Spain calls up Barcelona teenager Gavi for Italy semifinal

AP , Thursday 30 Sep 2021

The 17-year-old Barcelona midfielder Gavi Paez has been summoned for Spain's Nations League semifinal against Italy next week.

Gavi Paez
Barcelona s Gavi Paez, left, and Cadiz s Jens Jonsson compete for the ball during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Cadiz and Barcelona at the Nuevo Mirandilla stadium in Cadiz, Spain, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021. AP

If Gavi plays, he will become Spain's youngest debutant, breaking the record held by Angel Zubieta of 17 years, 284 days set in 1936.

Spain and European champion Italy meet in Milan in the Nations League final four next Wednesday, three months after their Euro 2020 semifinal.

The winner will face France or Belgium in the Nations League final in Turin on Oct. 10.

While relying mostly on the core of players from the Euros, coach Luis Enrique surprisingly added Gavi to his squad on Thursday.

The teenager made his first-team debut for Barcelona only a month ago against Getafe, becoming the fourth youngest player for the club.

Since then he has become one of the few bright spots for embattled Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman, who has played Gavi in three more Spanish league matches and the team's two Champions League matches.

Luis Enrique said he has been watching Gavi since his stint as Barcelona coach when Gavi was coming up through its youth teams.

``It could be too soon to bring him, but I only think it is risky to call up a young player if you are not sure that he can handle it,'' Luis Enrique said. ``But I have known Gavi for years and I am convinced that he will become an important player for his club and for Spain.''

The other new addition to Spain was Yeremi Pino, an 18-year-old winger for Villarreal. He may help make up for the absence of forward Dani Olmo and striker Alvaro Morata, both injured.

Chelsea defender Marcos Alonso was recalled to fill in for injured right backs Jordi Alba and Jose Gaya.

Real Madrid was left again without any players in Spain's squad, just like at the Euros.

Spain squad:

Goalkeepers: Unai Simon (Athletic Bilbao), David de Gea (Manchester United), Robert Sanchez (Brighton).

Defenders: Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Marcos Alonso (Chelsea), Pedro Porro (Sporting), Eric Garcia (Barcelona), Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City), Inigo Martinez (Athletic Bilbao), Pau Torres (Villarreal), Sergio Reguilon (Tottenham).

Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Rodri Hernandez (Manchester City), Pedri Gonzalez (Barcelona), Gavi Paez (Barcelona), Koke Resurreccion (Atletico Madrid), Mikel Merino (Real Sociedad).

Forwards: Ferran Torres (Manchester City), Pablo Sarabia (Sporting), Mikel Oyarzabal (Real Sociedad), Pablo Fornals (West Ham), Marcos Llorente (Atletico Madrid), Yeremi Pino (Villarreal).

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