According to Xavi, Ansu Fati will have a big role to play in the second half of the season.
That’s exciting news for Barca fans who desperately want to see the young prodigy live up to the gigantic expectations that he set for himself since making his debut as a 16-year-old in 2019, setting records and blazing a path of opportunity for young players like Pedri and Gavi.
Playing a bigger role, however, doesn’t mean he’s ready to lead Barcelona to the promised land.
This is a process.
Ansu may be physically fit, but the mental challenges will be the most difficult to overcome.
He needs time, patience, and perspective from everyone in the Barcelona community as he makes his way back.
Xavi seems to be managing the situation responsibly.
It was unfortunate to not see Ansu given more chances in the fall, especially considering what it cost him at the World Cup, but not rushing him back was the right call.
Now, however, it’s time to go.
Luckily, his team was successful without him, and isn’t dependent on his productivity up front, especially with the arrival of Robert Lewandowski.
Unlike last season, the squad is healthy, and the depth is strong.
This Barcelona squad doesn’t need Ansu Fati, but it is stronger with him there and able to contribute, even if he needs to rediscover his game, or even evolve into a different player.
Let’s not overreact to his poor performance against Getafe, especially given the circumstances.
Xavi’s plan is to use Ansu more, but ideally in situations that play to his strengths.
With Lewandowski and Ferran Torres suspended, and Memphis Depay off to Atletico Madrid, Ansu had to deputize as a center forward.
This was a good experience for him, even if he was exposed for not having the requisite qualities to be instantly successful. Considering that he was playing against a low block Getafe team, we should be even more understanding of why he struggled.
His first touch was pretty dreadful, which isn’t like Ansu, who has the training necessary to play in tight spaces, and in combination with his Barca team-mates. I would chalk this up to nothing more than a bad day, and the fact that he was navigating a new position. Being effective inside the box is no walk in the park, even if Lewandowski makes it look easy.
Ansu will never be a center forward, but that doesn’t mean he can’t learn to be a better false nine when the team needs it. Other parts of the position, like holding up the play, may never be something he’s naturally good at, but the more he plays, the smarter he will get.
Not to sound like a broken record, but Xavi would do well to keep experimenting with the formation. The traditional 4-3-3 is looking stale, which may be another reason that Barcelona were less dominating on Sunday.
It’s been great to see the deployment of four midfielders. Ansu would do well as a secondary striker, or even playing behind a traditional nine. Sometimes he reminds me of Antoine Griezmann, a talented player that you can’t pigeon hole into a position. His renaissance this season is proof that systems matter, and certain players need more freedom, or at least accommodations, in order to shine.
In the case of Ansu, it’s worth being patient, and finding a way to help him be successful.
This means giving him space to make mistakes, and not jumping on him for having a bad game.
He’s proven his potential. He is young and will get stronger, and he will be able to adapt his game, even if his body doesn’t allow him to do the same things he used to do.
We didn’t fall in love with him because of his athletic abilities, but because of his natural goalscoring instinct. That kid wasn’t afraid of anything. Now he’s a young man, and when he gets his confidence back, he will be a killer again.
With Ferran and Bob out for another game, Ansu will get another chance.
I expect a response. A never give up determination.
Through adversity, character is built.
Ansu had character from the beginning, so imagine what type of player he’ll grow into with the support of the club and culers alike.
We’re behind you Ansu.
This is a process we must trust.
The future is bright in Barcelona, and you’re a big part of it.
Barcelona’s already won one trophy this season because of a clutch moment from the La Masia dreamer.
And when they win more, the name Ansu Fati will be all over it.