Barcelona forward Ansu Fati is at least on a par with Paris Saint-Germain superstar Kylian Mbappe, according to LaLiga president Javier Tebas. 

Fati has enjoyed an impressive rise from Barca academy product to first-team star over the past two years, despite having to contend with a number of injury setbacks. 

Among a host of other records set since his debut in August 2019, Fati can lay claim to being Barca's youngest goalscorer and the youngest scorer in Champions League history.  

Mbappe is also no stranger to breaking records, not least becoming the youngest player in history to reach the 100-goal mark in Ligue 1 at 22 years and 91 days old in March.  

The World Cup winner is further along in his development than Fati, having made his senior breakthrough with Monaco in December 2015 before joining PSG two years later. 

While Mbappe is widely heralded as one of the most coveted players in world football, Tebas argues he is no better than Barca youngster Fati. 

"We always like to give a lot of value to what we have outside of Spain," Tebas told El Partidazo de Cope.  

"We have Ansu Fati, who unfortunately has had injuries, but over time he has shown that he is equal to or better than Mbappe." 

Fati, who inherited Lionel Messi's number 10 shirt at Camp Nou in September and recently signed a new long-term deal, has scored 17 goals in 51 appearances for Barca in all competitions. 

Over the same period, Mbappe has found the net 77 times in 97 games for PSG, netting at a rate of one goal every 98 minutes. Fati gets one every 138 minutes. 

Mbappe has also outperformed Fati in terms of assists, setting up his PSG team-mates 33 times compared to three for the Spain international. 

When comparing the players over the same point in their career, Mbappe also has the edge. 

Across his first 51 appearances for Monaco, which like Fati was made up of 27 starts and the rest from the substitutes' bench, Mbappe scored 24 times at a rate of one every 108 minutes and assisted 10 more. 

That includes a big-chance conversion return of 71 per cent at that stage in his career – which has since dropped to 48 – compared to 29 for Fati. 

Barcelona threw away a three-goal lead to underline the issues faced by new coach Xavi as Iago Aspas' last-gasp strike secured a 3-3 draw for Celta Vigo.

Blaugrana legend Xavi was named as the new coach earlier on Saturday, but interim boss Sergi Barjuan remained in charge for the trip to Balaidos and Barca appeared to be cruising to victory after first-half goals from Ansu Fati, Sergio Busquets and Memphis Depay.

Yet an injury to Fati on the cusp of half-time dented the visitors' confidence, with Marc-Andre ter Stegen's error gifted Aspas a goal to spur Celta on.

Nolito headed home in the 74th minute to set up a grandstand finale and just as it seemed Barca had survived the onslaught, Aspas curled in with the last kick of the game. 

Fati's quality was on show from the off, and he did brilliantly to keep his balance and curl a wonderful finish between two defenders and over Matias Dituro.

Barca's second came from a more unlikely source – Busquets curling a superb finish into the bottom-right corner from 20 yards out – before Depay made it three with an excellent header from Jordi Alba's cross.

Fati's game was cut short just shy of half-time, the winger pulling up and clutching his left thigh after trying to race clear of Celta's defence.

The offside flag came to Barca's rescue when Thiago Galhardo slotted in, though there was no such reprieve two minutes later as Ter Stegen fumbled Javi Galan's effort, with Aspas on hand to tuck in.

Hit by injuries to Eric Garcia and Nico Gonzalez, Barca wilted, with Nolito seeing a goal disallowed for handball before he directed a brilliant header beyond Ter Stegen.

Frenkie de Jong hit the crossbar as Barca tried to put the game out of reach, but it was to no avail and, in the 96th minute, Aspas found the bottom-right corner to snatch a share of the spoils and leave Xavi with plenty to ponder.

Xavi's Barcelona tenure has not yet officially started, but the Blaugrana's new coach may have to cope with a lengthy absence for one of the club's star players after Ansu Fati suffered an apparent hamstring injury.

Barca confirmed on Saturday that legendary midfielder Xavi had returned to take over as Ronald Koeman's replacement.

Xavi, whose contract with Qatar Stars League team Al Sadd was terminated on Friday, will be officially presented on Monday and his first game in charge will be a derby against Espanyol.

However, he seems set to be without youngster Fati, who was forced off just before half-time against Celta Vigo on Saturday, having pulled up clutching his left thigh.

