Ansu Fati is one of those special talents which comes through La Masia every now and again. He is someone who everybody praises and uses the phrase "he'll definitely make it" whenever his name is mentioned. Not just "making it" in terms of the first team but actually being a key member of the squad. However the same people insist Barça must do their part to ensure he develops and succeeds at the Camp Nou. This is to avoid losing him to another European club if he doesn't get the playing time as well as making sure he doesn't let the fame impact his development.
The Bissau-Guinean native is currently seen as a member of the first-team squad. Ansu spends his entire day at the training ground with the senior players and has the same amount of time off as others. Ernesto Valverde handed him his debut on the 25th August and it's changed his life forever. He was the second substitute to come on against Betis and hasn't taken a step back since. Ansu later attended to the opening of the 'Estadi Johan Cruyff' and it was hard for him to even enter the building due to the number of supporters who wanted his signature. We're talking about a 16-year-old here who, whilst not sure with how to deal with big crowds, dreamt about these moments.
"He's lost his privacy"
After his historic debut against Real Betis he made the front pages of newspapers, had articles and news reports dedicated to him. His image was passed around amongst Barça supporters as they'd found their new hero. This was only increased when he scored his first goal for the club against Osasuna. "He's lost his privacy." It's impossible to get that back.
Ansu continues to live his life despite the fanfare surrounding him and his future. The day after scoring his first official goal, he asked for five tickets to watch Barça B face Nastic. The only thing the club asked was for him to take the seats alongside the president as to avoid an avalanche of fans demanding his autograph and asking to take photos with him. That didn't stop Ansu happily posing with supporters who approached him. The Barça directors have spoken to the player's father, Bori Fati, and asked him to make fewer comments to the media as to not put more pressure on young Ansu.
"He's still a kid," is what the coaches at La Masia are saying. However his actions show that of someone fully aware of what he needs to do. Once the match had finished, Ansu returned to the Joan Gamper training centre where he spends all his afternoons. In fact, he's the only player from the first team who spends his free time visiting friends throughout La Masia. Ansu is often accompanied by his brother Miguel, who is in a much younger category. Most 16-year-olds hang around in a park but Ansu continues along the same path, spending his free time around the club, a place where he's just another face and doesn't need to worry about cameras being pushed into his face.
His following has exploded on social media
It isn't easy to have 67,000 followers on Instagram before you make your debut, and even more difficult to reach 840,000 after scoring your first goal for Barça. That's what the last two weeks have seen in terms of social media growth for Ansu. The club have asked him to react calmly to the recent rise in fame and he's done just that. He's only added four photos over the last few weeks: his debut against Betis, the opening of the Estadi Johan Cruyff, Messi hugging him and his first goal for Barça.
The academy star must continue to live the same life he had before his debut and Barça are doing everything to keep things 'normal'. That isn't proving difficult because Ansu knows the path he's on and simply wants to "play and enjoy" his football. Just like any other kid his age does.