Barcelona confirmed on Wednesday morning that their iconic number 10 shirt – worn for so long by Camp Nou legend Lionel Messi – has been handed to 18-year-old wonderkid Ansu Fati.
Following Messi’s emotional departure to Paris Saint-Germain last month, there had been much speculation about his number being retired, out of respect for everything that the six-time Ballon d’Or winner gave to the club.
Ultimately, though, that is not the direction that the Blaugrana have opted to take. Instead, they have decided to continue the legacy of the shirt, which once also belonged to Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho.
The famed jersey will be played in by La Masia product Fati going forward, a testament to how highly Barca rate his long-term potential.
Here are 10 things that you might not know about the new owner of Barcelona’s number 10 shirt.
10. He was born in Guinea-Bissau
Although Fati now plies his trade in one of Europe’s most famous cities, Fati was actually born thousands of miles away from Barcelona – in the small African country of Guinea-Bissau on October 31 2002.
However, he moved to Spain alongside his family at the age of six, settling in the town of Herrera in Seville. Despite his father and brother both playing football in his country of birth, it was in Herrera that Fati’s love of the game began to blossom.
9. Turned up to his first match as a youngster barefoot
It did not take locals in Herrera long to realise that Fati was a special talent, even if he did turn up to his first match without any boots on!
“It was spectacular, we were amazed, we did not know where it had come from, but it was clear that he knew how to play: nobody took the ball away from him,” recalled local club coordinator Joaquin Sanchez of a young Fati.
8. He Once Turned Down Real Madrid
Fati’s incredible ability soon became the talk of the local footballing community – and it wasn’t long until La Liga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona were battling it out over his signature.
According to his father, Los Blancos wanted to sign Fati but the youngster himself only had desires on joining Barcelona as part of their famed La Masia academy.
Fati was a member of the Sevilla academy at the time – and had to sit out a full year until he was legally able to sign for Barca. We’re guessing he’s doesn’t regret that decision now, though.
7. He overcame a broken leg in 2015
Fati’s outrageous range of skills made him somewhat of a target for opposition defenders at youth level, who would often try to deal with his threat by simply fouling him at every opportunity.
In a match against the Espanyol youth team in December 2015, one bad challenge, in particular, left Fati with a broken tibia and fibula in his right leg. He had only just signed with Barca, but would miss 10 months of action.
6 . Barcelona needed to obtain his parents’ permission to play Fati on his full debut
When the time finally came for a 16-year-old Fati to make his full debut for Barcelona against Real Betis in August 2019, La Liga regulations meant that the club had to ask his parents for permission to play him in the evening fixture.
Of course, they happily gave it – proudly watching on as their son helped Barca to a 5-2 victory.
5. Youngest player in history to record a goal and an assist in the same La Liga game
Shortly after Fati made his bow for the Blaugrana, the records started tumbling thick and fast.
On his first start for the club, Fati become the youngest player in La Liga history to grab both a goal and an assist in the same game. Valencia were shell-shocked as Fati managed to nail the pair of accolades within the first seven minutes of the game.
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4. Youngest-ever goalscorer in the Champions League
Not content with smashing La Liga records, Fati also helped himself to a slice of European history in the months following his call-up to the Barca first team. He struck the winner for Barca in their December 2019 visit to Inter at just 17 years and 40 days old, making him the youngest man ever to find the net in the competition.
3. Youngest-ever goal scorer with the Spanish national team
There’s a theme developing here! Fati broke a 95-year-old record when he scored for Spain against Ukraine in the Nations League shortly before his 18th birthday.
The game marked his first-ever start for his country, which was also his first opportunity to play alongside a childhood idol.
2. Fati idolised Jesus Navas growing up
Having spent so many years at Barcelona, you might guess that Fati’s biggest inspiration would be Messi, Xavi or Ronaldinho (to name but a few). However, the player he actually looked up to more than anyone else was Jesus Navas – an icon of his hometown club Sevilla.
Fati even wore purple-coloured boots in the early stages of his career in tribute to Navas.
1. Youngest-ever goalscorer in El Clasico history
It’s no secret that the biggest games on the calendar for any Barcelona fan each season are those against arch-rivals Real Madrid.
Fati wrote himself firmly into Barca folklore in October 2020, when he found the net against Real to become the youngest-ever goalscorer in the fixture – another record he snatched while under the age of 18.
Now in possession of a brand-new squad number, Fati will be looking to add many more goals against Real to his resume in the coming years.
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