Farewell, then, 2021. 2022 begins with fresh hope and unbridled enthusiasm for many across the globe. In Gavi and Nico, two heroes of 2021, FC Barcelona fans will have reasons to be optimistic.
Certainly, of course, a troubled 2021 for FC Barcelona will go down in history not only as a year where they slipped back into Europa after 17 years. But also as one they lost their greatest ever footballer, Lionel Messi. As the Argentine wizard dramatically and tearfully departed for Paris, in his harrowing absence new heroes and new blood rose.
From virtually unknown quantities at Barcelona B, Gavi and Nico have emerged into all these bright lights and have dazzled for all to see. It all began when both teenagers joined the first team for pre-season friendlies back in the summer. A golden opportunity handed to them by former FC Barcelona gaffer Ronald Koeman.
Nico and Gavi earned their place fast
To their credit, Gavi and Nico produced impressive exhibitions which presumably left Koeman greatly awed and sated. It was no real surprise when the former Netherland manager handed both Gavi and Nico their La Liga debuts at the outset of this current campaign.
Nico Gonzalez, the first of the two, debuted in Barcelona’s opening La Liga game against Real Sociedad. He came in to replace veteran Sergio Busquets. And, on an eventful day Nico would probably never forget, a 4-2 Camp Nou win over Real Sociedad was the icing on the cake.
Before long, Pablo Paez Gavira made his debut in Barca’s 2-1 win over Getafe at home on matchday 3. After 74 minutes played already, the teenager was thrust in for Sergi Roberto. In spite of his diminutive stature, Gavi produced a performance of courage, invention and admirable deftness. Doing it in a game of high tension and high stakes. A timely reminder to all football is played with the heart and mind first, even before the sheer force and strength of the human body.
Thereafter, Gavi and Nico went on to become a fixture in Ronald Koeman’s starting line-ups. For Gavi, he became simply unplayable, a constant, an inevitable force, a plague that infected all. In midfield, he slotted in splendidly in the yawning gap that had been created by Pedri’s persistent absence due to niggling injuries. At times, Gavi would be deployed at the wings, and yet his output still remained laudable, immune to blunder.
At only 19, Nico has potential to become the new Sergio Busquets in the next decade or so to come. Aged 17, Gavi has already been tipped to do greater things, even stranger things.
Dream Teen is here to do great things
There is a sense that Barcelona will rediscover their long lost mojo. Especially after the appointment of the much feted Xavi Hernandez. There is also the feeling that these new and young crop of players presently at the club could write their own impressive stories into Catalan folklore by raising the level of the club to former heights in no time.
As Xavi pilots Barcelona into a promising dawn, there will be little misgivings Gavi and Nico will pull their weight to make FC Barcelona great again.