Just a few short months ago, Ansu Fati was being lauded as the next big thing at Barca. Not only that, perhaps the biggest La Masia grad to make the first team since Messi.
Of course, when any kid breaks through and shows even a modicum of special talent, there are always going to be outlets and/or supporters who are going to jump on the bandwagon and get ready to christen ‘the new’ whomever.
After breaking all manner of records in his first few appearances, Ansu was absolutely flavour of the month as far as the club were concerned.
Pictures of warm embraces in the tunnel from Messi evoked the passing of the baton in the same way as Ronaldinho had to our current No.10 and captain.
And yet, here we are in early May, and there’s a genuine concern that the youngster might be used as a makeweight in a deal to bring other, more experienced players in.
Frankly, this all has to stop.
If the Blaugranes want to be held up as the exemplar, as they’ve so often spouted in the past - Mes que un club and all that - then they must lead by example.
The club were always known as one who brought the kids through and allowed them to develop ‘on the job.’
In the time that Josep Maria Bartomeu has been at the helm, Barca have completely lost that. It’s now all about which big names can be brought in, seemingly no matter the cost.
With any luck, the coronavirus pandemic will have forced the board into a drastic rethink, and it could ensure that the technical department have to go back to basics in terms of recruitment - ie, don’t buy in unless it’s absolutely necessary.
Ansu Fati is going to be around for a good long while yet, and the impact he made earlier in 2019/20 has to be the beginning of a glittering career at the Camp Nou and not the end.
I’d dare to suggest that if it meant having a decent sprinkling of young La Masia graduates in the first team again and getting our identity back, that cules would even forego a trophy win or two.
For what he offers, and for the length of time he has left in the game, Barca really cannot countenance letting Ansu leave. Other players, yes, but not him.
If he’s allowed to leave, then I think we all know where we stand.