Skip to Content

Meet Pau Cubarsi, Youngest Defender to Feature in UCL Knockout Game: Age, Contract, More

Meet Pau Cubarsi, Youngest Defender to Feature in UCL Knockout Game: Age, Contract, More

Ever since Xavi has announced his departure at the end of the season, FC Barcelona seems to have unleashed their inner demons on the pitch.

Not only have Barcelona triumphed over Napoli to secure their spot in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals for the first time in four years, but they have also surpassed Girona in the league table to claim the second position, putting pressure on Real Madrid in the La Liga title race.

And to think that Barcelona achieved all this despite enduring a long list of injury woes to their key players. But as always, when it comes to their savior, Barcelona turns to their youth academy – La Masia. The conveyor belt of promising players seems never-ending.

Following the emergence of sensational talents like Lamine Yamal, it appears that La Masia has once again churned out yet another promising prospect for the future, this time in the form of defender- Pau Cubarsi.

Pau Cubarsi has fast-tracked his way into the Barcelona first team, much to the surprise of many. The lanky center-back has capitalized on the Blaugrana’s injury crisis and has emerged as a promising presence in the backline.

In fact, Barcelona has now kept four consecutive clean sheets in La Liga and has conceded only three goals in their last seven matches across all competitions, with the La Masia defender playing a pivotal role in this defensive solidity.

Cubarsi has just recently turned 17 years old but the way he plays you could easily mistake him for a veteran.

Curbarsi also became the youngest player to debut at 17 years and 50 days in the Champions League knockout stages, earning unanimous praise. I mean, which other teenager can you name that can pocket seasoned strikers like Osimhen on his own and grab the MVP in a UCL round of 16 match?

Dubbed jokingly as ‘Franz Beckenbauer Cubarsi’ by his peers, Pau Cubarsi has also impressed senior players at Barcelona with his mature style of play. Sergi Roberto, the veteran Barcelona midfielder and captain, lauded Cubarsi, stating, “It’s one of those players for life, another one that comes from La Masia. When we say that this club is more than a club, it’s because of things like this, because of this belief in the home-grown players.”

But how is it that suddenly a player who had no experience of professional football just a year prior has made it into the Barcelona starting lineup and has even become a crucial puzzle piece in no time? For that, let’s take a look into his background.

Pau Cubarsi’s emergence into the limelight

Like many La Masia academy graduates, Cubarsi also has roots in Catalonia. Born on January 22nd, 2007, Cubarsi hails from Espanyol, a small Catalan village on the outskirts of Girona with fewer than 200 inhabitants, which has neither a school nor a football team.

He grew up in a family of carpenters. Their family company, Fusteria Cubarsi, is based in Espanyol and was founded 105 years ago, with the footballer’s parents being the fourth generation leading the business. He has always been close to the family business, even helping out with work.

Cubarsi’s football odyssey commenced at his hometown club Bescano but, at the age of seven, Girona recruited him to their youth system. His defensive skills, leadership, and competitive mentality caught the eye of Barca’s scouts and within three years, they recruited him to La Masia in 2018, when he was just 11 years old.

His extraordinary talent led him to quickly climb up the ranks and become FC Barcelona’s third-youngest player to debut in the UEFA Youth League at the age of 15 years, nine months, and eight days. He captained youth sides at multiple levels, wearing the armband for Under-13, U-15, and U-17 teams. He has also played 12 games in the Barcelona U-19 teams.

Cubarsi’s first big moment came in the UEFA Youth League in 2022 when became the third-youngest Barca player to make an appearance when he saw the pitch against Viktoria Plzen in 2022.

Cubarsi’s debut for Barcelona felt like a matter of time, and unsurprisingly, Xavi Hernández took note. Cubarsi was named in the squad for FC Barcelona’s pre-season preparations, before he was called up by the Spanish U-17 national team to feature in the 2023 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Indonesia.

On his return from international duty, Cubarsi joined the Barcelona first team. Just four days before his 17th birthday, he was given the nod by Xavi in a Copa del Rey clash against Unionistas de Salamanca CF. Shortly after, he made his LaLiga debut as a starter at the Estadio Benito Villamarín in a convincing 4-2 win against Real Betis.

Standing at 1.82 meters tall, the FC Barcelona prodigy dominated the aerial duels and contributed significantly to the team’s build-up play. He looked anything but shy on the pitch, breaking the lines with direct passes towards the midfielders. Since then, he has remained in the senior squad, appearing in nine straight games and starting six in a row, forming a steady partnership with Ronald Araujo.

