“He thinks he will be a legend at Barcelona”

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It’s the stuff of managerial dreams – a blank check to build the most exciting young starting XI in world football.

But that’s exactly what BBC Sounds’ new Wunderkids podcast offers, at least in fantasy form, over its 11 episodes. The first five episodes are available to listen to now.

The Wunderkids team, in conjunction with BBC Sport, have proposed 11 players – and presenter Steve Crossman will be joined by experts to discuss the latest inclusion, with a new player revealed every week.

So far, new Manchester City striker Julian Alvarez, Bayer Leverkusen winger Florian Wirtz, Ajax midfielder Ryan Gravenberch and Santos defender Kaiky have made the cut – and now the midfielder from Barcelona Gavi joins them.

Who is he? Gavi has scored two La Liga goals in 21 appearances for Barcelona

Coming from Barcelona’s famed La Masia academy, Gavi is a technically gifted and resilient midfielder.

Hailing from a small village near Seville, Gavi was recruited at the age of 11 by Barca from the Real Betis academy. Its growth over the next six years was rapid and impressive.

He went straight from the Under-17s to the Under-19s – a rare transition for a La Masia player – and made just three appearances for the club’s B team before moving on to a first team that had desperately need for spark and desire for a new hero from home.

He was man of the match on his first home start against Levante and provided the assist for the last-minute equalizer against Granada, showing a composure and execution that had eluded more experienced team-mates with a cross for Ronald Araujo.

His impressive form for his club then translated to the international stage as he became Spain’s youngest ever player, at just 17 years and 62 days old.

During the 83 minutes he was on the pitch, he played an influential role in ending Italy’s unbeaten run in the 2-1 Nations League semi-final victory.

What does the expert say? Gavi made his senior debut in October 2021

Spanish football journalist Guillem Balague

He’s hyper-competitive, unable to lose at dominoes or cards without cringing and losing friends, but that’s what got him to the first team.

You need this personality to go through the phases you have to [at Barcelona’s academy] as a young talent. In his case, he skipped levels. He started playing with the 17-year-olds when he was still 15.

He played more in the first team than in the B team. Once he enters the new phase, he is completely calm. That’s where he belongs.

His idol is Andres Iniesta but I compare his progression to Lionel Messi, who also made his debut at 17. There was absolutely no problem with Messi being accepted into the first team, the same way Gavi was accepted.

For a player who has been at Barca for 11 years, his positional game isn’t the best. He wants to be everywhere. You look at the stats and he’s one of the guys who runs the most. He has to run a little less and be smart in the way he does it.

[Barca] confidence that he will play over 100 games for the club. He has a contract until 2023 and they want to renew it. He has a release clause of 15 million euros and he wants to stay at Camp Nou. He thinks he will be a legend at Barcelona.

What does the fan say?

Rafa Aldamuy (My only podcast)

Gavi literally came out of nowhere. No one expected a 17-year-old midfielder to kick down the door to the first team and essentially become an essential starter.

He has that special technique you need to play in Barca’s midfield, but on top of that, it was his fight that impressed me the most.

There are special talents who take their only chance to bite their necks and not let go and Gavi is one of them.

My favorite moment was that he had no fear in both Clasicos against Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Casemiro. It’s just something you don’t often see in a 17-year-old. He is not afraid of anyone.

Source: bbc.com

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