The biggest talking point after Spain’s elimination from the Qatar World Cup last year was one of Luis Enrique’s parting statements as the manager of La Roja.
The former Barcelona coach gave an interview after the disappointing result to Morocco and revealed that there was one player in his squad whom he regretted taking to the National Team camp.
Of the 26 soccer players I took to the World Cup, I would leave one out and take another. Now I can say it, although I won’t say who I would leave or who I would take. There is one that I would have liked to take and another that I took and what I saw was not what I expected.”
The manager’s honest confession triggered a wave of rage in Spain and a hunt to find the imposter in the 26-member list. Many names were speculated to be the one Enrique meant, and Fati was one of them.
Through his report in MARCA, Jose Felix Diaz confirms that it was indeed the Barcelona protege that the former manager was describing. The story adds up with the inclusion of this final piece, especially given how little the youngster featured in the competition.
Two names competed for one spot in the squad ahead of the World Cup — Borja Iglesias and Ansu Fati. The former was coming off a great run of form and was the favourite to make it into the shortlist.
However, it was Enrique’s personal choice to sacrifice the in-form veteran for a youngster with promise. Much like Cules across the globe, the coach hoped that Fati would regain his form in due time and regain the X factor he provided pre-injury.
As it panned out, the 20-year-old made just two appearances in Qatar with not a single start under his belt. He did not manage a single shot in his 45 minutes on the field nor a key pass in that duration.
The La Masia star’s situation has not improved with the return of club football. Xavi has not given the youngster much prominence in recent games and it is clear that he is far from the level he used to bring to the table.
Yesterday, Ansu’s father Bori Fati gave an explosive interview about his son’s difficult moment and took a dig at the club for not giving him more minutes. Yet, one knows that the player has no one to blame but himself.