The Barcelona midfielder was suspended at Old Trafford but will face the struggling southerners
Xavi came up with one of the best descriptions of Gavi since he arrived in the Barça first team. The coach, moving away from the sometimes poetic prose of football analysts, labelled the player "a heart with legs". In Manchester, against Erik ten Hag's side, especially in the second half, the Blaugrana lacked a little of both to overcome United.
The truth is that the player from Los Palacios has become an undisputed starter at Barça and his absence, along with that of Pedri and Dembélé, whose names also always appear in the XI, ended up being an insurmountable burden for the Blaugrana.
Gavi's trajectory at Barça is clearly heading upwards. Since he came to the first team under Ronald Koeman, he has not stopped growing. Also with Xavi. In fact, it seems that the World Cup was a turning point for the youth player. Before traveling to Qatar with the Spanish national team, the midfielder had played twenty games in which he accumulated a total of 1,133 minutes, only thirteen more than he has already accumulated in the fifteen games that Barça have played after the World Cup.
This figure shows that his weight in the team's football is becoming more important with each passing day. The return leg of the Europa League play-off for the last 16 is the only game he has missed since the World Cup. In this stretch, he has only missed 290 minutes and 90 are from the match at Manchester United.
Gavi, unless there is a major surprise, will start today in Almeria, confirming a clear trend that makes him a permanent fixture for Xavi in the starting eleven. The last league game in which he was a substitute was in Pamplona, the last one before traveling to Doha. Since then, he has always been in the line-up decided by the coach. In fact, he completed every minute of the matches against Getafe, Girona, Villarreal and Cádiz.
In the Europa League he also played an hour and a half in the first leg against United, while in the semi-final against Betis in the Spanish Super Cup he was substituted in extra time, in the 96th minute, although he played the whole of the final against Real Madrid.
In the Copa del Rey he was a substitute against Intercity in Alicante and also in Ceuta, although in the first game he came on in the 60th minute and in the second after half-time. In both cases he replaced Pablo Torre. In the 1-0 win against Real Sociedad, he completed the full ninety minutes.
The proximity of the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-final against Real Madrid, which will be played on Thursday at the Santiago Bernabeu, will force Xavi to manage the minutes of his players at Almeria with intelligence. The case of Gavi, who already missed the game at Old Trafford through suspension, is particularly delicate because, despite arriving rested at Almeria, he has accumulated four yellow cards in La Liga and, if he sees a fifth card this afternoon, he will have to serve a one-match ban, at the Camp Nou against Valencia. The player from Los Palacios has been cautioned in La Liga against Real Madrid, Valencia, Espanyol and Girona.