Who is Gianluca Prestianni? Barcelona's inbound Lionel Messi successor

Stuart Telford
Stuart Telford
  • Updated: 17 Jan 2023 19:25 GMT
  • 4 min read
Gianluca Prestianni

Barcelona appear to have given up hope of bringing Lionel Messi back to the club, but they are looking to the future with another diminutive, left-footed, Argentine attacker in the shape of Velez Sarsfield's 16-year-old Gianluca Prestianni.

Barca had been hopeful of being reunited with Messi following his World Cup win with Argentina, especially with his PSG contract expiring this summer and the 35-year-old refusing to discuss terms on an extension before flying out to Qatar.

But reports that Messi feels Paris are his best chance of another Champions League title with Barcelona in financial trouble have emerged at the same time as leaked WhatsApp messages from Barca top brass describing him as a "sewer rat" and "hormonal dwarf".

READ: Messi sends devastating blow to Barcelona

Barca are now casting their net further for the next player who they hope could one day light up Camp Nou in a similar fashion, and their scouting network has fallen upon Prestianni, a 16-year-old winger who already has six senior appearances to his name with Velez.

What position does Prestianni play in?

Prestianni has primarily lined up as a left-winger in his career to date, but he is capable of playing on the opposite flank and he could gravitate to a more central position in time with more experience under his belt.

How good is Prestianni?

While Messi is a left-footer who prefers lining up on the right, it is the opposite for Prestianni, a right-footer on the left. The youngster has a low centre of gravity, incredibly quick feet and vision well beyond his years, though, making him eerily reminiscent of his countryman.

Whilst there have been all too many "next Messis", Prestianni career so far has been exciting. At 16 years, three months and 22 days of age, he became Velez' youngest ever player with his debut in the Copa Libertadores in May.

He also has two goals and an assist from six Argentina under-17 outings to his name.

What clubs are interested in Prestianni?

If Barcelona do indeed win the race for Prestianni's signature, they will have reportedly beaten Real Madrid, Chelsea and AC Milan to it.

READ: Revealed: Real Madrid's Endrick Plan B

When does Prestianni's contract expire?

Prestianni's current Velez deal runs until 31 December 2024.

How old is Prestianni?

Born on 31 January 2006, Prestianni is still 16 years old at the time of writing.

He would only be able to join Barca officially in 2025, his 18th birthday conveniently falling on the final day of that winter's transfer window.

What is Prestianni's Instagram?

Prestianni's Instagram can be found under the handle gianlucaa_11. He has 36.7K followers as of January 2023.