Barcelona teenage superstar Ansu Fati has taken the No. 10 shirt at the Camp Nou following the exit of Lionel Messi this summer but he insists it acts as a “motivation”
The 18-year-old stepped into the breach at the Camp Nou following Messi’s shock summer exit – the Argentine ending his career-long association with the Blaugrana to pen a two-year deal at Paris Saint-Germain.
The Spain international was speaking after signing a new long-term contract at the Catalan giants through to the summer of 2027, with a buyout clause of €1billion (£840million).
The teenage superstar has recovered from a long-term knee injury and is back in first-team action for Barca but has started just one match this campaign as he seeks to regain fitness.
Fati netted in the club’s recent La Liga wins over Levante and Valencia, while coming off the bench in the Champions League matches against Benfica and Dynamo Kiev.
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The Blaugrana have a new-look attack this summer due to the exits of Messi and Antoine Griezmann, with Memphis Depay, Luuk de Jong and Sergio Aguero all added to Ronald Koeman’s ranks.
Yet none of the new arrivals took on the No. 10 jersey, with teenage sensation Fati inheriting the number – which had previously been adorned by Ronaldinho at the Camp Nou.
Fati told a press conference on Thursday: “It’s true that the No. 10 jersey has been worn by Leo [Messi] and many players but I’m calm.
“I know what I can bring to this team.
“For me it’s not a pressure.
“No one is going to be like Leo, no one is going to be like [former captains Carles] Puyol or Xavi [Hernandez].
“No one is going to equal what Leo has done.
“I’m going to follow my own journey. I still haven’t done anything.
“I hope I can have a career like they have had.
“Any player could have worn the No. 10.
“I’m grateful that the captains offered me the number and luckily, I got it. It’s an extra motivation for me. I don’t look at the number but focus on what I can do on the pitch to help the team.”
Barca president Joan Laporta added when asked about the topic of the club’s famous number: “We were in no hurry, but we didn’t want to drag on the issue.
“We didn’t put any pressure on Ansu.
“He said he would take the No. 10 if the captains would authorise it.
“We want to take pressure away from him but the No. 10 suits him very well because of his style of play.
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“The public are in love with him and are with him. He is very motivated.”
The Guinea-Bissau-born forward, who has four senior caps for Spain, is the second Barca teenage star to pen a new contract at the club this month with a €1billion release clause.
He has netted 15 goals in 47 appearances for the Blaugrana and spent 10 months on the sidelines with a serious knee injury, which required multiple surgical procedures.