REAL MADRID

Ansu Fati almost joined Real Madrid when he was aged 9 years old

The Barça promise, the second youngest to debut with the Blaugranas in LaLiga, could have ended up joining Real Madrid but the club wasn't sure.

Ansu Fati posa en el torneo de fútbol sala jugado en Cañada Rosal, un pueblo de Sevilla.

Anssumane Fati, or Ansu Fati as he is more commonly known, made his first team debut for Barça with a bang at Camp Nou last night. A tender 16 years of age, Ansu entered the field to a massive cheer from the stands then spent the next 17 minutes delighting the home supporters. He brimmed with self-confidence, looked bold and daring and showed the quality that he clearly possesses. The Barça teenager was born in Bissau-Guinea in 2002 and has been developing his skills at La Masía since he entered the academy as a 10-year-old. But before that, he had other experiences in the world of football. He played for Sevilla's Under-11s (Monchi was one of the first to spot his potential)… and he also played several friendly games wearing the Real Madrid shirt. The Fati family, headed by father Bori, settled in Herrera - a small town a few kilometres east of Sevilla. His older brother Brahima, who is now 21, also plays for Barcelona and is currently out on loan at Calahorra. His younger brother Miguel has followed his elder siblings and is now playing with Barça's Under-8s - enjoying his football with none other than Leo Messi's son. That helps us understand the reason why Messi posted a picture of himself hugging Ansu after last night's game - he knows the family well. But I digress, let's return back to Ansu's story. Sevilla suspended him for a year after discovering that his father had reached an agreement for his son to join Barcelona's youth academy. Entering La Masía was a big step and both father and son accepted the conditions proposed by Barça. He had also been recommended to Real Madrid but the club never made a conscious attempt to incorporate him into La Fábrica.

Ansu Fati on his Barcelona debut

Ansu Fati: the early years in Seville

Nevertheless both the father and his sons have a fondness for Real Madrid, thanks largely to the good relationship they have with members of the Sextacampeones de Herrera Real Madrid's supporters group. The local peña have always enjoyed close contact with the Fati family and they were the ones who encouraged Ansu not to quit football when he was dealth a suspension by Sevilla. President of the supporters group Francisco Pineda Humanes (a great friend of Ansu's father), allowed the youngester to play a number of friendly games with their team. The youth categories in Herrera are not officially registered with the Federation and so they are able to organise their own matches and tournaments with other teams from the province so that the kids are able to enjoy regular football. The photograph accompanying this article in AS is from June 2012. Ansu Fati was just nine years old when that photo was taken, during a futsal tournament held in Cañada Rosal, a town in Seville province.

Ansu Fati on his Barcelona debut

Dream move to La Masía

After his brief ‘madridista’ spell, Ansu realised his dream of moving to Barcelona to enroll in La Masía. A year later he starred in the Liga Promises tournament at Los Cármenes in Granada, and lifted his first trophy with Barça and ended as the competition's top scorer. Have a guess who he played alongside throughout the event including the final against Valencia? Takefusa Kubo, the Japanese golden boy who joined Madrid this summer after turning 18. So who knows, maybe one day we will watch a Clásico with Kubo and Ansu face-to-face as the big name stars for Madrid and Barça. Stranger things have happened and as the great Jimmy Greaves says, it sure is a funny old game...