Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez says Gavi’s “heart and soul” is contagious for the rest of the team after the midfielder inspired the Catalans to a 3-1 Spanish Spur Cup final win over Real Madrid on Sunday in Saudi Arabia.
Gavi, 18, opened the scoring and then created goals for Robert Lewandowski and Pedri as Barca comprehensively beat Madrid, who replied through Karim Benzema late on, to win their first trophy under Xavi.
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“He is a kid that excites everyone,” Xavi said in a news conference when asked about Gavi’s performance at the King Fahd stadium in Riyadh. “When you see him compete like that…the heart, soul and character that he plays with are contagious for the rest of the team.
“He’s a born leader, too, that all comes naturally to him — and at the age of 18. He is spectacular. I have said it many times, but I don’t get tired of praising him. He has no ceiling, so don’t slow him down.”
Barca were trophy-less last season and have won just one Copa del Rey in the last three years, under Ronald Koeman in 2021. Xavi hopes Sunday’s trophy — the club’s first in the 21st century without Lionel Messi — will provide the platform for further success following a difficult period in the club’s history.
“We have a really good generation of players and you can see the hunger they have for trophies,” Xavi added. “I hope this will be a point of inflection as you [the journalist asking] say, but this doesn’t stop. On Thursday we have the Copa; next weekend LaLiga.
“I am happy for the players, though. They have received a lot of criticism, unfair in many cases, and they were liberated today. It’s a massive morale boost and we can work with more peace of mind.
“It’s also important for the fans. This club has seen everything in recent years: financial problems, the departure of Leo [Messi] was big. I hope this will be the first trophy of many.”
More than the silverware, Xavi was happy with the performance against Madrid and said if not for the play of Thibaut Courtois, who made good saves from Lewandowski and Ousmane Dembele, Barca could have scored more.
“I stay with the how more than the trophy,” the Barca boss said. “The how means a lot to me. I am happy because of how we won. The four midfielders understood what they had to do. Everything we planned came off.
“We dominated Madrid for nearly the whole game. The first half was extraordinary. That makes the players believe in what we are doing. But we cannot stop here.”
Barca are still in pursuit of three more trophies this season. They travel to third-division side AD Ceuta in the round of 16 of the Copa del Rey on Thursday and then return to action in LaLiga when they host Getafe on Sunday. They are currently three points clear of Madrid at the top of the table.
After dropping out of the Champions League, they also have the Europa League coming up in February. They face Premier League side Manchester United in the playoff round for a place in the round of 16.