• Barcelona academy youngster Ilias Akhomach made his Barcelona B team debut
  • La Masia director Patrick Kluivert likened Akhomach to Lionel Messi
  • Barca B team coach Garcia Pimienta assures the teenager has a spot in the team this season

La Masia product Ilias Akhomach, whom Barcelona academy director Patrick Kluivert regarded as "the new Lionel Messi," has got his coach and fans excited about his future after making his Barcelona B team debut.

Barcelona B coach Garcia Pimienta handed Akhomach his first game for the Catalan club’s second string in the second half of the final friendly match against Cornella on Oct. 10 at the Johan Cruyff Stadium. It was a pre-season game, but Akhomach still impressed in his brief pitch appearance and became the star of the match.

After the game, Pimienta lauded Akhomach’s performance and acknowledged the 16-year-old’s potential. However, the B coach also pointed out that he doesn't want to force Akhomach’s progress due to his young age.

"It was the last game of pre-season and we had players out and he's already shown that he's pushing with the youth teams," Pimienta told Sport of Akhomach. "He's a cheeky, brave player with a lot of quality, but he's only 16. We have very young players and we can't load them with too much responsibility."

Following a successful debut, Akhomach has secured his future in the club as Pimienta revealed that he is likely to have a spot in the team in the regular season.

"What's clear is that the academy is bringing through a lot of players and [Akhomach] he's one that we will have in mind this season, for sure," he added.

Barcelona academy director Kluivert is among those who are convinced that Akhomach is on his way to becoming the next Camp Nou hero. In fact, Kluivert even likened the teenager to Messi.

"He is the Messi who is coming," the La Masia director said of Akhomach in an interview in 2019. "What's more, he is already somewhat similar. He is left-handed and his agent is Horacio Gaggioli, the representative who brought Messi to Barcelona."

Aside from Pimienta and Kluivert, fans are also delighted over Akhomach’s arrival. As early as now, some Barca fanatics are already picturing the La Masia sensation teaming up with Barcelona first-team rising star Ansu Fati.

"So much Ilias hype and I’m all here for it — Ansu LW and potentially Ilias RW for the next decade," a fan wrote.

"Ilias Akhomach from La Masia is very promising. Plays in RW. So in the future we will have Fati in LW and Ilias in RW. Excited,” another fan wrote.

Lionel Messi said he will stay at Barcelona but only because the club's president Josep Maria Bartomeu broke his word to let him leave
Lionel Messi said he will stay at Barcelona but only because the club's president Josep Maria Bartomeu broke his word to let him leave AFP / GABRIEL BOUYS