Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez was full of praise for teenage midfielder Aleix Garrido after handing the 19-year-old his first-team debut in Saturday’s 4-0 La Liga win over Elche.
Garrido was a surprise name in the squad list for the match. Xavi called him up, along with Estanis Pedrola, for the fixture after being impressed with his performances for the youth teams at Barcelona.
The teenager has now become the latest player to debut for Barcelona under Xavi and received plenty of praise from his manager after the win that sends the Catalans 15 points clear at the top of the table in Spain, as reported by Marca.
“He has a total Barça profile. He is a footballer that I like. Technically he is gifted. Pablo and Aleix are very young but I see a talent in them and they can participate,” he said. “Aleix would have made his debut earlier if not for injury. They are players who we take very seriously. We always try to give them opportunities but sometimes the competition within the team makes it difficult.”
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Garrido Talks Xavi Advice
The Barcelona youngster admitted it was a dream to finally take to the field for the first team for the Catalan giants and revealed the advice Xavi had given him before he came on, as reported by Sam Marsden at ESPN.
“A lot of emotions, the best day of my life… 11 years at this club. It is an incredible feeling. I will never forget this day,” he said. “Really happy for the minutes and hope more to come. Xavi just told me not to lose the ball.”
Garrido will be hoping for more minutes and may have chances with Pedri and Frenkie de Jong still struggling with injury. Barcelona return to action on Wednesday, April 5 in a crunch meeting with Real Madrid in the second leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final clash.
Another Surprise From Xavi
Xavi also pulled off another surprise in the match by starting center-back Eric Garcia in midfield. The 22-year-old took over from Sergio Busquets and put in a polished performance, leading Xavi to explain his thinking after the match, per ESPN.
“It was [sporting director] Jordi Cruyff’s idea, he has been saying it since last season, that he thinks he has the attributes to play there,” he said. “We had a friendly game with the B team and he did well there. It was a great performance today. We could have a great pivot on our hands.”
Garcia has fallen out of favor in defence but may now have a future in midfield, particularly with uncertainty over Busquets’s future. The captain is out of contract at the end of the season and yet to renew.
Barcelona have been linked with other midfielders this season, but the club’s financial problems may make signings difficult. The emergence of Garrido and Garcia as potential options will at least give Xavi plenty of food for thought ahead of the summer transfer window.
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