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

Quick Reads
Montpellier v Paris St Germain - Stade de la Mosson, Montpellier, France - February 1, 2023 Paris St Germain's Warren Zaire-Emery celebrates scoring their third goal with Lionel Messi

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 earlier in the season and he hasn’t looked back since. The French midfielder even started in their most recent Champions League tie with Bayern Munich.

Born on March 2004, the 16-year-old midfielder wasn’t around to witness Messi’s debut back in the day, but he is now playing with him on a weekly basis.

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 six league goals this season and is developing 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 has been like lightning in a bottle this season.

The 18-year-old was born eight months after Messi made his debut and with an international call-up surely in the pipeline, he could soon get the chance to play with Messi himself.

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 is already closing in on 100 appearances for Barcelona at the age of just 18. As Gavi made his Barcelona debut during the 2021-22 season, he never got the chance to play with Messi which is a shame.

Romeo Lavia

Lavia has been one of the brighter sparks in what has proven to be a poor season so far for Southampton. The Belgian midfielder was born in January 2004 and has already attracted interest from around Europe.

Chelsea seemed keen on a move for the former Manchester City midfielder in January and he has all the attributes to be a top player in the future.

Andrey Santos

Chelsea’s spending under Todd Boehly has been heavily scrutinised, but we can’t help but get excited about Santos. An 18-year-old Brazilian playmaker coming over from Vasco da Gama? Sign us up.

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 plated 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.

As a result of Liverpool’s lack of depth in the middle, Bajcetic has been fast-tracked into the first team and boy has he taken his chance. The 18-year-old has been a fine addition to Jurgen Klopp’s side and he is bound to only get better.

READ NEXT: Where are they now? Barcelona’s XI on Lionel Messi’s debut v Porto

TRY A QUIZ: Can you name Argentina’s Xl from Lionel Messi’s debut in 2005?