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Barcelona wonderkid Ansu Fati cleared to play for Spain after securing Spanish citizenship

17:28 BST 20/09/2019
Ansu Fati Barcelona Valencia La Liga 2019
The 16-year-old winger has been granted a Spanish passport and will be added to La Roja's U17 World Cup squad

Barcelona wonderkid Ansu Fati has been cleared to play for Spain after being granted Spanish citizenship by the country’s Interior Ministry.

Fati was born in Guinea-Bissau but, having moved to Spain at the age of six, is now eligible for citizenship having resided in the country for ten years.

He might also have been able to represent Portugal, as Guinea-Bissau is a former Portuguese territory and special arrangements are in place regarding the acquisition of Portuguese citizenship.

But as soon as he became a Spanish national, the 16-year-old was immediately added to the long list for Spain’s U17 World Cup squad and is likely to make the final cut for the tournament which kicks off in Brazil on October 26.

Spain’s manager at that age group, David Gordo, has already spoken about bringing Fati into his squad.

"I know that he wants to play for Spain," said Gordo.

"We are all in agreement and are confident that the situation can be sorted.

"Our preliminary list will be submitted to FIFA for the World Cup on September 25, and I hope Fati will be in it.

"We know that he has the possibility of representing Guinea-Bissau, but we are hopefully of agreeing a deal for him to play for Spain."
 
The teenager will turn 17 at the tournament if he is selected for the final squad and, despite his youth, has been trusted to play a key role in Barca’s attack at the beginning of the new season.

The young star has been fast-tracked to the top, having only signed his first professional contract for the club in July 2019, and by September he was starting his first Champions League game in the highlight fixture of Group F against Borussia Dortmund.

Between those momentous dates, he was also playing his part for Ernesto Valverde’s side in the league, becoming the youngest player to play for the club since 1941, and even needed permission from his parents to play in a late kick off.

Barca have been without Lionel Messi at the beginning of this season so have had to rely on new signing Antoine Griezmann to provide their goals and attacking flair, with Luis Suarez also missing games through injury.

But Fati has settled in among these global stars after making his La Liga debut against Real Betis on August 25. He scored his first La Liga goal against Osasuna in the subsequent league fixture, becoming the youngest player to score for Barcelona in the process, and then bagged a goal and assist the week after against Valencia in his first start for the club.

It’s been a whirlwind few months, and on top of these club achievements he has had some decisions to make on the international stage. All the signs point to him eventually becoming a full international for Spain, but until he makes a senior appearance for the country in a competitive game he will still have other options available to him.

Given his talent, it’s likely that Spain will look secure his services sooner rather than later, and by all accounts this would also suit the player.