Manchester City’s young loanees at City Football Group partner club Girona FC had a night they’ll never forget on Saturday with three of them in the starting lineup for Girona’s local derby against Barcelona.
Girona had very little chance of winning this game and indeed, they lost 3-0 to the Catalan giants, although two of the goals came from Girona players in the form of own goals.
Pablo Maffeo (20), Aleix García (20) and Douglas Luiz (19), three of the five players on loan from Man City, started the game, with the other two, Larry Kayode (24) and Marlos Moreno (21), making appearances later on as substitutes.
One of the most intriguing events of the game was Maffeo man marking Messi, a very specific task proven by the fact that Maffeo made only 5 passes in the 77 minutes he was on the pitch. And to his credit, he kept the world’s greatest footballer quiet by his standards. Messi neither scored or assisted a goal, a rarity for a player of his abilities.
After the game, Maffeo was asked what Messi said to him after man marking him.
The Spain under-21 international replied, “He asked me two things: if I was on loan from Man City and how old I was. It was all good.
“Messi told me ‘I have you for the day.’ I told him he’s the best player in the world and I would try my best to cover him.”
It’s not every week that Pablo Maffeo will come up against Lionel Messi, but it is a learning experience he will not forget. One of the reasons the CFG invested in Girona was to give City’s better prospects a high-level league to develop in, and there isn’t much of a higher level than playing opposite Barcelona.