Xavi appears notably impressed with his discovery of this teenage talent. Discussing the defender, the Barcelona manager remarked, “He’s very well prepared. He doesn’t seem 16 when you speak with him. He is a focused and responsible kid. I don’t think he lost a single ball, either.”

“Cubarsi doesn’t get nervous. That’s in his favor. His delivery of the ball is brutal. He has that calmness and that pause, a lot of links with interiors. It’s a spectacle to see him.” Xavi added.

Xavi went further to conclude his statement with a bold assertion, declaring, “he’s going to leave his mark on an era.”

Now, that might still be a bit far-fetched, there’s no denying the satisfaction Barcelona fans must feel witnessing the emergence of this exceptional talent. In fact, they haven’t had a top-tier center-back emerge from La Masia in years. Statistically, Cubarsi averages 1.9 tackles and 3.7 clearances per 90. Moreover, his buils-up play is equally impressive with an average 4.5 long balls contribution per 90.

Consequently, there has been ongoing speculation about the young defender being likened to another esteemed La Masia graduate, Gerard Piqué.

Reports have even suggested that Xavi himself has expressed his belief that Cubarsi could eventually step into Piqué’s shoes. While these reports can be taken with a grain of salt, it’s evident that fans on social media fervently support this notion.

However, Cubarsi’s U-13 manager, Albert Puig, holds a different perspective, drawing comparisons between Cubarsi and another revered figure from Barcelona’s La Masia, none other than the iconic captain, Carles Puyol.

“He’s brilliant at anticipating and reading the game and goes into every duel with full power. He is aggressive because he loves it. Pau has the heart of a defender and would give everything to block a shot or intercept a pass. In that regard, you could compare him to Carles Puyol,” said Albert Puig, speaking to The Athletic.

“Pau’s build-up is extremely clean,” Puig added. “He can drive the ball up, thread passes to midfielders in the inside pockets but also send long balls to the opposite winger to provide the team with width and shake their opponents around”.

Well, those are some big shoes to fill for a 17-year-old, isn’t it?

Cubarsi’s Contractual Details

If the honey is as sweet as Cubarsi, the honeybees are bound to come. According to Catalan-based outlet, Sport, Manchester United, alongside rivals Manchester City, Arsenal, and Chelsea, are monitoring the 17-year-old.

However, that is easier said than done because Barcelona will surely prioritize securing the talented defender for their future. Presently, Cubarsi’s contract runs until June, 2026, with a modest release clause of just €10 million (£8.5 million). Nevertheless, Mundo Deportivo reports suggest that Barcelona aims to negotiate an extension until 2030, accompanied by a staggering buyout clause set at €1 billion.

Interestingly, there’s a legal obstacle for the Premier League quartet, as Brexit regulations prohibit them from signing an official contract with Cubarsi until he turns 18. However, given his burgeoning talent, it wouldn’t be surprising if a tug-of-war ensues among teams vying for the defender.

It remains to be seen what the future holds. For the time being, he is being managed by the agent, Jose Maria Orobitg, from Tactic Grup, who also manages a number of Barcelona players including their captain, Sergi Roberto.

Cubarsi’s FC 24 and FM 24 rating

If you have seen him play in the last couple of matches for Barcelona, it’s quite plausible that the thought of including him in their EA FC 24 squad have crossed your mind.

And that is surely a sound idea, with the Barcelona jersey number 25 having a potential of an impressive 78 despite his current rating being 62. And it is surely to rise from here on. Pau Cubarsi in FC 24 has 2 Skill moves and 4 Weak Foot; he is Right-footed, and his work rates are Medium. In the game, his value is set at £789K, with a weekly wage of just £683.

Moreover, in FM 24, the midfielder is rated surprisingly low at 53. His sell value is set at £83,21,372, and his release clause is £4,28,40,580, with a weekly wage of £691.

Having said that, these stats are bound to climb significantly in the upcoming seasons. With his impressive performances at the U17 World Cup for La Roja and in the Blaugrana colors, Cubarsi has been called up by Luis de la Fuente for the first time for the Spain’s friendlies ahead of this summer’s European championship in Germany.

Now, it remains to be seen if Cubarsi can maintain this impressive form and stay focused amidst all this buzz. Well, the defender has a long way to go, but his early signs are promising.