A few weeks ago, Gavi was known by followers of the Barcelona academy, but that was about it. Now, he is the talk of world football, at just 17 years and 62 days old.
Not content with becoming the youngest player ever to play for Spain, he took his opportunity in the starting XI in Wednesday night’s 2-1 Nations League win over Italy to outshine Marco Verratti, his idol and one of the best midfielders in the world. It was the apprentice well and truly outdoing the master and his performance didn’t go unnoticed in Italy.
“He’s just a boy, born in 2004, but he plays like a proper footballer,” said Italian daily La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“He welcomes physical contact and is always central to the play. He gave Verratti a lot of problems.”
Luis Enrique’s comments on Gavi
Luis Enrique, the man responsible for giving him his debut, was delighted to see his protege sparkle on the big stage.
“His job was to mark Verratti and he did more than that,” Luis Enrique said.
“We’ve got to give him the normality he needs. It’s not typical that he can play like he does.
“He plays with so much personality and in harmony with the team. He was fantastic and he is something exceptional.
“He’s not only the future, but also the present.”
Azzurri boss Roberto Mancini was next to weigh in on the young starlet.
“Gavi is a terrific player for just 17,” he said.
“Spain develop incredible talents generation after generation. They are very lucky to have these sorts of players.”
Gavi praised even in France
Even further afield there was praise, as L’Equipe couldn’t hide their admiration either.
“He was the one who set the tone by winning the ball back early on,” the French daily said.
“Against a midfield maestro like Verratti, Gavi showed his skill. He’s not afraid of anyone.”
Le Parisien continued the adoration.
“Alongside the experienced Sergio Busquets and Koke, Gavi was composed and won his battle with Verratti,” they said.
“He went off after 83 minutes having shown himself as a leader, not as a kid who was just a fan of the Spanish national team only three months ago.”