Brighton and Hove Albion loanee, Ansu Fati, returned to action in a 4-1 victory against Crystal Place, after more than two months sidelined with a calf injury, increasing his long list of injury records.
In a club many predicted to help him rediscover his form and reinvent his game, Fati has become a victim of another unfortunate spell, having already missed 14 games through injury for Brighton this season.
Thus, his fervent injuries become a worry to his parent club, FC Barcelona, current club, Brighton and other potential clubs interested in a possible transfer in the future. This leaves a question on whether the 21-year-old can return to his prolific status as a young prodigy and probably, back to Barcelona.
His Career’s Early Days
Ansu Fati made history for Barcelona in La Liga, UEFA Champions League and for the Spanish National Team by becoming the youngest player to both play and score a goal for his team, aged 16 and 17.
His arrival to the limelight rapidly shook the footballing world, as he was seen as a long-term answer to Barcelona’s demands for a player who could replace Lionel Messi, should the Argentinian’s spell run out at Barça. Of a truth, Fati lived up to expectations, quickly intertwining himself with every positive display put up by the club, scoring goals and placing himself in the faces of spectators constantly.
His magnificent performances earned him various accolades relating to young player awards; IFFHS (U 20) Team of the Year, 2020, UEFA La Liga Revelation Team of the Year, 2019/20, and a golden boy award nomination in 2019.
Injuries and Barça Exit
In November 2021, during a league match against Real Betis, Fati suffered a meniscal laceration (meniscus tear) after a dangerous tackle from Aissa Mendi, sidlining him for 305 days and exempting him from 64 club matches.
This injury sadly, kick-started what would become a spell of bad luck for the player as he went on to suffer two more hamstring injuries in the 2021/22 season with Barcelona. This created a fear of a relapse in the minds of concerned parties as incessant surgeries were not advisable for young players.
Fati’s fate quickly began to rest on his ability to stay consistent rather than on the intended level he’d been expected to replicate, causing his value, potentials, and fans level of confidence in him to drop drastically.
Left at the mercy of a loan option to help restore his panache, he was sent on loan to Brighton, hoping that he would return to the club better than he was before leaving. However, with his recent injury, it seems the narrative is yet to change for the youngster.
His Brighton Journey
Fati completed a loan move to Brighton and Hove Albion on transfer deadline day in the summer of 2023. Having played 3 games for Barcelona before finalizing a loan switch to the English side, his contributions to the season of the Catalan giants were minimal.
This creates a sense of omission from the plans of the club and leaves the situation of his future unclear with Barcelona. Being the player hugely expected to fill the boots of the departed icon, Lionel Messi at Barça, adorning the number 10 jersey number, Fati’s loan was perhaps unexpected.
Since moving to Brighton, he has had a direct involvement in five goals, scoring four and providing an assist in his last 14 games with Brighton. His slow adaptation to Roberto De Zerbi’s tactical system, coupled with his unfortunate calf injury may have placed his future in Barcelona in an unstable situation.
A Possible Return to Barcelona?
Although, Barcelona has not enjoyed their best season so far, a couple of players have climbed onto the scene, potentially ejecting Fati from the picture.
Players like Lamine Yamal, Fermin Lopez and recently, Vitor Roque have impressed fans greatly and may cause the club to overlook Fati’s potentials, with his injuries doing more harm to his chances.
Mature players like João Felix, Ferran Torres and Raphinha Dias have also enjoyed some positive moments for Barcelona this season, elongating the list of players in the pecking order, thus, squeezing chances of revival from Fati should he return to the club.
From whatever side the story is examined, much is expected of Ansu Fati if he is to return to that status of a top player, but, he’s firstly got to work on his consistency as a player.