Xavi's 'joke' comment about Ansu Fati's Barcelona exit returns to haunt him

Ansu Fati is joining Brighton from Barcelona on a season-long loan.

FOOTBALL Xavi's 'joke' comment about Ansu Fati's Barcelona exit returns to haunt him

Mark Kinyanjui 16:20 - 31.08.2023

The heir–apparent to Lionel Messi at Barcelona has surprisingly decided to join Brighton on a season-long loan.

Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez has hinted at his displeasure at Ansu Fati being allowed to join Brighton and Hove Albion on loan, describing his departure as ‘a joke’.

The Blaugrana boss had consistently insisted that the 20-year-old was part of his plans for this season with Tottenham, Chelsea, and Real Madrid previously interested to sign the forward but he is now on course to join the Seagulls.

Quizzed about the possibility of leaving the club earlier in the summer, he fumed:

"This is a joke, isn’t it? I have already been very blunt about Ansu. Debates are being generated that make no sense. Ansu is an important player and is part of the club’s heritage, now and in the future."

However, the Blaugrana’s pressing financial situation meant they had to move players on to register new players – including their impending loan signing of Joao Cancelo from Manchester City.

The Barca youth product featured in 36 of the team’s 38 LALIGA outings last season, albeit only 12 of them were from the start. He had fallen behind Robert Lewandowski and Ferran Torres in the pecking order for the central forward position in the side’s 4-3-3 formation.

The forward became the youngest Barca player in 80 years when he made his debut as a 16-year-old in 2019 and went on to become the youngest Spain international in 85 years – while being the youngest-ever scorer for both his club and the national side.

His record-breaking form continued in his teenage years as he became the youngest-ever scorer in El Clasico before becoming the youngest scorer in the Champions League, while he scored 11 goals of his first 16 shots of his career.

The forward’s remarkable progress was halted in the 2020/21 season after he suffered a serious knee injury which ultimately ruled him out for the remaining six months of the campaign and has seen him struggle to maintain regular fitness in the years since.

Ansu’s cache remains high though – evidenced by the fact that he is under contract at the Catalan giants through to the summer of 2027 and that they are only willing to allow his exit on a loan deal, without the option to buy for Brighton.

Given the loan has no option to buy, it suggests that the heir-apparent to Lionel Messi’s throne as the poster boy of Barcelona could not be over yet.