12th in the league so far.

Rumour has it, Real Madrid have kept a back-back clause in Pacheco's contract.

7. Pablo Fornals (Malaga)

La Liga's: Ross Barkley

The 20-year-old midfielder is one of a few exciting, young players on Malaga's books along with Venezuelan Juanpi and ex-Barcelona forward Sandro Ramirez.

A bright light in a disappointing season, Fornals may be the most interesting of Malaga's young lot, with a full international cap to his name already in Spain's 3-1 friendly win over Bosnia.

Unless new manager Marcelo Romero can turn around Malaga's season, the creative talent could join ex-Malaguista Isco in seeking pastures more successful.

6. Samu Castillejo (Villarreal)

La Liga's: Yannick Bolasie

Another graduate of Malaga's academy, 'el Fideo' (the noodle) was reportedly coveted by Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid before joining Villarreal in 2015.

The tricky 21-year-old winger has been one of the Yellow Submarine's star performers, as they push for Champions League qualification and Europa League glory this season.

5. Ruben Castro (Real Betis)

La Liga's: Jermain Defoe

Since 2012, very few have more La Liga goals than Ruben Castro. 

The experienced front man has scored double figures in each of his last five seasons, and netted a career best 19 league goals last season - at the age of 34, on Real Betis' first season back in La Liga.

While many are familiar with name Aritz Aduriz, not so many know Betis' record goalscorer.

4. Iñaki Williams (Athletic Bilbao)

La Liga's: Raheem Sterling

Iñaki Williams admittedly might be a name familiar to followers of the North London or Merseyside clubs.

Bilbao's speedy forward had been linked with a move to the Premier League, before signing a contract extension in the Basque country, which contained a possibly not off-putting enough €50m release clause.

The Spanish national was pursued by Ghana (the country of his father), before committing his future to his homeland and made his debut last year, as well as being named on the standby list by Vicente del Bosque for Euro 2016.

Williams scored 13 goals in all competitions last season but has struggled a little for form this term, netting just once in eight.

3. Nico Pareja (Sevilla)

La Liga's: Ashley Williams

32-year-old Pareja perhaps doesn't get the credit he deserves in Sevilla's high-flying team. 

However, the Argentine centre back has been a stalwart at the heart of a back three for the Andalusians this campaign, after recovering from a cruciate ligament injury that kept him out of all but two games of the 2015/16 campaign.

The former Espanyol and Spartak Moscow defender has two Europa Leagues to his name, as well as a full cap for Argentina

2. Wissam Ben Yedder (Sevilla)

La Liga's: Riyad Mahrez

Ben Yedder hit the headlines with an impressive hat trick in Sevilla's 0-4 win over Real Sociedad on January 7.

The strikes put the French attacking midfielder on ten for the season, along with two assists. He joined La Liga's second placed side from Toulouse (where he was prolific in Ligue 1 for four seasons) for a surprisingly reasonable €9m last summer 

Interestingly, 26-year-old Ben Yedder also has two caps for France's futsal side.

1. Mikel Oyarzabal (Real Sociedad)

La Liga's: Jesse Lingard

The 19-year-old Oyarzabal made his Spain debut alongside Fornals and Williams in Spain's friendly victory over Bosnia last year.

The Basque youngster debuted under David Moyes and scored an impressive six in his first season from out wide for Sociedad (including the winner against Barcelona), while he has four assists already this campaign.

While not lightning quick, Oyarzabal's natural skill, crossing and strength make him a classic winger, who can also contribute in a more central role. Antoine Griezmann is a common comparison due to the pair both starting their careers at Sociedad.

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