KEY POINTS

  • Ansu Fati made his senior debut with Barcelona in 2019
  • He has so far scored 17 goals for Barcelona
  • He suffered a serious knee injury last season

Lionel Messi's No. 10 jersey at FC Barcelona has been handed over to 18-year-old Ansu Fati following the Argentina national's exit from Camp Nou this summer. 

Messi, who started his Barcelona journey as the club's No. 30, became the owner of the iconic No. 10 shirt in 2008 and held on to it till his final season with the Catalans. Due to their financial crisis, Barcelona failed to register Messi's new deal and as a result, he ended his 21-year-old association with the Catalans as he left the club to join Paris-Saint Germain (PSG) as a free agent. Interestingly, Messi's current squad number at PSG is No. 30.

While there have been speculations over retiring the No. 10 jersey after Messi's departure from Barcelona, the club has decided to keep the jersey in circulation with Fati being given the honor to wear it. The young forward has massive shoes to fill in as the jersey was also previously worn by stars such as Ronaldinho and Rivaldo, apart from Messi. 

"Despite being just 18 years of age and still recovering from injury, Ansu Fati forms part of Barça's history as a record-breaker and also with the Spanish national side," said Barcelona in an official release.

Since his debut in August 2019, Fati has set records in La Liga and the Champions League. Just six days after his debut for Barcelona's first team, he became the youngest ever player to score in the league for the club. 

Fati, who is believed to be Messi's successor and club's future, has so far netted 17 goals and eight assists in as many as 52 appearances for Barcelona, across competitions.  

The young forward joined Barcelona's La Masia academy in 2012 from Seville's youth set up. In little time, Fati began to gain attention as he rose through the ranks of the academy and has been considered as one of the club's trusted No. 10 players. 

Ansu Fati became the youngest player to score in the Champions League when he netted Barcelona's winner away to Inter Ansu Fati became the youngest player to score in the Champions League when he netted Barcelona's winner away to Inter Photo: AFP / Isabella BONOTTO

Last season, Fati's campaign kickstarted on a high as he netted five goals and provided four assists in 10 competitive matches. However, his progress was halted by a serious knee injury in November 2020. However, Fati has regained full fitness and returned to training after being out of action for as many as nine months. It is understood that Fati, who is yet to play in 2021-22, could be in line for making an appearance when Ronald Koeman's side takes on Bayern Munich in the Champions League group stage after the underway international break.