Ansu Fati, Barcelona’s 18-year-old striker, is to inherit the number 10 shirt worn for years by Argentina legend Lionel Messi, the club said on Wednesday. Before Messi, the famous jersey was also worn by Ronaldinho, Rivaldo or Romario, all Brazilians.
Since his debut in 2019, Fati has already set records in La Liga and Champions League. Against Valencia, he was the youngest player to start for Barça at the Camp Nou, aged 16 years and 318 days. Just six days after his debut for the first team he became the youngest ever player to score in the league for FC Barcelona.
Fati is also the youngest player to feature for Barça in the Champions League. He debuted in the game against Borussia Dortmund at 16 years and 321 days old, and as a 59th minute substitute for Messi.
On 10 December 2019, in the final game of a Champions League group stage match, Fati came on in the 85th minute against Internazionale. Just a minute later, he scored the winning goal. Besides giving Barça the victory, it made him the competition’s youngest ever goalscorer, at 17 years and 40 days old.
‘Our new number 10, made in La Masia,’ a social media post by Barça announced, referring to the club’s prestigious youth academy which Fati joined when he was just 10-years-old.
There had been a great deal of speculation over who would take over the number 10 shirt after Messi’s departure to Paris Saint-Germain in August, after the Catalan club, in debt to the tune of 1.3 billion euros, could no longer afford his salary.
Fati, born in Guinea-Bissau, came to Spain when he was just seven, starting off at Seville before moving to Barcelona’s youth academy in 2012. He graduated to the first team in August 2019 when he was just 16, and made his international debut for Spain in summer 2020. He has been out of action since November, recovering from knee surgery.
In his 10 appearances before injury, Fati scored five goals and provided two assists last season.
Messi, widely considered the most gifted player in the history of the game, won 35 trophies at the club which he joined as a 13-year-old — including four Champions Leagues and 10 league titles while his 672 goals are a record for any of the top five European leagues. ALSO READ: Messi already ‘dreaming’ of winning his 5th Champions League at new club PSG