Rosa Porriño, a special granite produced in the Porrinno municipality of Vigo’s metropolitan area has captivated many by its sleek design & simplistic beauty. The granite radiates a sense of trust and has become quintessential in homes across not only Europe but also Japan & China. So, perhaps it was fate that in our first edition of uncut gems, we’d discuss Gabriel “Gabri” Veiga, Vigo’s latest sensation who personifies his homeland’s qualities operating in Celta’s midfield.
Name: Gabriel Veiga.
Position: Central Midfielder.
Preferred Foot: Right.
Current Club: Celta Vigo.
VEIGA’S STYLE OF PLAY:
A long reign of mediocrity breeds chaos. Given the rather stagnant tactics of Coudet before his inevitable sacking, Gabri’s exponential growth in a barren midfield has been even more impressive than usual. In his breakthrough season, the youngster aided by an excellent first touch has adapted to many roles in the midfield. His ability to maneuver in between lines without being caught & drive forward has led to him being favored as an ‘8’ under Carlos Carvalhal’s new reign in the dugout of Celta Vigo as manager.
To shoulder the burden of carrying an entire team’s creativity at the age of 20 demands great maturity. Fortunately for Celta, Gabri refuses to back down from a challenge. The Galician’s desire to occupy zones in between lines makes him a constant outlet for his teammates to play the ball to. Once he receives the ball, Gabri’s technical ability on the ball and swiftness allow him to turn away from his marker and push past them. In his presence, mid-block teams in LaLiga have often suffered due to his innate ability to dribble past multiple players simultaneously.
However, unlike his peers in the league like Pedri & Gavi with whom he often draws comparisons, Gabri rarely drops deep to collect the ball and progress with it. Initially, when he did, the team suffered higher up the pitch due to lack of quality in options in progression & passing. As a result, Veiga has been restricted to a much more attacking role in the final third.
In his new role, the midfielder has found himself an even more lethal weapon to add to his armory. Whenever Gabri has found himself in and around zone 14, the midfielder hasn’t been afraid to shoot for goal. His accuracy & strength in these long shots have resulted in a ridiculous 9 goals in LaLiga this season.
Playing for a team which often struggles to retain the ball, it becomes a requisite for a midfielder to improve his game out of possession, too. In his breakthrough season, Gabri has constantly showed immense stamina to win the ball back especially in the middle of the park and stop attacks. His competence in intercepting passes and winning the ball has also resulted in the creation of several goal scoring opportunities.
In Spain’s streets where technical players are born reviewing the clips of the iconic Xavi, Iniesta, in Gabri Veiga is another midfielder gifted with loads of technical ability. Till now, except for a few poor decisions, Veiga has showcased his ability to become a crucial cornerstone for any team as an ‘8’.
Positioning + Movement:
Deployed almost always on the right of the midfield, even a cursory look at his heatmap reveals his strong presence in the right inside channel & zone 14. In these areas, Gabri tends to drop in between lines to receive passes from his teammates and progress the ball. As he progresses higher up, he tries to link with Iago Aspas near the edge of the box and sometimes makes his way into the box. Although he prefers to rely on his dribbling abilities to progress the ball, his 4.78 progressive passes p90 highlight his importance in the right side of the midfield.
On the occasions when he doesn’t look to part with the ball, his impressive ability to progress the ball guides him and Celta towards the opposition’s goal. Averaging 2.92
Progressive carries p90, Gabri’s importance to the team is easily highlighted. To put this into context, he ranks in the 93rd percentile of the stat amongst other midfielders across Europe. Furthermore, the Galician has also averaged 0.62 carries into the penalty area per game justifying his increasing presence in the penalty area. A crucial cog in achieving Celta’s ambition to moving towards goal & scoring.
Passing + Creativity:
Critics of the 20-year-old have already alleged that passing is Gabri’s kryptonite. At first the stats support the comments of critics but a deeper dive into the context surrounding the stats reveal an entirely different picture. On an average the Galician completes 76% of his passes, which for many isn’t impressive. However, it is important to remember his nature of playing line breaking passes to break down the opposition while analyzing his passing. Furthermore, given Celta’s structure, often the attacking midfielder finds himself isolated, making Gabri attempt tougher passes to complete.
An interesting aspect of Gabriel Veiga’s game till now has been his ability to a plethora of opportunities despite Celta’s shortcomings in retaining possession. Averaging only 16 passes a game, nearly ¼ of his passes are progressive showcasing his impressive forward drive. This season, the midfielder has enabled an impressive 56 SCA & a further 7 GCA while picking up 3 assists. In context, among his peers in the league, only a handful, that too mostly experienced midfielders in the league, have managed to emulate the youngster. His ability to drive into the box and create chaos leads to spaces for his teammates to step into and take shots.
Revolutions are undertaken by those brave enough to challenge norms. Gabriel Veiga swears by redefining roles. The attacking midfielder has already been tasked with shouldering the creative output of the team but on the path, he has picked up the challenge of scoring, too. Amassing an impressive 9 goals in his breakthrough season, the youngster is only behind veteran Iago Aspas (12goals) in terms of goals for Celta. The Galician has evidently spent hours perfecting his long range efforts and his average shot distance of 19.3 yards is proof. Out of his 9 goals scored, 4 have been scored from out of the box. Furthermore, the youngster has also been working on shooting with both feet. Exciting times lie ahead.
OUT OF POSSESSION:
This season, Celta has often suffered out of possession. Over the second half of the season however, Gabri has put in a much greater shift in defense than before. He has honed his ability to tackle without making rash errors. Furthermore, his positioning has also improved and he has been crucial for Celta in intercepting dangerous moves from rivals this season.
For more than a decade, LaLiga has been home to some of the best technical players. Gabriel Veiga’s exponential growth this season has been enabled by his impressive technicality. Shouldering the responsibility of a club like Celta Vigo is certainly not easy but haste in his development could prove counterproductive. A couple of more years in the league without the pressure of playing his trade for a big team could polish this uncut gem into one of the finest jewels in world football.
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