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The best player under the age of 21 for 2022. That is the award that has been given to Barça midfielder Gavi at this year's Ballon d'Or gala. The 18 year old received the prize after an excellent season in 2021/22 in which he became a fixture in the blaugrana midfield.
The Andalusian arrived at the club to join the youth teams but soon his talent and character led him to the first team where this season's Kopa Trophy is recognition of his arrival amongst the world's footballing elite.
"Thanks to my lifetime club"
On collecting the award, Gavi said "I want to thank my family, my agent and everyone at La Masia. Also Barça, my lifetime club and my team-mates, and the national team, and my coaches. I wouldn't be here without them... Visca el Barça".
Also onstage with him was last year's winner Pedri, who said of Gavi, "it makes me proud to see him here. I spend so many hours with him and I see everything he does, how he gives everything in every training session, in every game. It's an honour to play with him and I hope we can play on together for many years."
A prize decided by the greats
The magazine France Football introduced the Kopa Trophy four years ago for the best player under the age of 21. The prize is named after the French footballer Raymond Kopa, the first French man to win the Ballon d'Or. Previous winners are Kylian Mbappé, Matthijs de Ligt and Gavi's Barça team mate Pedri, who took the trophy in 2021.
The winner of the Kopa Trophy is chosen by a special jury comprising of former Ballon d'Or winners with the likes of Leo Messi, Ronaldinho, Franz Beckenbauer and Rivaldo also taking part in selecting the best young player for the season.
A season in stats
In August 2021 in a game against Getafe at Camp Nou, a 17 year old Gavi made his first appearance for the first team in official competition. Just over a year later Gavi has established himself as a vital member of Xavi Hernández's first team squad.
His excellent performances at club level earned him a debut for the Spanish national side in October of 2021 when he became the youngest player ever to represent the country at just 17 years and 62 days.
In 47 matches, Gavi scored six goals and created five assists over the whole campaign, enough to earn him the Kopa Trophy for 2022.
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