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Barcelona staff sees 18-year-old La Masia talent as very similar to La Liga midfielder Xavi likes

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Photo by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images

Barcelona are going into tonight’s La Liga game against Almeria without three of their first-choice midfielders in Gavi, Frenkie de Jong, and Pedri.

While Gavi is out for the remainder of the season due to an ACL rupture, Pedri misses out due to a muscle injury whereas De Jong is suspended for accumulation of cards.

As such, Xavi has been forced to dip into the reserve ranks to ensure there are enough options in midfield for the game, leading to call-ups for the likes of Marc Casado, Pau Prim, and Unai Hernandez.

Barcelona coaches believe Unai is the closest thing to Alex Baena

There may be opportunities to play for one or more of the aforementioned young talents, all of whom are rated highly by Barcelona.

In fact, Ferran Martinez of Mundo Deportivo is reporting that the Barça coaching staff consider young Unai Hernandez as the closest thing at the club to Villarreal’s Alex Baena – a midfielder that Xavi likes a lot.

The teenager has been a part of La Masia for just over a year, having arrived from Girona’s academy last year, but is already making big waves.

Unai, 18, is already a regular for Barça Atletic despite his young age, and has already scored and assisted three goals apiece from 14 appearances in the RFEF Primera Division.

The youngster has trained quite regularly with the senior team in recent times and has already been named in the La Liga matchday squad three times before tonight.

An attack-minded midfielder with an eye for a goal and versatile enough to play on the flanks, Unai is seen as a special talent who is similar to Alex Baena – one of Xavi’s preferred targets for the midfield.

Xavi and Laporta fans of Baena

Alex Baena has admirers at Barcelona. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

It is no secret that Barcelona will go for a new pivot and potentially an interior midfielder in the summer. And Baena is one of the names on the club’s list for the latter role.

The 22-year-old Spaniard is a player that Xavi likes a lot, owing to his ability to play in a multitude of positions and the potential he has showcased.

It has been even suggested that Barcelona president Joan Laporta is also an admirer of the Villarreal midfielder and believes that he has the ‘Barça DNA’.

Whether it leads to a move in the summer remains to be seen. But for tonight, the Catalans must make do with Unai, who may get an opportunity to make his senior debut.

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