Barcelona celebrate Ansu Fati’s long road to recovery with a hopeful eye on next season

Ansu Fati had waited three months to touch his studs down on the Camp Nou pitch again and the reception he got did not disappoint. The entire crowd got to their feet on Sunday night to welcome back a player who has brought them so much joy and a player who they’ve unfortunately seen far too little of.

Few players have had such bad luck with injuries as Ansu, who has missed 84 matches in the three seasons since he burst on to the scene as a precociously talented forward and set LaLiga Santander alight.  

But, a ray of hope came with his return from the bench in Sunday’s 2-1 win over RCD Mallorca when, greeted by a deafening roar, he ran on to the pitch to replace Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the 75th minute.

“He has made a huge effort to be part of this final stretch of the season, he is a player who can make the difference, and we’ll make sure we look after him,” said Barça coach Xavi.

The coach also gave an insight into where he sees Ansu doing most damage in a side bursting with attacking talent. He added: “I see him more as a centre-forward than a winger. He has a real capacity for scoring goals, he can score effortlessly so he needs to get in the area. He isn’t up to speed just yet as he has been out for so long, but I’m happy he’s back.”

The good news is that Ansu is still only 19 and has four games left of the 2021/22 LaLiga Santander season to ease back into competitive football and three months to prepare for the next campaign.

Bojan Krkić’s excitement about FC Barcelona’s young core

Former FC Barcelona player Bojan Krkić, who was the club’s youngest goalscorer for 12 years until Ansu surpassed him, is excited to see how Ansu and fellow teenagers Pedri and Gavi can drive the team forward next season and really challenge newly crowned champions Real Madrid for the LaLiga Santander title.

As Bojan told LaLiga: “They are players who are already performing at a very high level. Pedri is already an established player, Gavi is an established player and so is Ansu.We shouldn’t demand that they be the foundations of this new FC Barcelona project. They have a lot more room to grow, they just need to take each day as it comes and keep working as they are and I hope the injuries respect them.”

That final point is particularly pertinent to Ansu, whose surge to stardom has been cruelly punctured by a series of setbacks.

Ansu became FC Barcelona’s youngest ever goalscorer in only his second game for the club, netting against CA Osasuna in August 2019 aged 16 and then scoring in the second minute of his first start at the Camp Nou in a 5-2 drubbing of Valencia CF. He continued to send records tumbling, becoming the youngest goalscorer in the Champions League in December 2019 and then Spain’s youngest ever scorer a year later.

However, the remarkable start to his career was derailed by a horrific knee injury in November 2020. The injury was so severe that the youngster required no less than four operations and was forced to spend 323 days away from the pitch.

He had a dream return to the pitch last September, wearing the No.10 shirt he had inherited from Lionel Messi and scoring in a 3-0 win over Levante UD before being carried aloft by his teammates.

The knee injury did not seem to have affected his sharpness as he scored three times in five appearances, although the time away did make him more prone to injury as he struggled to maintain his fitness.

A hamstring injury in November forced him out for another two months and, although he returned with a bang, scoring against Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup in January, he sustained a new muscle injury a week later in the Copa del Rey defeat to Athletic Club on January 20th, which was his last game before this cameo appearance against RCD Mallorca.

Fans just hope that his injury pain becomes a thing of the past so that FC Barcelona and everyone involved with LaLiga Santander can enjoy such a talented and effective player at the peak of his powers.

MG Team

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