Make way. It is the season of generational change, time for the youngest to step forward and the veterans to step back. Barcelona coach Xavi is clear that he will be governed by meritocracy, without taking into account the name or the age of players when it comes to selection. Saturday’s game against Elche was another example of this.
The average age of the 11 players who were on the pitch at the time the referee signaled the end of the match was 22.6 years. If we only count the outfield players, leaving out Ter Stegen (at 30, the oldest at the time), the average drops to 21.9 years.
In fact, the match ended with four players under the age of 20: Balde (18), Gavi (18), Pedri (19) and Ansu Fati (19). What’s more, of the 13 youngest players in the squad, nine of them finished the game against the Elche. To those previously mentioned, we can add Ferran Torres (22), Araujo (23), Kounde (23), De Jong (25) and Raphinha (25). Eric Garcia (21) started, but was replaced by Bellerín, while Dembélé (25) and Kessie (25) also came off.
Piqué is still the oldest in the group (35) and is experiencing his most atypical season: from being one of the leaders of the defense last season to being the fifth central defender in the squad.
Busquets (34) rested om Saturday and Lewandowski (34) was substituted 20 minutes from the end. Jordi Alba (33) is still being sidelined, with Marcos Alonso (31) not coming on and Sergi Roberto (30) injured.