Premier League • England

Gabri Veiga: Why Liverpool want the next Spanish superstar – and everything you need to know about him

Gabri Veiga of RC Celta de Vigo celebrate his goal during the match between Real Betis Balompie and RC Celta de Vigo of La Liga Santander on February 4, 2022 at Benito Villamarin in Sevilla, Spain

Gabri Veiga has been taking La Liga by storm in 2023 and the midfielder’s form has caught the attention of Liverpool – but what about him appeals to the Premier League club?

TEAMtalk exclusively revealed on Monday, May 15 that Liverpool have become the leading candidates to sign Veiga from Celta de Vigo this summer. Jurgen Klopp’s side will be able to sign him by activating a €40m (£35m) release clause in his contract.

Strengthening in midfield is a priority for Liverpool this summer, which is why they have stepped up their interest in Veiga.

He could be an exciting signing for Liverpool, but if the move does go through, what kind of player will the Reds be getting?

Here’s everything you need to know about the Spanish superstar in the making and why Liverpool have put him so high on their wish list.

Gabri Veiga: The story so far

Born in the Vigo town of O Porrino in May 2002, Veiga’s discovery of football was a rather unique case. Believe it or not, he first got the idea of being a footballer when feeling compelled to kick around a pumpkin at his uncle’s house.

Ultimately progressing to more orthodox ways of honing his talents, he worked his way through the Celta youth ranks from the age of 11 before making his debut for their reserve team in the Spanish third tier as a 17-year-old in August 2019.

Thirteen months later, Veiga made his first-team bow for Celta in a La Liga win over Valencia. It was the first of six appearances in the Spanish top flight for Veiga in the 2020-21 season, including a start against Barcelona in October 2020.

The following season was instrumental for Veiga’s development. He scored nine goals from 31 appearances for Celta B, also adding another 10 first-team appearances to his collection.

But it is the current campaign in which Veiga has exploded. In September 2022, he scored for the Celta first team for the first time, beating Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Ivo Grbic at his nearpost. Further goals against Real Betis and Almeria – both from outside the box – bookended the following month.

Recognition for his rise came in November when Luis de la Fuente gave him his debut for Spain’s under-21 national team. De la Fuente is now in charge of Spain’s senior side, and Veiga will likely be on his radar.

Since January 11, Veiga has become a permanent fixture of the first team for Celta, leaving his B-team days behind him. And he has not looked back.

In February 2023, Veiga won La Liga’s player of the month award after scoring a brace against Betis, starting matches against Atletico Madrid and Real Sociedad, and then playing a part in every goal (scoring two and assisting one) in a 3-0 win over Real Valladolid.

Strengths and style of play

Gabri Veiga of Celta Vigo is wanted by Liverpool

So far, earning that accolade has been the pinnacle of Veiga’s blossoming career, but he seems well equipped for bigger success.

Expressing confidence with his dribbling and shooting abilities, he is building up quite the highlights reel.

For example, his goal against Real Betis on October 2 was well hit, like an arrow into the bottom corner from outside the box.

Later that month, his goal against Almeria on October 29 was a first-time rocket from the edge of the penalty area, clipping the underside of the crossbar and nestling in the net.

He also showed some more finesse with dinked finishes against Sevilla on December 30 and Betis on February 4.

Of course, his goalscoring exploits have caught the eye, but Veiga brings more to the table.

Often staying in an upright stance while dribbling, he can see things unfold around him before utilising his passing ability to exploit spaces.

Able to change direction nimbly, he is a threat to opponents with the ball at his feet. Confident with either his left or right foot, his technique stands out.

Although not a defensive midfielder, Veiga is not afraid of the physical side of the game either, which could boost his chances of making an impact in the Premier League.

Previous links with other clubs

Liverpool are not the only club to have been enthralled by Veiga’s dazzling displays in recent months.

According to our information, they are ahead of the likes of Real Madrid, Arsenal, Manchester City and Man Utd in the race to sign him this summer. Madrid seem to have moved on from him in favour of Jude Bellingham, though.

Arsenal had previously been regarded as strong contenders for his signature thanks to Mikel Arteta being their manager.

There have also been claims that Newcastle have been watching him, as well as AC Milan, Napoli and Tottenham. Lower-ranking potential suitors like Leeds United and Bournemouth may have missed their chance.

In March, a feeling began to emerge that Liverpool have been doing serious work on signing Veiga, which we understand could now come to fruition.

With Liverpool ready to release James Milner, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, as well as returning Arthur Melo to Juventus, there are roles in their midfield waiting to be grabbed.

Veiga can now eye one of those vacancies for himself, subsequently hoping to make a better impression than the only other player to ever move from Celta to Liverpool – his current teammate Iago Aspas, who is the all-time leading scorer and appearance maker for the Galician side despite his struggles on Merseyside in between two spells with the club.

There will be multiple arrivals at Anfield this summer to strengthen the midfield pool that Jurgen Klopp can pick from. Should everything go to plan, the prospect of Veiga being one of them may well be worth getting excited about for Liverpool fans.

What he’s said

  • “I really want to continue growing in the RC Celta, which is what I consider my home and where I want to stay for many more years.”

May 2022, after signing a contract extension with the club until 2026

  • “We knew it was going to be a very tough season, but I prepared myself physically in the summer and everything is going well. Everything that is happening to me is a dream and I am living one of the happiest moments of my life.”

February 2023, after winning his fourth Celta player-of-the-month award of the season

What they’ve said about Gabri Veiga

  • “In my career I’ve only seen one or two players who have the characteristics of Veiga. He is a very complete player. He has a different profile to all the other midfielders in Spain, who are usually about touch and possession. Gabri breaks games open.”

Carlos Carvalhal, Celta de Vigo head coach, February 2023

  • “It is a stronger eruption than that of Iago [Aspas]… He has had a normal childhood and adolescence with his parents and his family, without all that noise of agents, brands or national teams knocking on his door. He has had a normal life… If instead of standing out with 18, he had stood out with 13, everything would have been very complicated for him.”

Carlos Hugo Garcia Bayon, Celta academy director, February 2023

  • “He is standing out above expectations and he has room for much more, he is going to get better. The best Gabri Veiga is yet to be seen.”

Fran Villa, Spanish agent, February 2023

  • “What I recommend to Gabri, who is very good and also very young, is that he stay at Celta for at least one more season. Next season is Celta’s centenary and I would like Gabri Veiga to continue with us. Then you can choose to play wherever you want, because his trajectory is fantastic. He is followed by great clubs, I know, but Gabri is 20 years old and has time ahead of him.”

Iago Aspas, Celta vice-captain, March 2023

  • “We don’t want to sell him, but they will buy him from us, there is nothing we can do. We know some of the offers he got and it’s impossible for us to match.”

Carlos Mourino, Celta  president, March 2023