Xavi hails Barcelona rising star Gavi

The impact of Barcelona’s teenage sensation Gavi this season has been “marvellous”, according to head coach Xavi.

Since making his senior debut against Getafe in August, the 17-year-old midfielder has played 26 appearances for the Blaugrana across all competitions – matching Xavi’s tally during his maiden campaign at Camp Nou in 1998-99.

Gavi will surpass that should he appear when Barca make the short trip to Espanyol on Sunday, with the visitors aiming to consolidate their top-four status in LaLiga.

The academy graduate’s performances in the middle of the park have also culminated in a senior international call-up, making his Spain debut in the Nations League victory over Italy in October.

And while Xavi insisted there is still room for improvement, he has been delighted with the strides the youngster has taken.

“He’s very good at recovering possession, taking the ball away from the opponents. He’s very competitive and wins the right duels,” the head coach said.

“He understands the high press very well; he’s excellent at that. He turns very well when we want to play in between the lines.

“But he needs to organise himself, he needs to find the right resources in the right moments – knowing when to attack the space better, when to let the wingers run or when to pass it. These are tactical situations where he needs to improve.

“His production is spectacular. He’s an incredible talent. At 17 years of age, to already have such an impact and play with the national side is marvellous.”

Gavi has won 100 duels in LaLiga this season – a tally only bettered by Sergio Busquets (129) among Barcelona players.

Meanwhile, Busquets (168) and Frenkie de Jong (87) are the only midfielders to have won more possession more times in the Spanish top-flight this term than Gavi (63).

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