9 great players who were born after Messi made his Barcelona debut

On November 16, 2003, Lionel Messi made his Barcelona debut with a 15-minute cameo in a mid-season friendly with Porto and the rest is history.

The Argentine superstar was only 16 years old when he made his first appearance for Barcelona and he went on to leave a legacy which will be almost impossible to match.

We’ve picked out nine great players who were born after Messi made his debut for Barcelona in 2003 and compiled them into the following list. Some of these will have huge careers to come.

Warren Zaire-Emery

Christophe Galtier handed Zaire-Emery his PSG debut last season and he hasn’t looked back since. The French midfielder has since racked up 46 senior appearances for PSG and is now one of the brightest prospects in Europe.

Born on March 2004, the 17-year-old midfielder wasn’t around to witness Messi’s debut back in the day, but he did get the chance to play alongside him last season.

Youssoufa Moukoko

Borussia Dortmund are well known for developing some of the best forwards in world football and Moukoko looks like their latest prodigy. The 18-year-old has scored 13 goals since turning pro and is continuing to develop well.

Alejandro Garnacho

If he continues to develop at his current rate, Garnacho could prove to be the natural heir to the throne in Argentina. The Manchester United winger is one of the most entertaining players to watch at Old Trafford these days.

The 19-year-old was born eight months after Messi made his debut and he now gets the chance to play alongside the World Cup winner while on international duty.

Alejandro Garnacho during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Leeds United at Old Trafford, Manchester, February 2023.

READ: ‘Like a young Cristiano’ – 13 amazing quotes about Alejandro Garnacho


The Spanish midfielder has already racked up over 100 appearances for Barcelona at the age of just 19. As Gavi made his Barcelona debut during the 2021-22 season, he never got the chance to play with Messi which is a shame.

Like Messi, Gavi is also a winner of the Golden Boy award which is handed to the brightest upcoming prospects in the game. There’s nothing stopping the Spanish midfielder from reaching the very top.

Romeo Lavia

The Belgian midfielder was born in January 2004 and made his big-money move to Chelsea in the summer. Injuries have stalled the start of his Chelsea career, but the future looks incredibly bright for the youngster.

Andrey Santos

Chelsea’s spending under Todd Boehly has been heavily scrutinised, but we can’t help but get excited about Santos. The 19-year-old Brazilian midfielder is currently developing on loan with  Nottingham Forest.

Julio Enciso

Brighton splashed out around £9.5million for the Paraguayan forward in the summer transfer window and he has already shown glimpses of quality.

He’s mostly played in a backup role to their other forwards so far, but if Brighton’s recruitment is anything to go by, he’ll be a first-team star in no time.

Rico Lewis

Born over a year after Messi made his Barcelona debut, Lewis is now establishing himself as a first-team regular under Pep Guardiola. Taking advantage of the Joao Cancelo drama, Lewis looks a natural in the City lineup.

His versatility makes him especially useful to a manager like Guardiola and his first senior goal against Sevilla will live long in the memory.

Stefan Bajcetic

“Since he started playing for us, he has been our best player,” is what Mohamed Salah told Sky Sports following Liverpool’s Merseyside derby victory against Everton last season.

Bajcetic was fast-tracked into the first team as a result of Liverpool’s injury crisis last season and boy has he taken his chance. The 19-year-old has been a fine addition to Jurgen Klopp’s side and he is bound to only get better.

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