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FC Barcelona have been accused of trying to force Ansu Fati out of the club with leaks of transfer rumors.
The forward made his breakthrough into the Barca first team as a 16-year-old under Ernesto Valverde in 2019, and subsequently broke a number of youngest goalscorer and appearance maker records for the club in La Liga and the Champions League.
In 2021, he signed a new contract with a €1bn ($1.08bn) release clause through to 2027 and was given Lionel Messi’s iconic number ’10’ shirt in a strong gesture that showed how much the Catalans thought of him as their future.
Fast forward to 2022/2023, however, and Fati is currently struggling for both minutes and form in Xavi Hernandez’s league-leading first XI.
Looking to have lost his pace since two nasty injuries that kept him out of action for considerable periods of time at the turn of the decade, SPORT linked him to Manchester United on Friday before Mundo Deportivo did the same with Bayern Munich on Saturday.
On Monday, Bild and a Sky Sport reporter in Germany separately denied any interest that Bayern has in Fati, which led to serious accusations from former SPORT journalist Josep Capdevila.
“I already told you that at Barca they are crazy to get Ansu off their backs,” Capdevila tweeted. “That is why United or Bayern’s interest in Ansu were interested leaks. Now from Germany they confirm that there is no interest from Bayern,” he added.
Though selling Fati was once unthinkable, the reports come at a time when Barca need to get €200mn ($215mn) off their wage bill to meet La Liga salary limits for 2023/2024 according to the Spanish top flight’s president Javier Tebas.
This has led to suggestions that Barca will need to make a big player sale ahead of next season to balance the books, and Fati could perhaps bring in half or just under half of the mentioned amount.
Last summer, it appeared that Barca were trying to force Frenkie de Jong out of Camp Nou and the midfielder accused them of leaking his contract details to the media at a time when it needed to raise money to buy new players and also meet Financial Fair Play regulations.
“One day a paper published details from my contract,” the playmaker, who was the subject of a bid from Manchester United yet refused to leave, told De Telegraaf.
“I didn’t leak it and only one other party knew about this, so it had to be the club who did this. Suddenly there was a letter in which the question was asked whether my contract was still valid because the previous president made the contract.
“I found it very annoying that the club did this, but I had no further influence on things. I blame these people [those at Barça who wanted him out], but I have nothing to do with them. Yes, they are Barca for me because they lead the club. But I don’t see them when I’m at the club. I have nothing to do with them in my daily life,” De Jong added.
Due to the length of his deal, Fati is under no obligation to up sticks and can instead stay put and fight for his place.
At the weekend, ahead of the 3-0 win against Sevilla where he came on as a late substitute, Fati received backing from Xavi who ruled out any thoughts of offloading the Guinea-Bissau-born sensation.
“No, no, no… Things will work out for him,” Xavi stressed.
“We have to be patient. Ansu is a spectacular asset to the club. We trust him a lot, he is working very well. I am very happy with his tremendous mentality in training, but be patient.
“He is 20 years old and needs time, like everyone else. Things will work out for him, now is not the time to talk about sales,” the coach added.
With a packed schedule including two matches in the Europa League against United ahead, Fati could soon earn starting minutes under the legendary midfielder with an away trip to Almeria on February 19 a good bet.