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Barcelona sensation Ansu Fati advised to drop down to B team by Kluivert

5:49 AM IST 20/11/19
Ansu Fati Barcelona 2019-20
The La Masia chief thinks the youngster might have to fall back into the reserves, with regular playing time likely to be limited at senior level

Teenage winger Ansu Fati might have to drop back down into Barcelona's B team in order to feature week in, week out, according to Barca academy director Patrick Kluivert.

At just 16 years and 298 days old, Fati became the youngest player to appear for Barca since 1941 when he came on as a late substitute in a 5-2 home win over Real Betis on August 28.

A week later, he netted his first senior goal for the Spanish champions in a 2-2 draw at Osasuna, becoming the club's youngest ever La Liga goalscorer in the process.

Ernesto Valverde eventually granted Fati his first start on September 14, and he doubled his account with a brilliant first-time finish to help Barca earn another 5-2 victory at Camp Nou.

The teenage sensation has since managed to rack up eight La Liga appearances in total, while also featuring twice in the Champions League, emerging as one of the brightest young prospects in European football.

However, Kluivert thinks Fati's development might be best served by stepping back into the B team for a while, given the fact he has only lined up in Valverde's starting XI on three occasions.

When asked how Fati's progression is being managed at Camp Nou, Kluivert told SPORT: "It's being overseen more by (sporting director Eric) Abidal and (his assistant Ramon) Planes.

"We're communicating well with each other. If all the first-team players are at 100 per cent, I have the feeling that he will have to play for Barca B to get some minutes in his legs. We saw that with Carles Perez at the weekend, too."

Fati could yet find himself in Barca's squad for their next La Liga outing on Saturday, with a tough trip to Leganes scheduled as club football resumes following the international break.

The Blaugrana sit top of the standings after 12 fixtures, but are only ahead of arch-rivals on Real Madrid on goal difference after an inconsistent start to the 2019-20 season.

Valverde's future at Camp Nou has been the subject of much speculation recently, with Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman touted as his potential successor.

However, the Spaniard still enjoys Kluivert's full confidence, and he refuses to be drawn on any rumours of a change in the managerial hot seat at Barca in the near future.

"Out of respect for Valverde, I don't want to position myself," he said. "(Ronald) is a very good coach, he's doing really well with the Dutch national team.

"One day? I don't know, maybe, but I insist, out of respect for Valverde, I don't want to talk about other managers when there's one in a job at this club." 

After their latest domestic clash, Barca will welcome Borussia Dortmund to Camp Nou in a crucial Champions League showdown on November 27.

Valverde's men are not yet guaranteed a place in the last 16, sitting just one point clear of Dortmund at the top of Group F, with Serie A giants Inter four points off the summit heading into matchday five.