In a football world filled with countless stars of today, so many of us are curious about who is waiting in the wings. That search for that next wunderkind; a youngster who has the potential to make us stand up and marvel at how they are masters of their craft. Despite their tender age, they are already embedded in the minds of millions of fans around the world.
101 Great Goals continues its weekly series surveying U21 players across the globe during the 2022-23 season. Some of them you will have no doubt heard of, while we hope to bring you a few new names to spark your curiosities every now and then.
Fact File & Overall Data Picture
- Name: Gabri Veiga
- Age: 20
- Position: Center Midfield/Attacking Midfield
- Place of Birth: Porriño, Spain
- International eligibility: Spain
- National team caps: 1 (Spain U21′s)
- Current club: RC Celta de Vigo
- Current Market Value (per Transfermarkt): €10m
- Potential suitor(s): Barcelona, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Manchester United, Newcastle United
Background & Overall Assessment
The influence across the global landscape that has emerged from Spain since the immediate aftermath of the Reconquista is almost unfathomable. There is no better way to gauge that very fact other than the over 450 million people that speak Spanish as their mother tongue, with 21 countries recognizing Spanish as their official language. Moreover, only English, Hindi, and Mandarin Chinese are more widely spoken around the globe; a mark of the nation’s influence during the age of discovery and the age of colonialism.
When it comes to football, Spain is one of the preeminent powers in Europe. The Iberian nation has long produced incredibly talented players, with names like Samitier, Aranzadi, Alcántara (Paulino), Álvarez, Zarra, Di Stefano, Amaro, and Butragueño receiving critical acclaim and legendary status long before the many names that have emerged since the 1990s.
And just like a veritable conveyor belt that has not hit pause, Spain remains at the very forefront of youth production, even away from the hallowed halls of La Masia, La Fábrica, and Cantera.
Galician outfit RC Celta de Vigo looks set to be catapulted into the forefront of the youth development discussion building up to the summer transfer window on account of one name that many are already keeping their eyes on; Gabri Veiga.
Born in O Porriño, the 20-year-old Spanish U21 midfielder has everyone talking during the current 2022-23 season; and not just in Spain.
After beginning his developmental path with local side Santa Mariña, Veiga rose through the youth ranks at Celta before being promoted to Celta B in 2019 where he continued to hone his craft in Segunda División B as well as the Primera Federación from 2019 to 2022, making sixty-two appearances in three seasons.
But as early as the 2020-21 La Liga campaign, Veiga was already earned 218 minutes for Celta’s senior side across thirteen combined appearances during the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons respectively.
At the time of writing, Veiga is now an unquestionable key asset at Abanca-Balaídos under highly-experienced manager Carlos Carvalhal in what has been a phenomenal rise to stardom during the current La Liga campaign.
Veiga has regularly shown similarities to a cadre of top-level Spanish internationals to come before him on the back of a profile that would leave any ardent Football Manager player speechless.
In a recent fantastic performance against Real Valladolid in a 3-0 home win on 26 February, Veiga’s 100% goal contribution rate only scratched the surface of who he is as a player.
Comparisons to Andrés Iniesta would be a little too soon to make, though the similarities are evident, especially given Veiga’s ability to score goals from midfield, with his eight goals for Celta during the current season second only to veteran forward Iago Aspas.
Veiga’s multi-faceted threat is a nightmare to contend with if you are an opposition player. Beyond the goal threat that he carries, Veiga brings to the table the now-traditional Spanish technical prowess when on the ball, an adeptness when it comes to his ability to distribute efficiently and effectively, while also exhibiting creativity in equal measure.
But even more importantly, Veiga does not shy away from responsibilities on the other side of the ball from a defensive standpoint. Unafraid of getting stuck into defensive actions, the Spanish youth international also banks on his intelligence to read the flow of a match in front of him to impressively intercept channels as well.
This wonderfully balanced profile has led both Barcelona and Real Madrid to keep tabs on his development for the remainder of the season. Celta’s desire to keep the €10m-rated midfielder, who comes with a €40m release clause, could potentially give the club enough wiggle room to keep the player on the books in Galicia if they agree to a future move somewhere down the line.
As expected, however, top clubs in the Premier League are already tuning up to make full advances for the midfielder come the summer, with the current release clause figure hardly a stumbling block to English financial power.
Table-topping Arsenal is heavily linked with interest in Veiga, with Manchester United and Newcastle United also reportedly willing to enter the fray should a transfer tug-of-war ensue. The player’s development, as rapid as it is, is currently well-suited to the guaranteed minute he receives under Carvalhal, but questions will no doubt come about regarding whether or not the allure of the Premier League will be too great to ignore.
Both Mikel Arteta and Erik ten Hag would have strong hands to play, especially given the pair’s track record of developing talent in north London, and in the Dutchman’s case, during years spent at Ajax Amsterdam. Champions League football would also be on offer at both institutions, should Veiga be tempted to leave the Iberian Peninsula.
Regardless of where he chooses to venture next, Gabri Veiga is currently on a collision course with a well-trodden path that has led to the pinnacle of world football.