Before we talk about why the upcoming 23/24 season could be the making of Gavi we first have to address his rise to stardom. Gavi first appeared for Barça during pre-season in July of 2021. This came at a very uncertain time for Barça.
Getting minutes under Koeman
Koeman’s future as the Barça coach wasn’t secure, Barça’s finances were in shambles, major players were leaving the club, and Barça were about to lose the services of the greatest player of all time. It’s safe to say this was a very turbulent time for the club. However in that time of uncertainty and chaos Gavi made his mark. The moment he stepped on the pitch his appetite for the ball could be felt with immediate effect.
At the time just 16 years old he played with no fear, he was dribbling past players as if they were traffic cones. He was wonderful with the ball at his feet and alongside Pedri who’d just come off the back of a breakthrough season he gave real hope to cules everywhere that he could very well be the next big thing.
As the season began with Pedri absent due to his participation in the Olympics and with limited options in the starting 11 Koeman decided to bet on Gavi and give him some opportunities in the first team. These came in the form of cameos off the bench normally coming around the 60th minute or later into the match.
Each time Gavi would come on he always left a positive impression. His best slew of cameos came in three matches against Granada, Cadiz, and Levante. The headline moment for Gavi being an assist to Ronald Araujo which rescued Barça a point at the Camp Nou against Granada. As the early season went on results got worse and worse for Barça and by November Barça were humiliated with a champions league exit in the group stages and in 7th place in La Liga with serious questions looming over whether Barça could even qualify for next season’s Champions league.
Playing under Xavi
Koeman was sacked and in came Xavi to rescue Barcelona. Xavi at the helm looked to prioritize the young players and put the club back on the right path to at least qualify for the champions league the following season. He took a immediate liking to Gavi due to his flare, work rate and tenacity. Gavi’s prominence in the team grew and as a result he produced one of the highlights of the season. A stunning turn on the halfway line, dribble to the edge of the box and a cool finish sent shockwaves around the world. A new starlet was born.
As Barça made signings to bolster the team in January. The team’s performances improved and Gavi continued to impress with a goal against Atletico Madrid beautiful assist to Pedri against Levante. Barça would ultimately end the season in 2nd place in La Liga and Gavi would finish the campaign with 2 goals and 5 assist.
The following season saw Gavi grow as a player and produce some eye-catching moments. Most notably his performance against Real Madrid in the final of the Spanish Super cup where he scored and produced 2 assists. However Gavi spent a vast majority of the season playing as a false winger in a box midfield rather than operating as an interior. This was a role that would’ve been foreign to him and therefore it proved difficult to adjust to. By the end of the season questions were raised over the development of Gavi and concerns over him potentially stagnating as a player. He ended the league season with 2 goals and 4 assist in La Liga a lesser return in the league than his previous campaign.
The Next Step
Yet in the midst of some of these concerns there are good reasons to think the 23/24 season could be a pivotal season in shaping the development of young Gavi. Here are some key reasons why.
- The Arrival of Gundogan
- The management of minutes
- Title winning experience
We start with the arrival of Gundogan. The German arrives after captaining Manchester City to a historic treble whilst playing some remarkable football, arguably the best of his career. Gundogan arrives with a wealth of experience playing at the top level and of course playing in the biggest matches in the champions league. Something Gavi is still yet to do.
Gundogan as a player is light years ahead of Gavi which of course doesn’t come as a surprise nor is it something hold against Gavi if anything this is terrific news for him. Gavi will have a wonderful mentor in Gundogan who could help him iron out a few rough patches in game. Things like becoming a bigger threat in the penalty area, a better final ball, shooting from range, controlling the tempo of a game. These are all areas which Gundogan thrives at and he’ll serve as a wonderful example for Gavi to learn from.
Rotations are key
The next reason will be the management of minutes. Gavi over the past 2 seasons has played a lot of football. Not only for club but country as well. He also played and scored in the world cup for Spain. Gavi achieved in just 2 seasons what many couldn’t do in their entire careers. He became a superstar in the world of football. And that brings a lot of attention and pressure.
On top of that playing week in and week out might sound good on the surface. But it can pose serious dangers to a young player or any player for that matter. Therefore, it’simportant to have rotations. Gundogan is at the club and Xavi can potentially count on Abde and Ansu Fati as wingers ahead of the new season. This means it’s like Gavi will not have a fixed position in midfield. But just as if not more importantly he’ll be given a lot more rest.
And this can allow him off the pitch to dedicate more time to improving aspects of his game and not feeling as if he’s under constant pressure each week or has to play a game every 3 days. With the reduction in minutes this also minimizes the chances of injury and gives Gavi a safe platform to develop and grow in stature both on and off the pitch.
The third reason is title winning expirience. Whilst Gavi might not have the experience of winning a Champions league title yet. Or even playing in the latter rounds of the competition. But it can’t be stressed enough just how important domestic success is for young players. Winning a league title is no easy feat. And it takes tremendous hard work every single week of the season.
For any youngster winning your first title is special. But for Gavi it’s even more special. The Golden Boy of 2022 played a very important role in the team. Moreover, he had an incredible performance in the Super Cup final against Real Madrid. This will fill him with a lot of confidence going into the 23/24 season. And it’ll prepare him for big matches in the champions league and other competitions to come.
In concluding it’s important to understand just how young Gavi is and it’s important for Barça fans not to place too many expectations on him too soon.
Pedri’s emergence as a generational talent is exceptional and very few players can match his ceiling if any in the world of football right now amongst the young players. It’s also important that Gavi is allowed to mature and develop into his own and not burdened with the label of the next Xavi or Iniesta.
He isn’t of the same mold as those two and still has a lot of maturing to do. He’s got time on his side and the perfect environment to help him realize his potential. All that’s left to do is sit back and watch him blossom.