Ansu Fati (£6.5m) arrived at Brighton and Hove Albion on a season-long loan from Barcelona on transfer deadline day.
There is no option to buy included in the deal but the Seagulls are paying 80% of his Barcelona contract over the next 10 months, suggesting he will play a major role.
Fati, the youngest-ever goalscorer for Spain, adds further quality to Albion’s attack as they prepare for UEFA Europa League football.
In this Scout Report, we assess the transfer from a Fantasy Premier League (FPL) perspective – and in particular, look at how Kaoru Mitoma (£6.5m) could be affected.
FATI TO BRIGHTON: IN QUOTES
“If you work with this talent, you have much responsibility because it’s our football heritage and we can’t make mistakes with these players because football needs this talent and you have to manage it in different ways. I’ve always thought like this. Especially for the big, big talent, I feel the responsibility to help this talent to become great players. Sometimes the coaches think only of the result, only of their career but football needs to have great players. It’s a big responsibility and I feel it. I think our style is very close with his characteristics, with his qualities.” – Roberto De Zerbi on Ansu Fati
“First I spoke to Roberto [De Zerbi] and he told me that he has full confidence in me and told me what he thought of me. For me, that was a key factor in coming here. He was the main person who convinced me to come here with what he said, how he sees me as a player, and what I can improve. I think that was the key. I want to have a great season, fight for the team, try to qualify for Europe like Brighton did last season, and if we can qualify for the Champions League, that would be even better.” – Ansu Fati
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Ansu Fati has made over 100 appearances for Barcelona in all competitions since making his debut as a 16-year-old in August 2019.
After impressing then-manager Ernesto Valverde in training, the Spaniard was promoted to the first-team and it wasn’t long before he was breaking records.
Just six days after making his debut, Fati scored his first goal against Osasuna, making him Barcelona’s youngest-ever goalscorer at the time. He also holds the record as the youngest-ever UEFA Champions League scorer and the youngest-ever to find the net for Spain.
However, several disruptive injuries stalled his progress and forced him down the pecking order.
Fati was still able to produce seven goals and three assists to help Barcelona win La Liga in 2022/23, but only 12 of his 36 appearances were starts. That lack of faith continued into the new campaign, as he made just three substitute outings for a combined total of 47 minutes, allowing Brighton to swoop in.
Fati made two appearances at the 2022 FIFA World Cup for Spain, whom he has represented at senior level nine times, scoring two goals.
WHERE DOES FATI FIT IN AT BRIGHTON?
“I’m very pleased, it’s a big player. We lost Enciso and we needed one big player. We are lucky because we have a lot of young players, potential top players and it will be one responsibility more.” – Roberto De Zerbi on Ansu Fati
Ansu Fati has spent most of his career playing as an inverted left winger, where he can use his smart dribbling and explosive pace to cut inside onto his stronger right foot.
However, if Roberto De Zerbi were to use him in that same position for Brighton, it would put him in direct competition with star man Mitoma.
Due to Mitoma’s impact since the Italian took charge, a consistent left-wing role perhaps feels less likely then, although his arrival does give De Zerbi the option of occasionally resting the Japan international, which could be important with Albion’s UEFA Europa League campaign about to kick-off.
Fati obviously hasn’t gone to the Amex for a year to sit on the bench, given that Tony Bloom broke the club’s wage structure to accommodate him, so a role in behind the centre-forward perhaps feels more likely.
The Seagulls have a vacancy at no. 10 due to Julio Enciso’s (£5.3m) knee injury, which is expected to keep him out for four months, so he could rival Joao Pedro (£5.5m) and play more centrally from the start. Fati has it in his locker, too, having played through the middle a few times for Barcelona.
If the recent injuries suffered by Danny Welbeck (£5.8m) and Evan Ferguson (£6.0m) keep them out of Gameweek 5, Pedro might even be needed up front for Brighton’s trip to Old Trafford, creating space in behind for Fati to make his debut.
Upon signing, Fati said “I can play anywhere up front”, suggesting he can operate on the left, right or through the middle. It may even be that De Zerbi wants him to fulfill multiple roles over the coming season.
FATI V BRIGHTON MIDFIELDERS 2022/23: UNDERLYING PER 90 STATS
Fati appears more of a direct goal threat than the other Brighton midfielders currently available to De Zerbi, having ranked among the top 10 players in La Liga for shots per 90 minutes (4.00) last term.
The above underlying numbers certainly suggest he could help fill the void left by Enciso’s injury, further strengthening his case for starting in a no. 10 role, which is the same position the Paraguayan has predominantly been used in.
Creatively, all Brighton midfielders’ bar Facundo Buonanotte (£4.8m) were ahead for chances created per 90 minutes in 2022/23.
FATI: THE FPL PROSPECTS
Troubled by knee and leg injuries in the past, Fati will be hoping his arrival at Brighton can spark an improvement in his fortunes.
Those previously discussed underlying numbers, especially for goal threat, offer encouragement. The way Brighton play under De Zerbi will surely benefit him, too.
The Seagulls see plenty of the ball, having averaged 64.3% possession so far this term, and rank second for expected goals (xG), so Fati should instantly feel at home with those attacking principles.
So, if Fati can nail down a starting role and rack up enough minutes, he carries real potential.
Fati wasn’t involved in the 3-1 win over Newcastle United in Gameweek 4, having only arrived in England 48 hours before. However, De Zerbi has confirmed that he will be available for selection after the international break. It means Fati could make his debut against Manchester United at Old Trafford in Gameweek 5.
Nonetheless, minutes off the bench perhaps feels more likely in that fixture, with a home match against AEK Athens in the UEFA Europa League four days later arguably better suited to a first start.
“About the transfer market we are happy to close it in a good way. We closed on two very important players in the last days and we are happy. [For Newcastle] it was not the best solution [for Fati and Baleba to play]. They have not yet started working with us. We have to give them the right time to be inside, to come inside to work. Then we will be there, next game.” – Roberto De Zerbi
De Zerbi has spoken about how important it is that he and Brighton help get Fati’s career back on track, so this is a fascinating move that has the potential to make an impact in FPL.
Still, the process could be a gradual one and the issue for Fati is the number of other appealing midfielders available to FPL managers right now.
Brighton’s immediate fixtures are also tough, so allowing him time to settle is probably best advised. We can then reanalyse the situation ahead of Gameweek 10, the point at which Brighton’s fixtures ease: