News Matches

Teenage Barcelona star Fati earns first Spain Under-21s call-up

14:25 BST 11/10/2019
Ansu Fati Barcelona 2019-20
The 16-year-old has received clearance from FIFA to represent La Roja and will get his first taste of international football in the coming days

Barcelona teenager Ansu Fati has been called up to the Spain Under-21s squad for the first time.

The 16-year-old only received clearance to play for Spain on Thursday , and is being thrown into the mix in the country’s youth system at the earliest opportunity.

Many felt Fati would have been called up to the Spanish ranks in time for the upcoming U17 World Cup, which gets under way in Brazil later in October.

But an injury to Barcelona team-mate Carles Perez has given him an opportunity to bed into the system at a higher level.

Fati was born in Guinea-Bissau but moved to Spain aged six and began his career as a youth at Sevilla before moving to Barcelona in 2012.

Having been granted Spanish citizenship by the country’s Interior Ministry, he then had to wait for clearance from FIFA, which came through on Thursday.

One of FIFA’s requirements was that he was able to prove he had not previously played for Guinea-Bissau at senior level. Given his age there were few doubts about this, but these kinds of administration tasks explain the delay between him being granted Spanish citizenship on September 20, and getting clearance from FIFA on October 10.

It is for this reason he was not able to be added to the original U21 squad list for this round of games, but the injury to his club-mate meant Spain could call up a replacement, and they did not hesitate in calling up Fati.

Injuries to Barcelona stars including Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez earlier on in the season meant Fati was introduced to first-team football at an early age.

He became the youngest plaeyer to represent the Blaugrana when making his debut against Real Betis in August before scoring against both Osasuna and Valencia in games that followed.

It has been the same story at international level. Spain have been eager to get him to commit to them, fast-tracking his application for naturalisation, and It would not be a surprise to see him called up for the senior squad within the next couple of years.

He will now be in with a chance of featuring in Spain U21s European Championships qualifier against Montenegro on Tuesday.