Barcelona made a mediocre debut in the Champions League on Tuesday, drawing 0-0 with Borussia Dortmund. Beyond the point, the game left three positives: Marc-Andre ter Stegen's performance, Lionel Messi's return to action and Ansu Fati's European debut. The 16-year-old made history; now it's time to assure his future.
Barça must think long and hard about what to do with Ansu's talent. He has demonstrated over the last month that he fits in with the elite and is an exceptional football with a future in the first team.
The first alternative, maybe the most attractive for many fans and even Ansu himself, is to integrate him into the first team. That would mean training with the first team every day alongside the world's best players and taking advantage of the minutes Ernesto Valverde hands him. The negative is that, as he approached 17, he would not be guaranteed minutes every week.
Another option is that he trains with Valverde's side and at the end of the week does a session with the B team if he's not going to be involved with the first team. That way, he would have more chance of playing every weekend and maturing as a player. The possible handicap would possibly be the difficulty in integrating into Barça B.
PROS & CONS
In this sense, integrating Ansu into Barça B but having available for the first team training and matches when necessary -- as happens with Riqui Puig -- would be a solution in the middle which would allow him to have competitive continuity and would perhaps favour his maturation as a footballer.
There's a final alternative -- a much more conservative one. That would be for him to work with Victor Valdes' U19 team, as was initially the plan this season. The positive is guaranteed minutes and games of less pressure. But it could be viewed as a regression to go from scoring against Valencia and playing in the Champions League to playing in the Division de Honor.
Barça, the player and his entourage need to look at the options and choose the best one, all while keeping his progression and development in mind. He's shown that he can handle the pressure at the top level.