Soccer-Barca teenager Gavi gets shock Spain call up for Nations League finals

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Champions League - Group E - FC Barcelona vs Bayern Munich - Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain - September 14, 2021 Bayern Munich's Leon Goretzka in action with FC Barcelona's Gavi REUTERS/Albert Gea

MADRID (Reuters) -Barcelona's 17-year-old midfielder Gavi has been handed a surprise call up by Spain coach Luis Enrique for the Nations League Final Four tournament in Italy next month.

Gavi, who has only featured for Spain at junior levels previously and turned 17 in August, has made just two LaLiga starts for the Catalans this term. However, he has done enough across his six appearances in all competitions to impress Luis Enrique and earn a spot in the 23-man squad.

"For me it would be a risk to pick a youngster who you have doubts about if they can compete at the level, but this with Gavi isn't the case," Luis Enrique said.

"Maybe it's too soon for a call-up, but maybe he'll start against Italy - it all depends on what I see in training. What I've seen so far, I like. I've known him for a long time and we'll see how he adapts to the national team."

Villarreal's 18-year-old forward Yeremy Pino is another uncapped name included by Luis Enrique, who is without regulars Alvaro Morata, Gerard Moreno, Thiago Alcantara and Sergio Ramos through injury.

The two teenagers are joined by fellow Barca youngsters Pedri, who has recovered from a thigh injury, and Eric Garcia in a squad that includes four from the Camp Nou side despite their poor start to the season.

Once again there are no Real Madrid players included despite them being top of LaLiga.

Elsewhere, Chelsea's Marcos Alonso's fine start to the season has been rewarded with a recall and he is in line to add to his three caps which all came in 2018.

Atletico Madrid utility man Marcos Llorente is included as a forward despite usually playing fullback for his country, while David de Gea will be hoping his stellar start to the campaign will earn him a spot in the XI once again.

Spain face hosts Italy in Milan next Wednesday for a place in the final on Oct. 10. Belgium face France on Thursday in the other semi-final.

Squad in full:

Goalkeepers: Unai Simon (Athletic Bilbao), David De Gea (Man Utd), Robert Sanchez (Brighton).

Defenders: Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Pedro Porro (Sporting Lisbon), Eric Garcia (Barcelona), Aymeric Laporte (Man City), Inigo Martinez (Athletic Bilbao), Pau Torres (Villarreal), Sergio Reguillon (Tottenham), Marcos Alonso (Chelsea).

Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Rodrigo (Man City), Pedri (Barcelona), Mikel Merino (Real Sociedad), Koke (Atletico Madrid), Gavi (Barcelona).

Forwards: Ferran Torres (Man City), Pablo Sarabia (Sporting Lisbon), Mikel Oyarzabal (Real Sociedad), Pablo Fornals (West Ham), Marcos Llorente (Atletico Madrid), Yeremy Pino (Villarreal).

(Reporting by Joseph WalkerEditing by Robert Birsel and Toby Davis)

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