The curious case of Ansu Fati

When Lionel Messi left Barcelona two seasons ago, he left a gaping hole in the club, a hole that Barca tried to fill in the form of a talented wonderkid. At the tender age of 18, Ansu Fati took on the responsibility of the famed number 10 shirt. Many senior players would shy away from picking up the mantle from a player as iconic as Messi, but Fati welcomed the spotlight. Unfortunately for Ansu, since then he has struggled to make any sort of lasting impact. A mixture of injuries and inconsistency have kept him out of the starting eleven, and this summer Barca find themselves at a crossroads.

In the last two seasons, Fati has scored 10 league goals, not quite the levels that Messi was reaching, but this is a raw talent that may be worth nurturing. Fati has struggled for consistent performances since early January, but this weekend may have been a breakthrough. Fati notched twice as Barcelona dispatched Mallorca 3-0 on Sunday. Aside from the goals, it was Fati’s best performance since the turn of the year.

Fati suffered a meniscus tear in the 2020/21 season and missed 47 games because of it. After that, he had back-to-back hamstring injuries last season, as well as a knee problem. Because of his numerous injuries, he missed 35 games last season. For a 20-year-old, Ansu has a torrid injury record. Some players never fully recover from what he has suffered. He has been fit for the majority of this season, but Xavi has not trusted him to start games. He has 23 league appearances from the bench, and has not managed to earn himself a starting spot.

Any football fan would have sympathy for the injuries that Ansu has experienced, and respect him for taking on the number 10 shirt, but he has to change his own fortunes. He is contracted with Barcelona for the next four years. Barcelona have shown great faith in him, and now he must repay it.

Japtej Ghura | GSFN

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