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Tottenham linked with loan move for Barcelona forward Ansu Fati

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room.

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FC Barcelona v Tottenham Hotspur - Pre Season Friendly Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

We haven’t really talked about Ansu Fati, and it’s past time that we did. Virtually all summer there has been a low-lying buzz — not even buzz really, just kind of like cosmic background radiation — linking Tottenham with a move for 20-year old Barcelona wide forward Ansu Fati. That background hum has gotten a lot stronger here in the final days of the window.

It’s even reached Fabrizio Romano, who states that Tottenham are currently in negotiations with Barca to arrange a loan for Fati this coming season, one that could include a purchase option or obligation to join permanently. And it seems like Fati is even potentially open to the deal.

Fati is an exciting young talent — born in Guinea-Bisseau, he represents Spain in international competition, and was considered a future superstar after Barcelona snaffled him up from Sevilla’s academy as a schoolboy. In 2019 he became the youngest ever player to score in La Liga play as a 16-year old. He’s super fast, direct, and excellent with the ball at his feet, an almost ideal winger/wide forward in a system like Ange-Ball. You understand why Spurs are interested.

But Barcelona doesn’t just let a player like that go unless there are some issues, and there are a few. Most significantly, Fati has a pretty significant injury history — four reported knee surgeries before the age of 20. Some of that, according to The Athletic, was due to Barcelona trying to rush his recovery and failing to allow his injury to properly heal. But it’s definitely concerning, and conceivably could have lowered part of his impressively high ceiling.

The other major issue is his salary — some reports have Fati making as much as £270k/wk after he signed a new Barcelona contract during COVID. Even as a rich club in a post-Kane era, that’s a haul for Spurs to absorb, especially for a 20 year old, and a pretty significant financial risk for a player who has a couple of minor injury related red flags and who may no longer be the same kind of player as he was.

But the talent is pretty undeniable, and Fati is young enough that you can still dream on him pretty big even with the injuries behind him. Last season he had 7 goals and 3 assists in just over 1300 minutes for Barca and he did it in a mostly uninjured season. Barcelona need to raise some funds to register players (they can’t keep pulling palancas forever) and are attempting to do it through some targeted player sales; Fati, for whatever reason, is a player that they’ve identified as one they are willing to let go.

Barca seems to be attempting to push Fati into accepting a loan deal this summer, but it seems unlikely that Spurs would commit to a player, even one as talented as Fati, without some sort of pathway to making him a permanent player, whether that be a purchase option or obligation.

There’s probably lots more to come from this rumor, but there also seems to be some significant smoke behind it. For me, it’s an expensive gamble but one that could be super exciting and in my opinion worth the financial risk. Fati is a generational talent who, like Ledley King, can point to his bum knee as a reason why he might never hit the astronomical highs over the course of his career. But also like Ledley, that doesn’t mean he can’t be a very, very good player. Spurs would do well to jump on this if the opportunity truly presents itself. (And especially if they can convince him to take a modest pay cut.)