Frankly, it’s an absolute joy when you see any young footballer expressing themselves without fear on a football pitch.
That joy is magnified when he happens to be playing for the team you support.
Watching Ansu Fati flourish this season, both for club and country, is only sad for the fact that there are not thousands in the stadiums ready to acclaim him, for it’s what he deserves.
Not since Leo Messi first came onto the scene has anyone had quite the same impact. Bojan Krkic perhaps briefly raised hopes, but Fati is an altogether different proposition.
He has that ability to unsettle defences just by being on the pitch. An opposition’s first thought will soon be turning to ‘how do we stop Fati’ rather than ‘how do we contain Messi.’
To that end, it’s worth considering whether, despite his tender years, whether the key to Barca’s successes in 2020/21 rests in Ansu’s hands.
If not necessarily for the amount of goals he scores, but also for his maturity and associative play.
Perhaps putting it all on his shoulders is wrong, but it’s hard not to get excited by a player who clearly has a good head on his shoulders, is doing all of the right things, and is executing with aplomb almost every week.
How Fati fares in both of those games will hint at what else is to come from the player, and given that Sergio Ramos has seen him up close in the Spanish national side, it’s a fair bet that Los Blancos won’t be taking him lightly.
Particularly with Dani Carvajal out down the side of the pitch where Ansu likes to get to work.
This season is, evidently, the youngster’s breakout campaign, and only serious injury can surely stop him in his tracks.
He would appear to have the full and absolute confidence of the manager too.
“His performance is of the highest level. We are talking about a player who is only 17 years old. Playing three consecutive games at top level football at that age means he is very good. He is also a kid who wants to learn; he trains to learn and improve, and we are here to help him,” Ronald Koeman said this week.
As the season progresses, let’s see just how influential Ansu can become, and with any luck he’ll be able to celebrate in front of the masses before the season is out.