Ilias Akhomach: Is Barcelona’s wonderkid winger really ‘the new Messi’?-ZellaNews


Back in 2008, when Pep Guardiola managed Barcelona for the primary time at Camp Nou, he named a shock debutant in his beginning line-up.

Having misplaced his opening sport away at Numancia, the Catalan coach introduced in 20-year-old defensive midfielder Sergio Busquets to assist shore issues up for the Blaugrana at house to Racing Santander.

And although the introduction of Busquets didn’t result in victory in that sport, which led to a 1-1 draw, it did assist set the foundations for Guardiola’s success at Barca, as the present Spain captain rapidly grew to become a lynchpin for his midfield mentor.

Many Barcelona followers are hopeful that Xavi will be the second coming of Guardiola as a coach, and so maybe it shouldn’t have come as a shock to see the group’s new supervisor additionally spring a variety shock on his house debut.

More than just a few eyebrows had been raised when winger Ilias Akhomach was named in Xavi’s first beginning XI for the derby towards Espanyol on November 20, significantly given the truth that {the teenager} had by no means even made the matchday squad underneath Ronald Koeman.

But given La Masia is as soon as once more on the forefront of the membership’s philosophy underneath president Joan Laporta, it maybe ought to have been no shock that one of many academy’s star performers lately must be given such a stage to make his skilled bow.

Ilias has lengthy been one of many nice hopes of La Masia , with the 17-year-old having been a standout within the membership’s outrageously gifted 2004-born era, which has already seen Gavi graduate to the senior ranks.

And although Ilias’ call-up was partly on account of accidents suffered by Ansu Fati, Ousmane Dembele and Martin Braithwaite, he seems to be set to comply with Gavi and play a component in Xavi’s revolution in Catalunya.

Born to Moroccan mother and father, Ilias joined the Barca youth ranks at a really younger age, solely to be launched by the membership at across the time his age group was shifting from seven-a-side video games to 11-a-side.

He was picked up by native aspect Gimnastic Manresa, the place he performed for 4 years earlier than Barca got here crawling again in 2017, just for different elite golf equipment to additionally present an curiosity.

“He had a number of golf equipment from Europe taking a look at him at the moment,” his agent, Horacio Gaggioli, advised Cadena SER, whereas additionally confirming that Real Madrid had been one of many events.

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Ilias, nonetheless, solely ever needed to characterize Barca, and has spent the final 4 years making up for misplaced time as he has made his means via the assorted age-group sides.

He first got here to wider consideration in 2019 when, throughout an interview with Cadena SER, then-academy director Patrick Kluivert claimed that he had “discovered the new [Lionel] Messi”, with Ilias’ capacity to tackle full-backs and lower inside from the fitting onto his left foot resembling the six-time Ballon d’Or winner at his easiest.

An enormous weight to placed on the shoulders of 1 so younger, and one Ilias will probably carry with him no matter whether or not he turns into a key participant at Barca or not.

“Ilias is just not the new Messi and even when he was, it shouldn’t be stated,” Gaggioli stated of the feedback. “Being Messi is virtually unattainable.

“He is a good participant with monumental potential. They prepare him effectively at Barcelona, and he has a really clear head. He is simply interested by soccer.”

Those Messi-like attributes have been on present within the early months of the 2021-22 season for each membership and nation, with Ilias having dedicated to representing Spain regardless of his household’s Moroccan heritage.

In simply his fourth begin for Barcelona B, Ilias scored twice towards Sevilla Atletico in early November, first selecting up house between the full-back and centre-back to position a right-footed shot into the underside nook, earlier than a rasping left-footed shot proved too sizzling to deal with for the opposition goalkeeper as he introduced up his brace earlier than half-time.

If it was the footage from that sport that persuaded Xavi at hand him his alternative, then Ilias might barely have timed his first objectives within the third tier of Spanish soccer any higher.

“He is a winger who goes each methods when confronted with one-on-ones,” defined Xavi’s brother and assistant coach, Oscar Hernandez, after Ilias’ promotion to the first-team squad was confirmed.

“Because of our sport mannequin, we want a participant like that. He deserves the chance.”

Ilias’ first alternative did solely final 45 minutes as he was changed at half-time, and after being pressured to take a seat out the Champions League draw with Benfica on account of a crimson card picked up within the UEFA Youth League, he was solely a substitute towards Villarreal on Saturday.

It is felt that the diminutive teen might want to ultimately bulk up as he takes his subsequent steps within the sport, however when the ball is at his toes there are few extra thrilling kids anyplace in Spain proper now, and Xavi already is aware of it.

Whether he can hit the heights of a participant like Busquets (or Messi) stays to be seen, however there isn’t a doubt that Ilias’ is a journey value monitoring.

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