In the last two decades, Real Sociedad have earned a reputation as one of the most successful producers of young talents in the world. Xabi Alonso, Antoine Griezmann, Asier Illarramendi, Joseba Etxeberria and Iñigo Martínez all came through their famous Zubieta academy. Despite their pedigree when it comes to polishing raw diamonds, the Basques have not set La Liga alight in recent seasons but have stuck to their philosophy of giving academy players opportunities in their first team.
David Moyes gave Mikel Oyarzabal the chance to train with the senior side last summer However, getting there is only half the battle. But the 19-year-old attacking midfielder went further and made an impact in Real Sociedad's miraculous comeback during Eusebio Sacristan's tenure.
In almost four months, he scored six goals - among them, a winner against Barcelona – and became the youngest Sociedad player to make an international debut after catching the attention of Spain boss Vicente del Bosque. His astonishing left foot has earned him comparisons with Griezmann and according to Diario As, Real Sociedad's starlet is being scouted by Arsenal, Barcelona and Liverpool, according to AS. If he continues with his progression this season, his £34.5m release clause, according to Yahoo, will be considered a bargain in the coming months.
Is it fair to compare Oyarzabal with the European Championship's top scorer? Both Oyarzabal and Griezmann's first steps in professional football are similar, with the duo having been given their first opportunities at Sociedad on the left wing, despite the fact their skills were better suited to a central position.
As Griezmann showed from the early days as a professional, Oyarzabal has an instinct which allows him to be in the right place at the right time. His passing accuracy is outstanding, even in difficult situations, and is a constant threat at set-pieces as displayed against Barcelona last season.
He is almost infallible in one-on-one situations and even has the talent to create chances from any position. He also possesses plenty of pace particularly in possession. Regular onlookers will not be surprised by the interest of Europe's biggest clubs. Furthermore, the Basque, nicknamed 'bigfoot' due to his size 11.5 feet, was included in Uefa's newcomers eleven of the season. With less than a week remaining before the start of the new La Liga campaign, Oyarzabal is one of the most convincing reasons why Sociedad are among the candidates to qualify for Europe.
It is difficult to think he will not cope with the media pressure with reports already identifying him as Spanish football's most promising talent. The starlet is smart on and off the pitch. He is currently studying a Business Administration and Management degree in San Sebastian and is attending as many lessons as possible because, as he told Cadena Ser Radio Station: "You never know where you might end".
Athletic Club spotted his potential when he was 11-years-old but his parents decided he should continue his training at Eibar, where he was born, because he was too young to start taking his career seriously. For the same reason, he signed a new contract with Sociedad last February.
First, he wants to match what is expected of him in the team while finishing his studies. Though his upbringing is humble and his family is pragmatic, it will be difficult to avoid the spotlight if his world- class performances continue. Real Sociedad start their season against Real Madrid next Sunday (21 August). Will Zinedine Zidane be able to stop the Arsenal and Liverpool target, who is destined to lead Julen Lopetegi's revolution with Spain's national team?