Celta Vigo wonderkid Gabri Veiga is establishing himself as La Liga’s hottest property. Arsenal, Manchester United and Newcastle United are all reportedly keeping tabs on the 20-year-old – and frankly we demand that one of them buy him immediately.
Veiga is currently enjoying an absolutely outstanding breakthrough campaign at Balaidos. The midfielder has quickly established himself as one of the first names on Carlos Carvalhal’s teamsheet and is a key figure in their battle against the drop.
Celta are only three points above the relegation zone, but they’re on the right track to pull away with Veiga pulling strings at the heart of their midfield. They’ve only lost one of their last six matches – a narrow 1-0 to a back-in-form Atletico Madrid – and the jewel of their academy has been nothing short of outstanding during that run.
Nicknamed El niño de Porrino – the boy of Porrino, the region of Galicia he hails from – it’s no surprise that Veiga has already become a darling of the Celta fanbase. He supported the club as a boy and has followed the club’s cult hero Iago Aspas in rising from the youth ranks into the first team.
“I went out giving everything for the club I love, it was a dream come true,” he said after making his first-team debut back in September 2020.
Over the past couple of years he flitted between the periphery of the first team and demonstrating his special talents in the lower reaches of the Spanish pyramid for Celta B, but this is the first season in which he’s really caught fire at senior level.
Veiga was named La Liga’s Player of the Month for February, deservedly beating more established nominees like Frenkie de Jong and Eduardo Camavinga. Veiga scored twice in Celta’s 4-3 victory over Real Betis and bagged another brace – plus an assist – in a 3-0 mauling of Real Valladolid.
He earned a 10/10 from WhoScored for his performance against Valladolid, one of only 10 players in La Liga to have received a perfect score from the football stats site this season.
🔥 Gabri Veiga vs Valladolid
— La Vitrina ®️ (@LaVitrina1923) February 27, 2023
Such is his precocious quality, it’s no wonder that Celta fans are starting to worry about losing their star prospect this summer. The Spanish Football Podcast have even started a tongue-in-cheek campaign on social media to pretend he’s rubbish and ward off the sharks.
The unfortunate reality for Celta and Spanish football aficionados is that Veiga already looks greatly in demand. Reports from Spain suggest that he has a £35million release clause – and Arsenal have been frequently linked with the rising star.
Newcastle United and Manchester United are also said to be tracking his progress. It’s a wonder Barcelona haven’t been linked yet, but suffice to say we’re all for him moving to the Premier League. Think of the technical Spanish magicians that have lit up English football over the past couple of decades, from Cesc Fabregas to Santi Cazorla, David Silva, Juan Mata, Pablo Hernandez and Thiago Alcantara today. There are footsteps to follow.
But Veiga offers something a bit different to the classic mesmeric metronome that the Spanish game is famous for producing. There’s more dynamism in the final third. Eight goals and three assists so far this season are testament to that.
However, his best moment yet – well, the moment that caught our eye because we’re sentimental nostalgists – wasn’t reminiscent of the Premier League’s greatest midfield maestros but rather a wizard who spent almost his entire career in Spain – Guti.
He was cruelly robbed of an assist because Aspas failed to convert, but against Villarreal the youngster pulled off a perfect Guti-esque backheel to tee up the striker. This kid has cojones.
“In my career I’ve only seen one or two players who have the characteristics of Veiga,” said his coach Carvalhal.
“He is a very complete player. He has a different profile to all the other midfielders in Spain, who are usually about touch and possession. Gabri breaks games open.”
It will be fascinating to see what’s next for one of the brightest talents of European football. He looks a perfect fit for Arteta’s Arsenal but looks capable of slotting into any number of Europe’s top clubs.
But for now let’s just enjoy the wonderful spectacle of Veiga shining so brightly for the club he loves.
By Nestor Watach