What Happened to the Israeli Messi Gai Assulin

Gai Assulin found too much pressure being labelled the “next Messi”

A star player in Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona B team Assulin was labelled the next superstar to come from the La Messa academy and even called the ‘Israeli Messi’ due to his similar style of play.

But comparisons with the Barcelona legend proved too much and Assulin failed to live up to early expectations and now admits that there was too much pressure on him after a number of failed moves.

Starting his career at Hapoel Haifa, Assulin joined Barcelona in 2003 aged 12 and won the 2007-08 Spanish 3rd division with Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona B team.

Broke Ben Sahar’s record to become the youngest player to represent the Israeli national team by 195 days when he made his debut as a substitute in the 78th minute a friendly against Chile, 14 days before his 17th birthday.

Following an injury and one first team appearance, Barcelona offered Assulin a new three-year contract but he turned it down as he was not guaranteed him first-team football.

Assulin left Barcelona by mutual consent in 2010 to join Manchester City on a two-and-a-half-year deal but his chances limited. He joined Brighton on a short term deal in February 2012, finishing his loan spell without scoring a goal in 7 games.

Was released from Manchester City in May 2012 without making a first team appearance.

Signed for Santander on a one-year-deal and having a good season scoring 3 goals in 26 games before a number of disappointing spells at Granada, Hércules, Mallorca and return to Israel with Hapoel Tel Aviv.

Trained with Glasgow Rangers in October 2015 but did not do enough to win a contract before moving back to Spain joining CE Sabadell FC to try and revive his career.

While a youngster at Barcelona B, Messi was labelled the ‘next Maradona’ before going on to become one of the best players in history and there will be many more young players to be tagged with the ‘next Messi’ label before we finally see a player of his quality




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Football has been my ultimate passion since day one. Football really started becoming a huge part of my life when I was 14, but with the Internet not being as prominent at the time, I had a hard time finding pertinent information. And this is exactly how Football-Wonderkids came about. As the website’s Founder, I’m on a mission to curate information on current youth players across the globe and make it readily available all in one place.

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