Ansu Fati has thanked the Barcelona coaching staff and supporters after becoming the club’s second-youngest debutant on Sunday.
With the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele out injured, Ernesto Valverde took the opportunity to blood in some youngsters against Real Betis.
Who is Fati? Five things to know…
- Fati made his debut against Real Betis on Sunday, becoming Barca’s second-youngest debutant.
- The 16-year-old was afforded a 12-minute cameo which yielded one take-on, one successful tackle and one shot.
- He has been in the club’s academy since joining from Sevilla in 2012 at the age of 10.
- He has turned out for the U13s, U14s, U15s and U16s, winning the league with each age group.
- In July, Fati signed a new contract until 2022 with an option for a further two years and is expected to break into the Barca first team.
The Blaugrana started with La Masia graduate Carles Perez before introducing 16-year-old Fati with 12 minutes to spare, as the La Liga champions clinically dispatched Los Verdiblancos 5-2.
By entering the fray, the teenage Guinea- Bissauan became the club’s second-youngest debutant after Vicente Martinez in the 1941/42 season.
Having eclipsed Messi – who was 17 years and three months old when he took to the field for the first time – Fati was quick to express his ‘gratitude’ towards the club.
He said: “It’s true that I was really nervous but I can only offer words of gratitude to everyone. To the club, the coach, and the supporters who gave me such a warm reception.
“I was looking at my parents, my family, who have accompanied me up to this point. I stayed out on the pitch because I couldn’t believe it and now is the time to enjoy this moment. I’m just so grateful.”
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Where will Fati play this season?
Despite being earmarked as the latest jewel to emerge from the club’s esteemed assembly line, Fati’s rapid ascent to the first team reckoning has no doubt been facilitated by the current injury crisis affecting Valverde.
Fati has, however, enjoyed a meteoric rise within the club’s ranks, being promoted to Barcelona B this pre-season, having previously worked under Victor Valdes in the Juvenil A team.
Barca B coach Francisco Garcia sees the fledgling forward as an integral part of his plans this season as he sets his sights on promotion to the second division.
Despite Valdes wanting to keep him with the U18s, Fati is likely to be utilised with Barca B, unless of course, Valverde wants to keep him with the senior squad.