3rd February, 2020
Barcelona youngster Ansu Fati is still having trouble believing he’s a first-team player at the Camp Nou.
The teenager, who turned 17 in October, made his 19th appearance for Barcelona on Sunday and scored both goals as they beat Levante 2-1, courtesy of two Lionel Messi assists.
He told Movistar (h/t Goal’s Dejan Kalinic) after the game:
“I still have doubts about whether all this is real or not. I’ve been watching [Messi] play for many years, and now I play with him, it’s a dream.
“This is a dream. I have always dreamed of this moment. I have to thank my team-mates and the coach for giving me the opportunity.”
Manager Quique Setien praised the youngster’s “great potential,” and added: “You have to understand that you have to give him peace of mind and confidence to exploit what he has inside.”
Fati fired home in the 30th minute after Messi carved open Levante’s defence with a through ball.
Less than two minutes later he found the net again with a driving shot between goalkeeper Aitor Fernandez’s legs after Messi had picked him out in the box.
He was the matchwinner in #BarçaLevante…
1 – @FCBarcelona_es‘ Ansu Fati (17 years and 94 days) has become the youngest player to score a brace in @LaLigaEN in the 21st century, breaking the record previously held by Juanmi Jiménez against Real Zaragoza in September 2010 (17y 115d). Spectacular.
Fati burst on to the scene in August with a goal against Osasuna in his second senior appearance for the Blaugrana.
He followed that up with a goal and an assist against Valencia in their following game, and he also netted a dramatic late winner as Barca beat Inter Milan 2-1 in their final UEFA Champions League group match in December.
Football journalist Rik Sharma suggested he has not contributed much outside of those games, though, until the Levante brace:
Semedo on one today. Messi two brilliant assists, Ansu two goals, Griezmann two big misses
On Ansu, his last good performance (bar Inter cameo) was back in Sep, started three in a row for Setien with no impact so these goals very welcome for him
Football writer Zach Lowy is a keen admirer of Fati’s, however:
Ansu Fati putting two goals through the legs of one of the best goalkeepers, if not the best, in La Liga this season.
Obviously having Messi alongside him helps a ton, but not every 17-year-old has that kind of finishing ability in his portfolio. This kid is going to be special.
The first-team experience he has accrued in this campaign—he’s played 853 minutes so far—will be invaluable, though.
Hamstring injuries have limited Ousmane Dembele to just nine appearances for Barca this season, giving Fati the opportunity to play as much as he has.
The Frenchman is set to return to action in February, and he’ll likely take Fati’s place on the left when he does, but the youngster has shown he can be a useful option should the winger suffer any more fitness issues.