Fati vs Messi: How does Barcelona's record-breaking teen star compare to the Camp Nou legend?
No, we are not talking about Lionel Messi, but Barca's 17-year-old attacking prodigy, Ansu Fati.
After nearly two weeks of headlines surrounding the future of Messi at Camp Nou were brought to an end by Goal's exclusive interview with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner, it was only poetic that Barca's next big hope stole the show two days later on his full debut for Spain.
In his second cap, and first start, against Ukraine three days later, the teenager won the penalty for Sergio Ramos's openerbefore scoring the team's third goalin the first half to become Spain's youngest ever goalscorer.
In a dark period for Barcelona - punctuated by the saga involving Messi's future, losing the title to Real Madrid and the 8-2 thumping by Bayern Munich in the Champions League - Fati has emerged as a shining light and a genuine reason for the club's supporters to be excited.
But how does the rapid development of Guinea Bissau-born youngstercompare with Messi's initial rise on his way to becoming the footballing king of Catalunya?
On August 25, 2019,Fati made his Barcelona senior debut as a 78th minute substitute in their 5-2 victory against Real Betis - becoming the club's second youngest debutant, aged 16 years, 298 days.
The winger had completed a stunning six-year rise to the first team after signing for La Masia as a 10-year-old, with his previous youth team football played with Sevilla.
When Messi made his Barca debut with an eight-minutecameo off the bench against Espanyol on October 16, 2004, he became the second-youngest player to play for the club at the time.
His journey saw him only spend three years at La Masia before his senior bow, after developing until age 13 at Newell's Old Boys back in Argentina.
Only six days after his first-team debut, Fati scored his maiden Barcelona goal in their 2-2 draw at Osasuna - becoming the club's youngest ever league goalscorer and third-youngest in La Liga history.
Despite his diminutive size and stature, Fati rose highest to execute a brilliant header that nestled in the bottom left-hand corner.
Messi also became the youngest league goalscorer in the club's history - at17 years and 331 days old - when he netted his first goal for Barcaon May 1, 2005, against Albacete, with Ronaldinho providing the assist.
The Brazilian maestro played a delicious lob over the defence into Messi's pathbefore the young Argentine, with composure that would become trademark, deftly executed his own lob over the advancing goalkeeper.
Not only did Fati become Barcelona's youngest-ever Champions League goalscorer with his winner against Inter aged 17 years, 40 days on December 10, 2019, he also became the youngest in the competition's history.
After playing a one-two with Luis Suarez just outside the area, Fati launched a lethal right foot shot that nestled in the bottom corner, earning a 2-1 victory versus the Nerazzurri.
Messi scored his first Champions League goal in his second senior campaign at the club and in his fifth appearance in the competition on November 2, 2005, against Panathinaikos.
Some terrible defending by the Greek Super League side saw a fresh-faced Messi takethe ball off the defenders, lob it over the goalkeeper andfinish from point-blank range.
Source : goal.com
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