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Guinea-Bissau Resonates in Ansu Fati: Just Who Is Barca’s Latest African Kid?

A look at 16-year old Anssumane Fati, Barcelona’s latest sensation who hails from Guinea-Bissau.

When the commentator called him the crowned jewel of La Masia as Anssumane Fati donned his jersey he probably had an idea of what he was all about.

Muttering a prayer under his breath on the byline and tapping a palm after being effected on to replace fellow Le Masia product Carles Perez, the 16-year-old did not disappoint.

He knew he would be re-writing the La Liga champions debutants’ history book. For Barca to throw a teenager in the mix at 16 years and 298 days, he obviously must possess some inimitable brilliance. The last time that occurred was in 1941.

And while he had just fifteen minutes to show what he is made of, he certainly made the most of it. Majority at his age would probably be bubbling under pressure when shoved onto the big stage. For Fati, it was an occasion to seize with both hands.

Bori, the lad’s former footballer father, shed tears of joy with his wife, touched by the news of their son’s call-up to Barca’s first team. That emotional moment brought back fresh memories of six years ago when he signed for the Catalans from Seville.

Climbing the grades in the former European champions A-team must be for two things: either the gaffer is warding off overtures from their very best youngster being poached by other clubs or owing to an injury to an integral first-teamer. Ansu’s case was the latter and it paved the way for his ascension, precipitated by injuries to Messi and Luis Suarez.

The expectation was that Barcelona’s boss Ernesto Valverde would summon in an experienced head to lead the line from the left-wing. This assumption was given weight by the fact that the Camp Nou outfit lost its league opener, hence the pressure to deliver the points in the second outing up against an unpredictable Real Betis.

However, Valverde stunned most to beckon on the Guinea-Bissau-born sensation to fill the void. His hunch about betting on the African turned a gamble worth the risk. The 16-year-old showed flashes of what’s to come by putting World Cup finalist 31-year-old Ivan Rakitic in his place at the training ground. Fati feigned a deaf shoulder movement which destabilised the Croatian who went falling on his bum before finding space to poke in a pass for a teammate to slide into the net.

Xavi shared the video.

A night before his debut, Ernesto took permission from the kid’s parents to feature him against Betis and Fori, his dad, was all delighted watching his son in action.

“This is the happiest day of my life. When he told us he was being called up by Valverde I started to cry and my wife too. When he came on, we were on cloud nine,” Fati Snr aid.

He continued: “At six or seven, he came to Spain. I had come here before and I didn’t know he played football. They told me I was not aware of how good my son was and that he was dribbling by everybody. We were at Sevilla and Real Madrid offered me better conditions than Barcelona for my son. But they came to my house to convince us. Albert Puig came and told me that my son had to sign with Barcelona.”

“Sevilla got mad and Monchi asked how much they offered, that he wanted him to stay at Sevilla. At nine years old, he went to Sevilla and they left him without playing for a year.”

Erstwhile world’s best player Messi snapped with Ansu in the aftermath of the game congratulating him in an Instagram post attracting over five million followers at the time.


The hype hovering around Fati is unprecedented as Guinea-Bissau, his birth land, went gaga over his debut. Back pages in Bissau called him one of “our own” with the football federation there already hoping he dumps Spain for the African Wild Dogs. If however, he chooses, like most before him, football glamour and the recognition that comes with it, then the West Africans could kiss goodbye to chances of Ansu ever donning their colours despite hailing from there.

Spain juggernauts Barcelona do not have that much of a track record of trusting African youth. Samuel Eto’o, Yaya Toure, Keita Diao Balde, Adama Traore come to mind with Seydou Keita the sole forward from the continent to have lasted at the Camp Nou beyond four seasons.  Should the budding raw talent’s case become different, then Ousmane Dembele could begin seeing his future elsewhere.

Meanwhile, Barca have installed a 100 million euro in his release clause to scare off admirers. And if other teams must get him, it could only possibly be on loan basis, provided he continues to perform and is considered one for the future.

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