• Barcelona's Ansu Fati is back in training with the first team
  • Fati is among the players Barca is relying on in the post-Lionel Messi era
  • The teenager has long been a favorite to succeed Messi

A returning Barcelona rising star could possibly fill the void Lionel Messi left.

After a seemingly successful rehabilitation, Barca’s Ansu Fati has already returned to “light training” with the club’s senior team ahead of the new La Liga season, Football Espana reported.

Fati has been sidelined for nine months after incurring a devastating knee ligament damage in November 2020 and opted not to undergo operations.

Instead, the 18-year-old has gone through a series of surgical procedures.

An earlier report said that the teenage prodigy was originally expected to return to action several weeks earlier before the season begins, having been allowed by Barcelona doctors to join the pre-season training that started on July 12.

The target for his return was delayed due to an elongated rehabilitation program in Madrid, and the prolific striker was poised to be “back in the first-team action in September,” the report said.

However, Barcelona has shown fans a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel after the club posted a short video clip of a healthy Fati doing some drills with the football.

Fati has long been earmarked as a future Barcelona star, and with Messi now out of the picture, the youngster is among the set of new faces the club is banking to this season, Marca reported.

There has been an array of starlets who impressed in their maiden season with Barcelona but it was Fati who became the favorite to follow in the footsteps of Messi.

In fact, the Argentine himself gave him the said privilege.

“I really like him and I try to help and support him,” Messi said of Fati in 2019. “I’d like them [Barcelona] to bring him on gradually, like they did with me when I started, taking things nice and easy and without putting pressure on him.”

(FILES) Lionel Messi kissing goodbye to Barcelona is also disastrous news for La Liga as a whole
(FILES) Lionel Messi kissing goodbye to Barcelona is also disastrous news for La Liga as a whole AFP / Josep LAGO

In his debut season with the senior team, Fati quickly made an impact, especially in Barca’s attack, having bagged a total of eight goals in 29 matches across all competitions.

Fati’s remarkable campaign has prompted Barcelona to secure his services for a long period of time.

In September last year, the Catalans finally sealed his future by penning a new long-term contract that includes a staggering €400 million ($468 million) buy-out clause.

Prior to the fresh set of terms, Fati’s contract with Barcelona was set to expire in two years.

By inking the said deal, the forward will now stay at Camp Nou until 2024.