In Focus: Fati ready to shine at Barca after injury nightmare
It has been a summer of chaos at Barcelona, navigating financial issues while also trying to bolster Xavi’s squad.
But Sunday’s 4-1 victory at Real Sociedad was a reminder that even before the influx of recent arrivals, there was plenty of quality knocking around at the Camp Nou.
After two miserable seasons disrupted by injuries, Ansu Fati produced a wonderful display off the bench to help the Blaugrana secure their first three points of the season.
Barcelona face Manchester City in a charity match tonight before Sunday’s game against Real Valladolid. We look at whether a fit-again Fati can be the catalyst for Xavi’s Barca.
Xavi sent Fati on for Ferran Torres with 64 minutes on the clock at La Real as Barca looked for a way to retake the lead.
Just two minutes later, an audacious backheel from the 19-year-old played in Ousmane Dembele, who calmly slotted the ball into the far corner.
Less than 120 seconds after that, Fati was on hand again, teeing up Robert Lewandowski to double their lead.
And for good measure, Fati added a fourth himself in the 79th minute as he found the bottom corner from inside the box.
It was a stark reminder of the Spain international’s remarkable talents.
Fati said: "After being out for so long, you feel a bit cautious when you go back out on the pitch. That’s normal, but it disappears after the first few minutes.
"All this time I’ve been out, the fans have been like another family for me. The idea of giving back some of that warmth was an added motivation to get fit again."
Rewind two years and Fati was busy upstaging Lionel Messi with two strikes and an assist as Barca smashed Villarreal 4-0 on the opening day of the 2020-21 campaign.
Yet after six more goal contributions in the following nine games, disaster struck as Fati ruptured the internal meniscus of his left knee against Real Betis in November 2021.
He returned 10 months later, but had only made four starts in all competitions before a hamstring tear meant more time on the sidelines.
After breaking out with eight goals and one assist in 33 games in the 2019-20 campaign, Fati played just 24 times in the following two seasons.
Last April, Barca president Joan Laporta was asked whether the club would target a superstar signing this summer.
In response, he said: "We already have a superstar and his name is Fati — we’re waiting for him."
That is the mark of how highly he is regarded at the Camp Nou, not just by Xavi but the hierarchy too.
Looking at his stats over the past three seasons, it is clear to see why he is considered a bona fide superstar.
He’s averaging a goal every 91 minutes, creating 1.55 chances per game, as well as 0.55 big chances.
Fati loves to take full-backs on with 4.48 attempted every match, though he is completing just under two of them on average.
The Guinea-Bissau-born forward is a player that defenders all across LaLiga will be scared of coming up against.
Ready to shine
Fati will have watched the likes of Ferran Torres and Raphinha join the club and been left itching to remind people of what he can do.
The emphatic fashion in which he spun the game on its head in less than 30 minutes against La Real suggests he is ready to lead this new-look Barca side.
Fati said: "My main ambition is to win titles with Barcelona, achieving that for the club and the fans is my main objective.
"If this means that I will also achieve personal records, then incredible. I will work hard and stay dedicated. Hopefully the trophies and records will come after that."
LaLiga has been put on notice — Barca’s No10 is back with a vengeance.