Fati had been enjoying a brilliant game, putting Barca ahead early on with a fantastic finish from a tight angle. Sergio Busquets and Memphis Depay subsequently scored to make it 3-0 at the time of the winger's injury.

The teenager only returned to action in September, having endured a long injury lay off due to a serious knee problem that kept him out for the majority of the 2020-21 campaign.

His goal at Celta was his third in LaLiga this season, from just his fifth appearance in the competition, while he has also scored once from three Champions League games.

Fati's injury will also present a blow to Spain coach and former Barca boss Luis Enrique, who had named the forward in his squad for crucial World Cup qualifiers against Greece and Sweden over the next two weeks.

Ansu Fati's superb second-half strike gave Barcelona rare reason to cheer as they boosted their Champions League hopes with a 1-0 win at Dynamo Kiev.

Interim coach Sergi Barjuan saw Barca held to a 1-1 draw by Alaves in his first game in charge and his team were second best for long periods here.

But, amid talk of Barca being set to appoint club legend Xavi as Ronald Koeman's replacement, Sergi's team claimed a narrow win that means he can hand the reins to his successor with their position in Europe much healthier.

It was Fati's vicious close-range strike that made the difference in Kiev, the teenager rifling home in the 70th minute to send Barca second in Group E on Tuesday.

A promising start from Barca soon faded, with the visitors failing to produce a single shot on target in the first half.

It was only the wayward finishing of Mykola Shaparenko that prevented Barca from going into the interval behind, the midfielder twice shooting wide at the end of well-worked moves either side of Marc-Andre ter Stegen denying Carlos de Pena.

The same story played out in the early stages of the second half, with Barca struggling to create anything of note against a Dynamo defence that looked comfortable for much of the contest.

Fati looked to have won Barca a penalty in the 64th minute when he went down in the box, only for VAR to rule he had kicked his own leg, but he did then provide the crucial breakthrough by emphatically dispatching Oscar Mingueza's deflected cross.

Ter Stegen produced a fine diving save to prevent Viktor Tsygankov from equalising, Dynamo left waiting for their first goal of the campaign as Barca took a step towards the knockout stages.

Barcelona forward Ansu Fati has been ruled out of Wednesday's LaLiga clash against Rayo Vallecano with a knee injury.

The Spain international, who signed a new long-term deal at Camp Nou last week, was substituted 16 minutes from time in Barca's Clasico defeat to Real Madrid on Sunday after sustaining a knock.

Ronald Koeman revealed at his pre-match news conference ahead of the meeting with Vallecano that Fati was considered a doubt.

He was not pictured travelling to Madrid with the Barca squad on Wednesday and the LaLiga heavyweights have confirmed the youngster will play no part at Estadio de Vallecas.

A statement on Barcelona's official website read: "Ansu Fati has pain in his right knee. He is unavailable for selection and his recovery will dictate his return".

 

Fati only returned from a 10-month knee injury lay-off, which saw him suffer a number of setbacks along the way, in Barca's 3-0 win over Levante on September 26.

The teenage forward scored in that match and has featured a further five times in all competitions this term, with his only other goal coming against Valencia 10 days ago.

He has scored 15 goals in 49 appearances for the Catalan giants in all competitions, a tally that is bettered only by Luis Suarez (21), Antoine Griezmann (35) and Messi (69) – none of whom are still at the club – since his debut 26 months ago.

Koeman is also without fellow forwards Ousmane Dembele and Martin Braithwaite for the match with Vallecano, while Pedri, Frenkie de Jong and Ronald Araujo are also nursing injuries.

Barca enter the match ninth in LaLiga, with their return of 15 goals after their first nine games their lowest tally at this stage of the campaign since 2003-04 when scoring 11 times.

Barcelona's Gavi will set a Clasico record after he was named in Ronald Koeman's side to take on Real Madrid at Camp Nou.

Gavi became Spain's youngest ever player this month, impressing in a Nations League semi-final win over Italy.

At the age of 17 years and 80 days, the midfielder, who was named alongside Sergio Busquets and Frenkie de Jong, will be the youngest player to start a Clasico match since the turn of the century. 

Ahead of Gavi, Ansu Fati, who has scored twice in LaLiga since returning from a long injury lay-off, was given his second start of the season in Spain's top flight, with Sergino Dest and Memphis Depay completing Barca's frontline.

