By 90Min
September 15, 2019

Ernesto Valverde struggled to find the adequate words to describe Ansu Fati after the Barcelona teenager contributed to a goal and an assist in his first start for the club on Saturday.

Deputising for the injured Lionel Messi, the 16-year-old played a starring role in the absence of key forwards, as the home side romped to a 5-2 victory over a beleaguered Valencia at the Camp Nou.

Just two minutes into his full debut, Fati opened the scoring before turning provider as he set up Frenkie De Jong to grab his side's second goal. In doing so, the winger became the youngest player in La Liga history to both score and assist in a match, in a performance that left his manager Valverde in complete awe of his immense talent.

"It is not easy for anyone to play for Barca, even less so for someone as young as Ansu Fati...it is not normal for him to score on the first ball, assist in the second," the Spaniard said, via Goal.

"Everything will be normalised, we are interested in him getting to know himself, that he realises that this is very complicated. Wherever you are, the player who earns his place is the one that plays, there is no secret, the coaches want players to come out; if they are young and have energy you use them. Ansu has qualities that suit us, we will see the potential he has."

Alex Caparros/GettyImages

Naturally, comparisons have already been drawn up between the youngster and Barça legend Messi, but Valverde was quick to quell such suggestions prematurely, insisting that the player needs protection this early in his career.

"I do not care if Ansu Fati's start has been compared with Messi's," he added. "We know that the balloon will start rising now but we will deflate it, it is up to us to protect the player." 

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