21st February, 2022
Barcelona coach Xavi hailed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after the former Arsenal man netted a hat-trick in Barcelona’s 4-1 hammering of Valencia on Sunday.
The Gabon striker netted either side of Frenkie De Jong’s tap-in to give Barca a 3-0 half-time lead, before completing his treble in bizarre circumstances on the hour-mark, after Carlos Soler had pulled one back for Valencia.
Barcelona’s fourth goal of Sunday’s LaLiga contest was originally credited to Pedri, but has since been awarded to the 32-year-old, who got the slightest of touches on the youngster’s long-range effort.
It was the first time Aubameyang, who was making his first LaLiga start, has scored multiple goals in a league game since he helped himself to a hat-trick for Arsenal against Leeds United 12 months ago, and Xavi was thrilled with the forward’s contribution.
“He has scored goals his entire career,” he said.
“It was to be expected that he would score here soon too. He goes very well to [find] space, he is mature, he is very intelligent.
“I am delighted with him. These goals will be very good for him.”
Aubameyang’s opening goal made him just the fourth player to score in the Spanish, English, German, and French top flights this century, after Stevan Jovetic, Michy Batshuayi, and James Rodriguez.
The striker also became the first Gabonese player to net in LaLiga.
Barca captain Busquets was equally effusive in his praise for his new team-mate.
“He is working very well, he arrived with a lack of minutes, but he is getting them [now]. He is a great player and it is a luxury to have him in the squad, [especially] after arriving for free,” Busquets said.
“Without Aubameyang’s help, perhaps the goalkeeper would have been able to stop it [Barcelona’s fourth goal].”
Although Pedri saw the final goal of the match taken away from him, the quality of his initial strike did not go unnoticed by Xavi, who said the midfielder is amongst the most talented players in world football.
“He is superlative,” the Barca boss said. “At that level of talent, there is no other [player] in the world like Pedri, and he is only 19 years old.
“We ask him to shoot [more often]. We demand it, he has a good shot. He is very young and shy, but not everyone has the skills he has.”
Barcelona moved into LaLiga’s top four with the win, scoring four or more goals in a single away league game against Valencia for the first time since December 1993.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 21, 2022