Fati, who inherited Lionel Messi's number 10 jersey at Barca, is still the youngest player to appear in a LaLiga Clasico this century, having made his debut in the fixture at the age of 17 years and 48 days in December 2019.

Gerard Pique lined up alongside Oscar Mingueza and Eric Garcia in a possible three-man defence, with Jordi Alba on the left flank.

Sergio Aguero, who made cameo appearances in Barca's past two games, was named on the bench again.

Madrid went into the game looking to win twice in a row at Camp Nou in LaLiga for just the third time, and Carlo Ancelotti's side had plenty of Clasico experience in their ranks.

Ballon d'Or hopeful Karim Benzema was selected up top, with Casemiro, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric in midfield. David Alaba was handed a Clasico debut in defence.

Madrid went into Sunday's game on the back of a 1-0 defeat to Barca's city rivals Espanyol. They have not suffered back-to-back defeats in LaLiga since 2018-19.

Ansu Fati dismissed suggestions that inheriting Lionel Messi's number 10 shirt at Barcelona has brought additional expectations after committing his long-term future to the Catalan club.

Fati signed a new six-year contract to keep him at the club until 2027, with a release clause of €1billion included - a week after Pedri had penned a similar extension with the Blaugrana.

The Spain international burst onto the scene after making his debut in August 2019, becoming the club's youngest ever LaLiga goalscorer at the age of 16 years and 304 days.

He is also the youngest scorer in Champions League history, after netting against Inter in December 2019 a minute after his introduction from the bench.

The 18-year-old inherited the number 10 shirt after the departure of Barca great Messi, who left on a free transfer for Paris Saint-Germain amid salary cap issues with LaLiga in August.

However, Fati insisted that no pressure comes with the famous shirt as he expressed his desire to succeed with his boyhood club after coming up through the La Masia academy.

"My dream has always been to succeed here and continue growing here, luckily I will continue to do so," Fati told reporters on Thursday.

"I'm going to work every day to improve as a person and as a player. I have not done anything yet, I must continue working, mark my path.

"I am very grateful to the club for having trusted me, along with the captains. It could have been worn by another player, but I'm grateful.

"I was ready because they are at Barca and at Barca you must be prepared for everything. Wearing the '10' is not a pressure, it is one more motivation, I will do the best I can."

 

An almost year-long injury lay-off could have stunted the youngster's development, but he has managed two goals in five appearances since returning in September.

He has registered 15 goals in 48 games for the LaLiga giants in total, a tally that is bettered only by Luis Suarez (21), Antoine Griezmann (35) and Messi (69) – none of whom are still at the club – since his senior debut.

But Fati explained his ambition to keep improving at Barca, who are preparing for a Clasico showdown against Real Madrid on Sunday.

"I have a lot of room for improvement, especially listening to people who can help you," he continued. "I would like to improve everything, I have not done anything yet, with work.

"Playing a Clasico is a motivation, Madrid is our great rival. I know that the team is going to give everything for the victory.

"I trust the team, it is true that we have to improve as always. We are going to go out and compete and play at home, which is a factor in our favour."

Ansu Fati has agreed a new long-term deal with Barcelona to keep the teenager at Camp Nou until 2027, the club have announced.

The Spain international's previous contract ran until the end of this season, but Barca had the option to extend that by a further two years.

Fati has made a huge impact since making his senior debut in August 2019 and the Catalans have now tied the talented forward down to fresh terms.

As they did with Pedri, Barca have inserted a €1 billion release clause in the 18-year-old's deal. 

 

Fati has broken a number of records since his emergence in 2019, including becoming Barca's youngest ever LaLiga goalscorer at the age of 16 years and 304 days.

Barca's number 10, which he inherited after Lionel Messi's move to Paris Saint-Germain, is also the youngest scorer in Champions League history thanks to his strike against Inter at San Siro a minute after being brought off the bench in December 2019.

The Bissau-born attacker's development was stunted by a near year-long lay-off, but he has scored two times in five appearances since returning to action last month.

Fati has netted 15 goals in 48 games for the LaLiga giants in total, a tally that is bettered only by Luis Suarez (21), Antoine Griezmann (35) and Messi (69) – none of whom are still at the club – since his debut 26 months ago.

He has scored from 11 of his 38 shots in LaLiga since February last year and has a conversion rate of 35.48 when excluding penalties.

That is the best return of any player to have scored more than five goals in the competition over that time, followed by Kevin Gameiro and Jorge Molina (both 33.33).

