Gavi has been the story of La Roja’s international break. The 17-year-old Andalusian playmaker started for the Spanish national team last night at San Siro against Italy in the semi-final of the Nations League, and was superb as Spain won 2-1.
The Barcelona midfielder played 84 minutes until he was replaced by club teammate Sergi Roberto, and was excellent in demonstrating his quality, defensive nous and ability to operate within a team unit. He completed 53 passes with an 88.7% accuracy, attempting four dribbles and touching the ball 69 times.
Beyond the numbers, however, it was the intangibles that impressed most. Despite only just having turned 17, the slight teenager played without an ounce of fear and went toe-to-toe with his idol, Marco Verratti, serving as a key part of a Spanish engine-room that won out in a tightly-contested and high-quality midfield battle. The young man has a bright future ahead of him.
Demetrio Albertini, the former Milan, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid player, was full of praise for Gavi in comments carried by Mundo Deportivo. Currently president of the Technical Sector of the Italian Football Federation, he compared the young midfielder with Italian legend Francesco Totti after the game.
“Gavi is an exception, he’s Francesco Totti, let’s call him that,” Albertini said. “But in Spain players can come through at second teams, where talent is confronted with experience. A talented player can be seen right away, there he has the courage that when you give him the opportunity he takes it without fear.” Totti made his Serie A debut for Roma at just 16 back in 1993.