The Ansu Fati fitness dilemma
The player has yet to find his spark; those around him believe he needs to accumulate more minutes to get fit, while the club maintains that physical precautions are being followed.
The last time Ansu Fati played an entire match was on 6 September 2020. Two years and almost a month later, the academy player returned to play 90 minutes.
A period of time in which he has suffered the most bitter side of the football. That of the serious injury, that of the relapses. That knee has evolved into a nightmare from which he is trying to wake up. And to forget once and for all.
In this comeback season, the Spanish-Guinean is struggling to find himself. Recovering his confidence is going to be key.
Xavi and the club have maintained since the start of the season that there will be no haste and there's a plan to follow. After almost three months of competition, the striker is yet to reach his peak form. He doesn't have the spark or the elusiveness that he showed when he burst onto the scene.
It's early days and it's by no means definitive. But it does generate a certain uneasiness in Barcelona. Ansu is one of the fans' favourites. A home-grown boy with something special.
There is a dilemma right now around his fitness. On the one hand, the player and his entourage believe that he needs to accumulate more games and minutes to reach that peak form. This was evident from his reaction last Saturday after being substituted by Xavi.
"Have I really been the worst? he asked Eric Garcia on the bench after leaving the pitch visibly upset.
This dissatisfaction from his entourage clashes with the club's vision. Both the staff and the sporting leadership believe that he is not yet fit enough to play with more continuity and have more minutes. They hold firm that after everything that has happened, there is no need to rush into anything.
With just a week of competition ahead before the World Cup break, Ansu Fati has a lot of work cut out to enter the final list of Luis Enrique. The Asturian coach has already said that "at the moment I don't see Ansu Fati for the list, he doesn't have the level" after not including him in the squad for the last international break.
Other strikers are playing more regularly and in better form, but the striker's elusiveness and the fact that he has always performed well under Lucho in Spain give him some hope. These last two league games could be decisive.
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