Euphoria was unleashed in a heartbeat. A thunderous uproar that had not been experienced in the Camp Nou for a long time, not even with the irruption of Messi. But against Levante, it was enough for Ansu Fati (Guinea Bissau; 18 years old) to go out to warm up for a tremendous ovation to be uncorked, also accompanied by the applause from the bench and even from his teammate Araujo, who was waiting for him in the band to exercise together. Ansu smiled and returned the palms, but did not deviate from his assignment. “Today I will put in”, he anticipated his family and friends during Sunday breakfast, as he had asked his circle of friends to accompany him during the day to be calm. Nobody was surprised by the sentence because he always had a big comeback between his eyes. “I’ll be back with a goal,” he said the day after he was injured. It took 10 months and four operations on his left knee, but a few hours after lunch, in the second ball he touched in the match, he invented a shot from outside the area that almost did not burn the net. Goal, word fulfilled and the Camp Nou hanging from Ansu. “It has a special energy. That aura with the public, that smile… And, really, what he did against Levante is incredible. He comes out and looks like he played yesterday. What self-confidence and personality! The player needed him and Barcelona needed him ”, they point out from the offices of the Sports City.
Messi made his debut against Osasuna in the League and scored his first goal against Albacete in 2005, at which point Ronaldinho offered him his back so they could ride in the celebration. Leo was the spoiled child, the gifted one who was about to join a team full of stars like Deco, Eto’o, Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol… “Messi was given a few years and the same should happen with Ansu. You cannot demand that much of him. Furthermore, they are shared hopes because they also believe in Pedri, Araujo… ”, argue from the Barça sports area. And it is not the same to play with heavyweights who compete for the Champions League than with homegrown players to explode [como Gavi, Nico González y Balde], no matter how good they look. So Ansu did not get on anyone’s back, but was hoisted together in an image as iconic as it was expressive, an 18-year-old leader who wears the 10 on his back, Messi’s glorified number. “Thanks to the captains and the club for giving me this opportunity,” the winger resolved; “I don’t see it as pressure but rather, it is a source of pride for me.” From the offices of the Sports City they value him, aware of his personality, since he discarded Messi’s brother (Rodrigo) as a representative, knowing what it could mean.
- The Barça does not squeeze the resources
But that’s the way to face the challenges for Fati. “He does not think that he plays against such a team or if it is the Champions League or another tournament. It is simply said: ‘Today I play’, they explain from their environment. Nor does it affect him that a club that is shivering economically and with evaporated stars hangs on his hump, that the fans grant him an absolute leading role. Although his profile gives more for a unifying leader, always surrounded by his own. Which was evidenced by celebrating the goal in the stands with his nephew, also with his parents, sisters, cousin, the personal fitness trainer, friends and even his lawyers. “They and the fans have been my true support during this time”, thanked the footballer after the stake and the Barça triumph, restorative for Koeman and for a euphoric fan for the return of another 10.
The Camp Nou smiles and Koeman snorts with relief, who finally has a footballer who, he says, will be able to make the team play as he wants. “Without Fati or Dembélé we lack one against one and overflow, also depth,” lamented Koeman. And although Ansu will gradually enter the team because he must recondition his body for the competition after so long inactive, the attack of Barça, multiplied the options with Memphis, Coutinho, Braithwaite and Luuk de Jong, also Demir. Confidence dose for Barcelona, now pending to renew Ansu. “It is going well. He wants to stay. There will be no problems ”, they point out from the club. Fati takes it easy, like almost everything. So instead of having a party or going out, the winger gathered all his friends and inner circle again for dinner. He played South African style chicken with rice.