Ansu Fati's father: "I know he would like to play with Portugal"
The Barclona starlet is set to play for Spain at the U-17 World Cup after he was granted a Spanish passport but his father has said that his dream was to play for Portugal.
Barcelona’s 16-year-old starlet Ansu Fati has been one of the unexpected sensations in LaLiga at this early point of the season, having netted two goals and one assist in in just three league appearances.
After becoming Barcelona’s youngest ever debutant in the Champions League against Borrussia Dortmund on Tuesday, Fati was granted his Spanish passport on Friday following a fast-track procedure, putting him in line for selection for the upcoming U-17 World Cup (although Ernesto Valverde is understandably not too happy about letting him go).
Born in the former Portuguese colony of Guinea Bissau, the teenage striker was also eligible to play for Portugal, but has lived in Spain since the age of six and previously stated he was “in no doubt whatsoever" about pledging his allegiance to La Roja.
However in an interview with Portugal’s A Bola newspaper, his father, Bori Fati, said that it was both he and his son’s dream to see him in the red of Portugal rather than Spain.
“My dream was to see my son playing with Portugal and I think that was his dream too, but now it is difficult,” said Bori Fati.
“Some time ago, I spoke with a director from the Portuguese federation. The conversation was positive and we agreed to speak the next day. But that person has not called me again. Then, after these matches he has played [for Barcelona], the pressure from Spain has been very strong and I have been contacted directly by the president of the Spanish Federation (Luis Rubiales).”
“Ansu feels Portuguese and I do too” – Bori Fati
While Ansu Fati is set to play in Spain’s underage ranks, he would be still eligible to eventually switch to play senior football for Portugal, up until the point that he played a competitive senior match for La Roja. And if his father’s comments are anything to go by, perhaps a desired switch could be on the cards in the future.
"He feels Portuguese and I do too. It would be easy for him to play with Portugal, it would have been enough for Umaro Embaló, a Benfica player, to convince him. He is a great friend, he speaks with Ansu every day,” said Bori Fati.
“Everything is in the hands of Ansu. I know he would like to play with Portugal. When he is home, he always has a Portugal shirt on, which Umaro gave him.”
Ansu Fati almost switched from Barça to Sporting
Bori Fati also revealed in the interview that his son was close to signing for Sporting Lisbon before renewing his contract with Barcelona in July. And Barca fans will now undoubtedly be thanking their lucky stars that that the club were not foolish enough to let him go.
“A close friend at Sporting, Rui Casteleiro, called me to sign Ansu for the club. During the summer, I travelled to Sporting to talk about that possibility,” he recalled.
“I met with a manager, but I was very surprised when he told me that they planned to enrol him in the youth team… I thought it was a joke, since Barcelona guaranteed me that Ansu would play at Barça B.”
“It made no sense to travel from Barcelona to Lisbon to listen to that offer. I went back to Spain and didn't talk to Sporting again. Ansu renewed with Barcelona. And that’s how it ended.”
Fati’s current deal with Barcelona expires next summer. But, as reported by AS a few days ago, the youngster, who has seen his market value skyrocket to 25 million euros (transfemarkt.com valuation), is in line for a tasty extension to his contract in a bid to keep him at the Camp Nou.
The Catalan club plan to offer him a five-year deal which could see him earn a million euros annually if he is registered with the first team. And that figure would increase at a rate of 250,000 euros per year in the first three years.