Ansu Fati: Barcelona's last ace up Koeman's sleeve
After playing a quarter of an hour against Levante, and a little more against Benfica, Barça's young striker could be the Dutch coach's saviour.
Ansu Fati first appeared by the sleight of hand of Ernesto Valverde, who pulled him from his sleeve in the summer of 2019 when injuries were hitting Barcelona hard. That was the launch to fame of the then under-17-year-old who began an incredible run of scoring record goals. And now the youngster may be a key player in saving, or at least extending, the career of his current manager in the Camp Nou dugout.
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Fati's Wanda magic needed for Koeman
With goals in Pamplona and Milan setting new LaLiga and Champions League milestones - ones that will remain in the annals of the Catalan club's history - Fati must now show his skills to amaze everyone and turn around the fortunes of Barça and under pressure Ronald Koeman. The Dutch coach believed in the young star’s abilities from day one and has been directly affected by the absence of the Bissau-born player following his injury in November last year.
Koeman has been one of the happiest at the club to see Fati’s reappearance almost eleven months later and, just like any decent magic trick, he may indeed be the unexpected finale reveal that astounds the sceptics. He’s unlikely to start the game of the weekend against Atlético Madrid but could be thrown in either in an attempt to flip a disappointing start, or to consolidate a positive position by keeping the opposition defence in check.
After playing a quarter of an hour against Levante and just over 20 minutes against Benfica, Ansu is working hard to get more minutes at the Wanda Metropolitano. And his boss has the careful balancing act to manage, knowing the importance in the short term of the day’s result, but that rushing him back too early could be dangerous when assessing the season’s objectives. With Barça’s financial muscle already having disappeared, there is already a sense that this young, and relatively inexperienced star is a fundamental ingredient to any potential blaugrana success.
Few in the audience expect to see a rabbit appear from Koeman’s dishevelled hat but if it is, then it could well be in the form of Ansu Fati. If not, and Atlético put them to the sword on Saturday, don’t expect the manger’s pieces to be put back together, with a variety of characters being considered to switch places with him through the less than hidden trapdoor.
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