It was the Blaugrana’s first game open to the public in months and the La Liga giants won it 4-0 with a hat-trick of the 24-year-old striker who had played for Piacenza, Cremonese, Sampdoria, Inter Pescara and Pisa.
Manaj, 24, joined Granada in 2017 from Pescara, before moving to Albacete and Barcelona B.
Ronald Koeman fielded a youthful lineup yesterday with many of his first-teamers not yet back in full training, although the likes of Sergino Dest, Gerard Pique and Sergi Roberto started the game.
Barcelona dominated possession and Gimnastic were reduced to ten men at the end of the first half when Alex Quintanilla Urionabarrenetxea saw a red card. Manaj scored all his three goals in the last 30 minutes.
The former Inter man earned headlines in the Spanish media, such as ‘O’Rey Manaj’ from Mundo Deportivo’s front page.
E dopo questa possiamo chiudere 🤣🤣
(sì, è QUEL Manaj) pic.twitter.com/pzHJex5CW5
— Simone Bargellini (@SimBarg) July 22, 2021
Many Serie A fans found it surprising as the 24-year-old struggled during his time in Italy, scoring just two goals in 33 appearances between Serie A and Serie B.
The Albania international scored his only two Serie A goals in 2016 with Pescara.
He had made his Serie A debut with Inter in August 2015 under Roberto Mancini.