There were certainly plenty of tears at the Nou Camp when talismanic Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi decided to bring his long association with the club to an end, but with one legend leaving, Barca fans have quickly latched on to potential legend in the making, Gavi.
The 17-year-old La Masia product moved to their famed Academy set up aged 11 from Real Betis, and his rise through the ranks has been dramatic. He was brought up to the Under 17 level whilst still only being aged 15, and then bypassed the next age group, moving straight to the Under 19’s. The technical, but tough tackling attacking midfielder, featured only three times for Barcelona’s B team before being snatched up for use by manager Xavi Hernandez’s first team squad.
Having made his debut in the early 2021/22 La Liga clash with Getafe as a late substitute in the 2-1 victory, four games later he was rewarded by the manager with his first start in the home win over Levante and he justified Hernandez’s faith in him by turning in a Man of the Match performance and in his 26 starts and 11 substitute appearances so far, he has contributed two goals and five assists to their season and for those who like a flutter, you would get good odds from someone like SportNation on him increasing that tally before the end of the season.
With him quickly gaining plaudits and adulation at the domestic level, he then became Spain’s youngest ever international aged just 17 years and 62 days as he announced himself on that stage – he now boasts six caps – and has added Champions League and Europa League experience to his list of quickly gained achievements.
Gavi’s own idol growing up as a young boy may well have been Andres Iniesta, but plenty of pundits and football journalist’s, such as Guillem Balague, know that Lionel Messi himself is a great comparison to make given his own emergence as a 17-year-old. The playing styles and individual strengths may well be different, but based on Gavi’s rise and progression so far, added to the clear career pathway he still has ahead of him, the parallels between both players are eminently obvious.
Given Gavi’s tender age and overall senior game experience, obviously there are also elements of his game that he still needs to work on. Many would already point to his positional sense during a match and say there needs to be clear improvement on that front.
That is not a criticism of his work rate or work ethic, as that should be applauded, along with the simple fact he never tries to hide on a pitch as that is definitely a positive given his tender age. But his desire and drive to be directly involved in play does see him drift an awful lot, and he definitely covers far more ground than is needed – so as he builds his experience and becomes a cleverer performer, he’ll better know when energy is needed to disrupt play, yet when to better conserve his energy so it can be used in more game changing moments.
Already contracted up at the club until 2023, but with a 15 million Euro buy out clause, Barcelona are already in the process of renegotiating his deal and there is no indication the youngster wants to move elsewhere – yet every indication he plans on being his own club legend in the very near future.