Vigo (EFE).- In times of anxiety, the quarry has always been a way of escape and illusion for Celticism. It was in the times when Borja Oubiña settled in Celta de Mostovoi. Also when Iago Aspas broke into Balaídos to avoid relegation to Second Division B and, as a consequence, the more than likely disappearance of the club, drowning in a huge debt. And he does it now with Gabri Veiga.
Just when Celta is about to celebrate its centenary, estranged from the city mayor, immersed in a sporting crisis that has returned it to fight for relegation in recent years, aggravated by the departure of several homegrown players –Santi Mina, Denis Suárez, Rubén Blanco, Brais Méndez- and the almost certain captain Hugo Mallo.
The relay in Balaídos is guaranteed. Gabri Veiga is 20 years old, and his irruption in LaLiga has already caused the greats of European football to pay attention to him. For this reason, despite the fact that he extended his contract last year until 2026, Celta is working on improving his record, which would imply an increase in his clause, set so far at 40 million euros.
The Galician footballer is the new ambassador of the Celta brand. “His irruption of him is good at all levels, he adds value to your brand,” says Carlos Salvador, commercial director of the club for almost five years. Veiga’s sporting revaluation has been accompanied by greater interest from fans and commercial brands in him. The sale of shirts with the number 24 and his name has skyrocketed. Celticism adores him at a time of generational change, and outside of Vigo his name monopolizes all the spotlights, be it in Spain or on the Old Continent.
“All of this helps to increase your television audience, the number of fans, followers on social networks… and monitoring helps you generate more resources: new sponsorships, new markets…”, says the man who has revolutionized Celta’s commercial area .
The pandemic took its toll
The pandemic caused by the Covid-19 has destroyed many sports clubs. The losses are not just limited to endorsement, television and matchday income; also to the value of the players and the squads.
Celta, immersed in a notable investment in its GaliciaSports360 project, has not been oblivious to it. For this reason, even more so, his firm commitment to the quarry is his safest value. Veiga is the last pearl of the A Madroa factory, a player who represents like few others the values that President Carlos Mouriño has tried to impose since his arrival.
“Right now it is a brutal showcase for us,” says Carlos Salvador, aware of the follow-up that there is on the youth squad. Veiga brings enormous value to the Celta brand, which is why the communication department tries to protect him by avoiding his overexposure in the media.
“The idea is that he continues to take the natural steps for a boy his age, sometimes the spotlights of the media distract footballers who arrive very young in the First Division,” they point out from the sports management.
The Celta midfielder is the fashionable player in LaLiga, one of the youngsters with the greatest impact this season in European football. He has eight goals, two of them in his last game against Valladolid, and three assists in the 22 games he has played. The market value of him has skyrocketed to over 10 million.
“He is very young but he does things that seem like he has been playing in the First Division for fifteen years. And, even above, when he scores goals and there are good numbers, more people talk about you. But those of us who have known him since his childhood-cadet age already know that he had brutal potential ”, recalls Claudio Giráldez, a countryman of the midfielder, current coach of Celta B.
The young coach feels that Veiga is mentally prepared for this challenge: “He is a boy with mental stability and a family that supports him a lot. What surprises me the most is that some doubted that he would arrive because he has a privileged head.”
Giráldez, who also took a giant step forward in his career when he signed for Real Madrid in his adolescence, always trusted his countryman –both are from O Porriño-, whom he led in the youth team.
“We shared many hours in the car, it was like a kind of psychologist for him. We asked him not to compare himself to anyone, to focus on reaching professional football”, highlights the coach of the sky-blue subsidiary, who, like almost all the club’s workers, praises the “humility” of Gabri Veiga.
“From time to time he lets himself be seen by A Madroa and you see him sharing hugs with the base coaches. I think that humility is what makes him reach the top because without that humility a First Division dressing room devours you ”, points out Alex Otero, Celta’s base coordinator.
He is not without reason. The under-21 international, whom coach Luis De la Fuente already has on his radar for the senior team, continues to live with his parents in his town, where he usually goes to the bar with his friends to watch football, or to the festival of cinema that is held in the parish of Cans, the village of his grandparents. He doesn’t move in high-end cars either. He is the new symbol of Celta, its most global showcase after Aspas.