It’s been some tough past years for FC Barcelona. The Spanish giants have literally gone from competing for domestic and continental honours to being on the verge of elimination from the Champions League and struggling in the La Liga. However, there is hope for the club with the new generation of talent coming in from La Masia which includes a 17-year-old midfielder named Gavi.
Pablo Martin Paez Gavira famously known as Gavi has become an important part of the Catalans set-up this season. And the player has taken the opportunity with both hands.
His debut season comes at a very precarious time for the club when they are in financial constraints and are learning to live without Lionel Messi.
And the financial state of the club means that Barcelona desperately wants these kids from La Masia to succeed which in turn make sure that the team does not have to spend millions to recruit world-class talent from elsewhere.
17 – With 17 years and 49 days, Gavi has been the second youngest player to make his debut as starter for @FCBarcelona in the 21st century in #LaLiga, only surpassed by Ansu Fati (16 years and 318 days). Early. pic.twitter.com/NmMnNOJQK7
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) September 23, 2021
PLAYING CAREER SO FAR
Gavi was born on August 5, 2004 in Los Palacios y Villafranca, Spain and joined local club Liara Balompie before moving to Real Betis youth academy. He spent just a year at the club before being snapped up by Barcelona in 2015 at the age of 11.
After working his way up the youth system and after signing his first professional contract with Barcelona was promoted to the under-19 team and then the Barcelona B side.
His mercurial rise caught the attention of then first-team coach Ronald Koeman who called Gavi along with several other players from La Masia to fill the gaps in the squad for the upcoming season.
In fact, he is the second-youngest player to play for Barcelona in the 21st century at the age of 17 years and 49 days.
A brief look at his stats and you can tell the guy is like a passing prodigy. He completed an average of 45.17 passes per 90 minutes according to fbref which puts him in the top five per cent category when compared to other attacking midfielders and wingers. And when it comes to pass completion, he ranks among the top one per cent of midfielders with an 89.3 per cent accuracy.
The 17-year-old is equally adept in short as well as medium-range passing. The story is the same when to comes to passes nade in the final third of the pitch. This is the reason Smarterscout has rated him at 92 for link-up play.
|Pass||Completed pass per 90 minutes||Pass Completion Rate||Pass Completion Rate Percentile|
And the story is similar when it comes to his defensive duties especially tackles and pressure initiated. Even here the player is dominating on the success rate of the tackles and pressures that he initiates.
According to fbref stats, Gavi initiates 2.28 tackles per 90 minutes which put him in the top seven per cent category but out of these tackles, 2.86 tackles per 90 minutes are successful.
This means that he only goes for a tackle when he is absolutely sure that he will win it.
In fact, he has is the best when it comes to it when compared to Phillipe Coutinho, Frenkie de Jong, Pedri and Nico Gonzalez.
When it comes to pressure, he again outshines all of them barring Pedri with a brilliant 5.84 successful pressures per 90 minutes.
It is due to the brilliant defensive stats that he has given a rating of 96 in disrupting the opposition’s move by Smarterscout.
Koeman in his press conference before the game against Valencia in October had lavished praise on the young player.
97% – Against Benfica, Gavi 🇪🇸 completed 97% of his passes (34/35), his highest percentage in a match for @FCBarcelona in all competitions. He also was involved in 4 shots (2 attempted and 2 key passes), equalling his best tally (also 4 vs Alavés, 1 and 3). Personality. pic.twitter.com/4vglZ6MdeL
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) November 24, 2021
“He’s shown, despite his age, that he knows how to play,” he had said as quoted by Marca.
A prime example of his can be his international debut which came against European champions Italy in the Nations League semi-finals.
Despite the quality of the opponent and the stature of the match, he was unfazed and produces a brilliant display.
He made 68 touches in the entire match, which was more than what Jorginho (34) and Marco Verratti (31) could manage combined.
He also made the most tackles in the match and was electric throughout the match helping his side win the match 2-1 in Italy’s own backyard.
5 – Gavi 🇪🇸 completed five dribbles vs Sweden, more than any other Spanish player in a single #EuropeanQualifiers game. Only Adama Traoré (nine in Ukraine in Nations League) completed more than him for Spanish side in Luis Enrique era (all comps). Ability#Qatar2022 pic.twitter.com/rVwIRQqiGU
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) November 15, 2021
And he has not looked back ever since with his latest display against Sweden coming for special praise with the player completing five dribbles, the most by any player on the pitch and the second-highest ever since Luis Enrique took charge of the national squad.
WHAT THE STATS DON’T TELL YOU
Maturity, that’s the greatest quality that he brings to the table and what has surprised many. His career trajectory is also different from players such as Nico Gonzalez, and Pedri. In the case of these two players, they spent considerable time in Barcelona B with Pedri even spending one season at Las Palmas.
In the case of Gavi, the rise has been so fast that he should be praised for the way he has handled all the pressure and has let all the success get to his head.
This season, the player has played 12 times for Barcelona, has appeared for them in the El Clasico and has started for Spain.
He has managed to do all that without reaching the age of 18 which shows how rare of a talent he is.
Gavi's tackling in his 16 Barça games:
– First 8 games: 8 successful tackles, one every 54 minutes, 57% success rate.
– Last 8 games: 13 successful tackles, one every 42 minutes, 65% success rate.
8 of Gavi's 21 successful tackles (38%) came in the 2 games under Xavi. pic.twitter.com/KrfhHcZ0vH
— adil (@Barca19stats) November 26, 2021
Gavi has already made quite a name for himself in such a short career and can reach the same heights that his idol Andres Iniesta, but his playing style similar to his current coach Xavi reached with both Barcelona and Spain.
“He is playing like in the backyard of his house. It is a pleasure to see a player with this quality and personality. He is the future of the national team like many other players but he also showed he is part of the present,” Luis Enrique told Reuters after his international bout against Italy.
And one of the things that will give an immense boost to his career is the fact that with Xavi at the helm at Barcelona, he will be under the supervision of one of the best guys who himself has taken the same route years ago that Gavi is now embarking on.
It is just the start of a journey that may turn him from a high potential player to a world-class one. a