The midfield that will define the new Barca under Xavi

Nico, Gavi, Pedri will be the pillars of the new Barca.

Since the trio of Xavi, Iniesta and Busquets, Barcelona hasn’t found their heirs for the midfield throne. But it can be understood considering how good these three were for both club and country for several years and who defined an era of football. Barcelona didn’t even pay a penny for them as Barcelona got their gems in their academy itself. Since Xavi and Iniesta’s departure, many youngsters have been promoted to the senior team but have failed to make their mark in the starting XI.

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Last season, Barcelona signed Pedri from Las Palmas, but after one year of playing senior-level football, Pedri has gained recognition for achievements this year. Pedri was announced the Golden Boy and Kopa Trophy winner at the end of November for his breakthrough season for club and country. Pedri is considered a generational talent following his stunning performances just at 18.

Before leaving the club, Ronald Koeman once again showed his trust in youngsters and brought in two young midfielders from the academy. Gavi and Nico were very impressive in the preseason. As a result, they made their LaLiga and Champions League debut at the start of the season. Gavi’s performances impressed Luis Enrique, who included Gavi in Spain’s squad for the Nations League and handed him his debut just at the age of 17. The judgemental criticism about Gavi and Enrique quickly evaporated as  

 The 17-year-old proved his worth within a few games.

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At this stage, it’s pretty clear that Pedri and Gavi will play a massive part in Barcelona and Spain’s future. Despite their diminutive nature, they are exquisite on the ball and are characterised by speed of thought and ball retention. Like Pedri, Gavi has also played as a wide midfielder at the start of their campaign at Barca. Like Andres Iniesta, who used to stretch the midfield by running down the lines to connect play centrally.

First, it was Pedri. Then came Gavi. Now we have yet another gem emerging in Nico. Nico is the latest player to come up with the goods for Barca for the past last two months. Nico is said to be Sergio Busquets’s replacement in the future, but currently, he is making his way into the starting XI, overcoming the likes of Frenkie de Jong and Riqui Puig in the midfield. One of his favourite attributes is running with the ball. Being 6’2 and his physicality helps him deal with aerial and ground duels. His dribbling is a mix of feints and a change of pace, allowing him to drive the ball forward quickly.

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These combinations of ball retention and ball carrying define Barcelona’s midfield, and who’s better to oversee these trio’s development than Xavi himself. Xavi’s arrival will add more aspects to their gameplay. Xavi’s guidance will help Gavi build his career and overcome the challenges Xavi faced himself. Nico will grow under Xavi as a deep-lying playmaker, and Xavi’s knowledge will allow Nico to blossom into a reliable player. On Sunday, Barcelona fans saw how well Nico and Gavi could understand each other when Gavi assisted Nico with precise long-ball for Nico’s first goal for the club. Only time will tell how these three will fit together.

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