Ansu Fati, a 20-year-old forward from Barcelona, is joining Brighton on a season-long loan. The deal does not include an option to buy, and Brighton will cover 80% of Fati’s salary. Tottenham and Chelsea were also interested in signing Fati on loan, but he chose to join Brighton.
The Italian gaffer — Roberto de Zerbi’s involvement made the move in favor of Brighton & Hove, as Fati was more convinced by Seagull’s style of play under the management of De Zerbi. The Seagulls have been on the quest for a new attacking option since their Paraguayan number ten winger Julian Enciso has been ruled out with a long-term injury. Thus, Ansu Fati is seen as an excellent short-term solution at the club.
The La Masia graduate has been struggling to make a place in Xavi’s eleven in recent times.
A Brief Background
The Guinea Bissau-born has been with Barcelonasince since the age of 10, and in 2019 Fati made his impressive debut appearance for FC Barcelona’s first team at the age of 16 years and broke numerous records in his very 1st season.
Regarded as among the brightest prospects for FC Barcelona and the Spanish National team, the player was even seen as a potential successor of Lionel Messi at Camp Nou.
Ansu Fati became the youngest goalscorer for the club and the Spanish national team. In the Champions League, he netted a late winner up against Inter at San Siro to be the youngest-ever scorer in the history of the competition— a record still to his name.
Since his debut for the La Roja— the youngster was widely viewed as a generational talent in Spanish football. He has scored twice in nine international caps, Fati was also named in Spain’s contingent for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
At the club level, Fati has scored 29 goals in a total of 112 appearances for the Blaugrana. In 2021, he penned a new contract until 2027 which included a ₤1bn buyout clause.
Last season, the forward bagged ten goals and four assists in a total of 51 appearances in his name, under Xavi.
What went wrong for Ansu Fati?
A series of significant injuries brought a promising career to an abrupt halt within a short span due to which he got sidelined for a longer period. Amidst all, Ansu Fati was offered the iconic number ten shirt by the club after the shocking exit of their Talisman — Lionel Messi to PSG as the youngster was viewed as a future replacement of the Argentine at Camp Nou. In September 2022, the new ten number marks his comeback after missing out on nearly nine months of football and signing a contract extension, however soon after he suffered another injury.
Meanwhile, Xavi returned to FC Barcelona from Qatari side Al Saad and took charge of the club as their new manager replacing Ronald Koeman, by then everything was going well for the 20-year-old at Blaugrana.
Despite not being a regular under Xavi, he was enjoying his best time since the injury. The club made new signings like Ferran Torres and Raphinha on the flanks and Robert Lewandowski in the center, which pushed Fati to the bench.
The 16-year-old Lamine Yamal emerged as the new poster boy for FC Barcelona, and he is considered a new rival for Ansu Fati at the club. It is believed that his breakthrough into the main team also played a part in Fati’s exit.
Xavi has made it clear that he cannot guarantee forward minutes under the current circumstances, with options like Robert Lewandowski, Ferran Torres, Rahinha, and Lamine Yamal in the attack, leading to intense competition for places upfront. Consequently, no prominent role as a regular is available for Fati.
Why Brighton? A chance to revive…
In the past few seasons, Brighton’s bright projects have attracted various talents to the Amex Stadium, the club remained a preferred destination for young talents to nourish their themselves under the guidance of De Zerbi and the club’s positive environment.
Especially this season, the seagulls are ready to compete in European competition for the first time ever in the history of the club. And now, Ansu Fati’s loan move is another example of their pulling power, this deal is viewed as best in the interest of all the parties involved.
The Seagulls are known to put faith in their youngsters, with players such as Alexis Mac Allister, Moises Caicedo, Marc Cucurella, Yves Bissouma, and Leandro Trossard all moving to big clubs after making their names at the AMEX stadium.
The 20-year-old Fati is a versatile forward who can play center, second striker, and wide on the wings. The forward is keen to get some regular minutes and rediscover his form as he is viewing this opportunity as a chance to revive his career away from the limelight of FC Barcelona.
However, it won’t be a cakewalk for him as he has to replace the injured Julio Enciso and also needs to compete with Japanese star Kaoru Mitoma for minutes unless he plays on the right with someone else taking the middle zone.
Roberto De Zerbi played a key role in the decision-making of Spanish International. He believed Fati could thrive in the club’s environment and could get the best out of the player under his supervision.
So, it will be interesting the see how Fati will adjust to the premier league in this new role at a new club in a new atmosphere and how he can regain his confidence. But the only alarming factor is that in the past the Barca loanees have failed to make an impact after returning from their loan spell. The Blaugrana will surely be hoping that this will not be the case with Ansu Fati.