In a thrilling night in Catalunya, Barcelona smashed Valencia 5-2 at Camp Nou.
Ansu Fati is 16 years old. When he was born, Gerard Piqué was 16 years old and had moved to Manchester United. That’s right, today he took the field with a player who is literally twice as old as he is. And the wildest thing is, he outperformed that veteran. Hell, he outperformed everyone except the guy who set him up for the opening goal (more on that later).
Oh, yeah, did we mention that Ansu Fati, 16-year-old making his first start in La Liga after scoring on his debut having come off the bench against Osasuna, opened the scoring? Because opened the scoring. Tearing in off that left-flank to meet a Frenkie de Jong cross and slam it home, low and smooth into the side of the net like some kind of right-footed Messi.
Five minutes later he had the ball down the left, danced through some Valencia players (he left Ezequiel Garay – another player twice his age – grasping at thin air with one bit of skill) and then squared the ball for Frenkie de Jong to slam home the club’s second goal. So for those keeping track that’s two goals scored and one goal created in his first 53 minutes of La Liga football.
Not bad, eh? And then the rest of his display was just great. Fearless and fearsome he drove hard at Valencia, never afraid to bet on himself or let fly at goal. Sure there were moments of obvious immaturity, times when he did silly things positionally, but for a player to possess so much confidence and tactical understanding at just 16?
Ansu already looks more comfortable in Blaugrana than Philippe Coutinho ever did. Ousmane Dembélé, too, looks more awkward than Ansu. This boy wonder looks born to play for Barça, and the standing ovation when he was taken off was both a beautiful sight for such a young La Masia product and also an encouraging sign that he is being saved to play against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League. That is a huge boost to his stature but also a worrying sign for Dortmund’s defence. Ansu’s on his way!