Hey Dave: Is Ansu Fati the heir to Lionel Messi?

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Barcelona’s Ansu Fati celebrates scoring his side’s first goal during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. Photo by Joan Monfort/AP Photo.

Seeing young soccer players go through a club’s academy and end up playing for that same team always makes fans happy, as they can to see the young players’ careers flourish right before their eyes. Some iconic homegrown players include Marcus Rashford at Manchester United, Harry Kane at Tottenham and Lionel Messi over at Barcelona, to name a few. 

Speaking of Barcelona, many are still unsure about Messi’s future, as the question of him leaving at the end of the 2020/21 season is still in the air. Because of this, there have been many speculations as to how the Catalonian club are going to fill such big shoes when the Argentine legend leaves. Some think the club should buy a youngster that has already proven themselves to be a lethal goalscorer, like Erling Håland for example (only in one’s dreams). On the other hand, fans believe bringing a player from La Masia, Barcelona’s youth academy, who holds great potential can easily fill in Messi’s spot. The latter are correct; and as a matter of fact Barcelona already has a homegrown player who can fill in for Messi: 17-year-old Ansu Fati. 

I wanted to wait a couple of weeks into the 2020/21 season to write this column, but I didn’t want to call my shot too early. After his most recent personal achievement, and his incredible performance so far, I think I have seen enough of the player to answer one question: Is he the heir to Messi? Yes, simple as that. I strongly believe the 17-year-old holds great potential for the club and can take Messi’s throne when the time comes. With the Blaugrana in a sort of limbo stage of its history due to conflicts with the board, Ansu Fati is the light to Barcelona’s future.  

Despite losing 3-1 in Saturday’s El Clásico against rivals Real Madrid, the youngster managed to get a remarkable achievement: becoming the highest-scoring player under the age of 18 in La Liga history since the 1930s with 11 career total goals. Not only did Fati obtain this personal achievement, he’s also obtained other accolades to add to his early career, such as becoming the youngest starter and youngest goalscorer at the Camp Nou last year, being the club’s youngest Champions League goalscorer and being the youngest player ever in the European competition to score two goals. That’s only a few of the many achievements he’s gotten, folks. 

Even if you were to look up highlights of his skills and goals on YouTube, you’ll be quick to see he’s as electric of a player as Messi was when he started playing for the senior team in the early 2000s. I won’t say he’ll become a better player than Messi, but he has enough potential to be almost right up there with him. Having scored five games of the six he’s played so far this season, along with the eight goals he scored in 33 games last season, he’ll definitely be on the target list for many of Europe’s giant clubs in the future. 

Barcelona fans just have to hope the club doesn’t sell the prodigy later down the line just like they have with other young prospects from La Masia, but that’s a talk for another day. 

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