For weeks, I have been racking my head with who east attacker we could bring in this summer.
We have previously debated about whether Arsenal needed a striker or a winger. My opinion was simple. Someone to cover Bukayo Saka on the right whilst also being an option up top.
I think I have found my man – Barcelona’s Ansu Fati.
It was not too long ago that Fati was the brightest young thing at Barcelona. The heir apparent to an ageing Lionel Messi.
When Messi left in 2021, it was Fati that inherited his famous number 10 jersey.
In 2019, Bissau born Fati became the second-youngest player to debut for the club. He was just 16 years and 298 days.
6 days later he would score his first goal, and in doing so become Barcelona’s
youngest goalscorer ever and the third-youngest scorer in the history of La Liga.
The records would continue to fall for Fati as he became the youngest player in the history of La Liga to score and assist in the same game. He became the youngest player to appear for Barcelona in the Champions League and the 3rd youngest to play in the collection. He was not yet 17.
At 17 years and 40 days, he would become the youngest goalscorer in Champions League history. He would also be the youngest player to score two in La Liga and later score the 9,000th goal in Barcelona’s history.
Fati would break a 95 year old record when he became Spain’s youngest ever goalscorer at the age of 17 years and 311 days. And then it began to go wrong.
Fati suffered a knee injury against Real Betis and was subbed off at half-time; tests later confirmed that he tore the meniscus in his left knee.
Two days later he underwent surgery and the club announced that he would be out for approximately four months. Four became 9.
323 days after his last game, Fati would make his comeback. His return would last just 4 months before a hamstring injury ruled him out for a further three months.
In his absence, Barcelona have found two new home grown heroes – Pedri and Gavi. Their rise has seen Fati become the forgotten man of Barcelona’s wonderkids. Yet he is still just 20-years-old.
Barcelona’s money troubles have been well documented, and Fati is certainly one they might look to cash in on in the summer.
Pedri and Gavi’s rise over the last 18-months will allow them to do the unthinkable and sell “the next-Messi.” The Barcelona faithful would not be too critical of his departure due to their new heroes.
With his chequered recent history, Fati might have to accept that he has to rebuild his career away from his boyhood club. And potentially become a squad player in the short term. Arsenal could be a good bet for his next destination.
Fati is a versatile forward who started his career as a striker.
Two footed, he has played left, right and centre for Barcelona. This would make him the perfect Saka, whilst also providing that extra option behind Gabriel Jesus.
A 2019 profile by FourFourTwo magazine described him with the following words: “Standing at 5ft 10in, Fati boasts a powerful frame and brings a physical approach to the game which is often lacking among a technically gifted Barcelona side. Nevertheless, despite his robust physique, the La Masia graduate possesses outstanding dribbling skills which, when combined with his speed, makes him incredibly difficult to stop in one-on-one situations.”
The article also highlighted his eye for goal and ability in the air, as well as his vision and ability to control play from midfield.
Fati has the speed, acceleration, ambidexterity, low centre of gravity, and technical skills to make it in the Premier League. He has the intelligence and defensive work-rate to play in Arteta’s high press team.
He was once rated as an £80m player. Rumours are that he could be available for as little as £30m this summer.
Fati to Arsenal is certainly a deal to keep on eye on…