Name: Aarón Martín Caricol
Date of Birth: 22nd April 1997 (Age 19)
Position: Left Back
Career statistics (as of 14/01/2017):
Appearances for RCD Espanyol: 11 (876 minutes played)
Appearances for RCD Espanyol II: 36 (3153 minutes played)
Appearances at Spain U16, U17 and U19 level: 25
If you take one look around some of the biggest clubs in Europe, it soon becomes clear that Spain seem to have a habit of producing some of the finest defenders in the game. Whilst the best Spanish defenders traditionally tend to stay in Spain in their masses and ultimately apply their trade with one of the typical La Liga giants, more and more however do appear to be cropping throughout European football, making life even harder for national team manager Julen Lopetegui with such a talented group of defenders at his disposal.
Take the English Premier League for example and there is Arsenal’s highly rated Hector Belerín whilst Chelsea’s Spanish defensive duo of Cesar Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonso form part of a title-challenging side that have conceded just fifteen league goals so far this season at this time of writing, amongst many others in the English game. Likewise in the German Bundesliga both Juan Bernat and Marc Bartra fly the flag at Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund respectively and further illustrate the successes of the La Liga conveyer belt that continues to produce top-quality Spanish defenders year on year. Therefore I guess the question on the lips for many a football manager attempting to cash in on such a lucrative line of promising defenders is when and where will the next Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique or Daniel Carvajal appear? But whist I am unable to look into the future and certainly no genius, the answer may well be slowly forcing his way into contention at mid-table RCD Espanyol.
Aarón Martín Caricol known widely as just Aarón Martín is a promising nineteen year Spanish left back that has began to appear more and more at a professional level for club side RCD Espanyol this season. Since joining the club in 2005 at the age of eight, RCD Espanyol has been his home and a club where Martín has all of his younger playing years developing and going through every youth rank at the club. After making his senior debut with the club’s reserve team whilst still a junior club player in a 1-0 away defeat against local rivals Gimnàstic de Tarragona, the 5ft 11inches left back has to this date made thirty five appearances for his side’s reserve team and it therefore wasn’t going to be long until the promising left-back soon became in contention for a first-team start at his boyhood club.
Following his first senior goal during a 2-0 home win once again against local rivals but this time in the form of CF Reus Deportiu, a contract renewal in June 2016 and a commitment to the Spanish club until 2020 seemingly paved the way for Martín to make a name for himself this league campaign and consequently came on as a second-half substitute. Instead of a quick return to the bench and into the club’s reserve side, instead Martín has gone from strength to strength and is in many ways beginning to cement the left-back position as his own; approaching nearly nine hundred minutes in the RCD Espanyol this season with nine of his eleven appearances from inclusion in the club’s starting XI – impressive statistics for a relatively unknown left-back this time last year.
With regards to Aaron Martín’s style of play, time will tell whether or not the left back will make use of his strong dribbling skills and alter into more of a wing-back than the current left full back position that he has adopted at present. As a player that seems confident in possession of the ball as well as a left-back that is not afraid of crossing and playing the ball off the ground it would seem only natural that Martín may follow the modern-day trend of becoming an inverted wing back but in terms of his qualities at left-back, he shows every sign of following in the footsteps of Juan Bernat, Jose Gaya and Jordi Alba and becoming the next in an ever-growing list of exceptional left backs that Spain have produced in the last decade.
After making his professional league debut earlier this season, Martín stated to Catalan publication Mundo Deportivo that without his substitute appearance against Villarreal was ‘his reward for many years at the club’ before praising teammates and manager Quique Sanchez Flores for whom without them, his rapid rise to stardom would not have been possible. And whilst it may well have been Martín publically thanking those at RCD Espanyol for their faith and support during his time at the club ultimately leading to his introduction to the first team, the shoe may well be on the other foot in the not too distant future. If Aaron Martín can continue to develop as quickly and prosperously as has done in the past twelve months, the future looks bright for both the club and Martín individually and it may not be long until the big boys come knocking, in search of the next defensive diamond to emerge from the Spanish La Liga.