Who is Álvaro Odriozola? The classy Sociedad youngster targeted by Barcelona and Real Madrid

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The Real Sociedad right-back has stood out for the San Sebastian side, and is a target for both LA Liga giants, writes Sam May.

Both clubs are currently working on their summer signings in order to improve ahead of the new season, and both are keen on the star. The 21-year-old, who is under contract until 2018, has €30 million release clause. It is understood he is yet to put pen to paper on a new deal as yet, following interest in him.

Barcelona are keen to fill their right-back position, with Aleix Vidal set to depart this summer and could make a move for the Odriozola, should they fail in their attempts to lure Héctor Bellerín to the Camp Nou. Meanwhile, Danilo is reportedly set for a move away from the Real Madrid and Los Blancos could make a move to fill the void.

But who is he?

He is probably the biggest surprise in Spanish football this season. Despite playing just 13 games in the top flight, he has excelled making a major impact. Since making his debut in January, he has been very impressive and has similar attributes to Héctor Bellerín.

Being an attack minded player, he started out as a right winger in the Sociedad reserves side, but moving to the right-back position – and making it his own. He provided four assists last season and is an intelligent player.

The Spain Under-21 international is the jewel in the crown of Sociedad’s youth academy. In 2013, his name appeared for the first time in the media when the club played in the Champions League and he featured for the Under-19s in the UEFA Youth League. In a game against Manchester United at Salford, the visitors won 1-0 with the goal coming from the right-back.

In an interview with El Diario Vasco, his former manager Beñat San José admitted: “He is a dream come true for any manager, he is well-educated, smart inside and outside the pitch, a good teammate and tactically and technically very gifted, always with a smile.

“His speed and ability with the ball helped him to dribble past players easily. But he is also fast as well in the decision-making process during a game, that is why he anticipates to many situations during the matches.”

Under 18 manager Iñaki Sena added: “Apart from his speed, pace and stamina, it is impressive his ability to keep the ball close to his feet while he is running. He is physically very strong, his endurance is out of this world and since I first saw him I knew he was going to make it.”

Nicknamed the “Quiet Man”, he was set to sign a new deal, but the fact both clubs have expressed interest in him has changed things. In six months time he will become a free agent. If he makes the decision of signing for a European giant, his current club will have to accept a bid lower than his buyout clause. Otherwise, they face losing him in January on a free. That would be a tragedy.

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