News of Fati's new contract comes a week on from Pedri penning a five-year extension at Camp Nou.

Ronald Koeman says Ansu Fati still has plenty of room for improvement and does not expect the youngster to achieve the "impossible" by completely filling Lionel Messi's void.

The 18-year-old has committed his long-term future to Barca by agreeing terms on a new contract, which Los Cules announced on Wednesday.

Fati inherited Messi's number 10 shirt following the latter's shock switch to Paris Saint-Germain and is considered Barca's big hope now the club's all-time leading scorer is no longer around.

But he was guilty of missing a great opportunity in Wednesday's Champions League clash with Dynamo Kiev, which Barca only won 1-0 despite controlling the contest.

The Spain international has scored 15 goals in 48 games for Barca in total, a tally that is bettered only by Luis Suarez (21), Antoine Griezmann (35) and Messi (69) – none of whom are still at the club – since his debut 26 months ago.

Still regaining fitness after nearly a year on the sidelines with a knee injury, Koeman does not want supporters to get carried away when it comes to Fati's development.

"Ansu's chance today shows he still lacks things. He needs to improve," Koeman said at his post-match news conference.

"That is entirely normal. He will only turn 19 at the end of the month. He cannot be expected to solve all our problems, or what Leo Messi left behind. It's impossible.

"You have to help each other go step by step. We cannot expect miracles, especially when he has been out injured for a long time and is still only 18."

Barca had 11 shots against Dynamo but only found the target from three of those, with Gerard Pique scoring what proved to be the winner with 36 minutes played.

As well as becoming Barca's oldest Champions League goalscorer at 34 years and 260 days, Pique is now also the joint-leading goalscorer among defenders in the competition's history, level with Roberto Carlos (16 each).

Koeman felt his side should have won by a more comfortable margin against accommodating opponents Kiev, who failed to muster a single attempt on target at Camp Nou.

"I'm happy with the performance, but not because of our effectiveness," he said. "In a game when we were so superior and created opportunities, we should have scored more.

"If they don't have opportunities, you can't ask for more from the attackers, but they did. The normal outcome today would have been 3-0 or 4-0.

"I understand that people leave upset, because I am too. We have achieved the result we wanted, but with the opportunities we have created, we have to score more."

Barcelona's victory was their first in the Champions League in six attempts since December 2020, a run that includes back-to-back 3-0 losses to Bayern Munich and Benfica to begin their 2021-22 campaign.

The LaLiga club are now back in contention for a top-two finish in Group E at the midway point, but full-back Jordi Alba – who set up Pique's winner – accepts his side were made to work harder for the points than they perhaps needed to.

"In the first half we had chances to score more than once," he told Movistar. "In the second half we weren't so good under pressure and we suffered a bit.

"They did not create opportunities but we were still not in a good place. We have to improve on the second-half display."

In a worrying update ahead of Sunday's Clasico clash with Real Madrid, Alba confirmed he sustained an injury during the Kiev match despite playing the full 90 minutes.

"It's my toe. We'll have to wait and see what it is," he said. "But now we look forward to the Clasico. We have won our last two games and the fans have responded to that, helping us grow. 

"We are expecting a tough game against Madrid, but we hope to bring more joy to the fans."

Ansu Fati has agreed a new long-term deal with Barcelona to keep the teenager at Camp Nou until 2027, the club have announced.

Newcastle are making plans for the January transfer window following their Saudi ownership takeover.

The Magpies are currently 19th in the Premier League, with three points from eight games and no wins.

Newcastle have been linked with a host of top players at the start of a new era for the club.

 

TOP STORY – OZIL ON NEWCASTLE'S SHORTLIST

Newcastle have shortlisted former Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil as one of their transfer targets, according to Ekrem Konur.

Ozil is currently playing in Turkey with Fenerbahce after moving from the Gunners in January.

The Magpies have made no official offer yet, but they see Ozil, along with Fenerbahce goalkeeper Altay Bayindir in their plans.

 

ROUND-UP

- Tuttosport reports that Argentina international Paulo Dybala is set to agree to an extension with Juventus , securing his future with the Turin club until 2026.

- Roma have reignited their interest in Aston Villa's Dutch winger Anwar El Ghazi,  according to Football Insider. Villa are ready to let him go in January for £18million (€21m) if Jose Mourinho's side meet their asking price.

- Netherlands international defender Matthijs de Ligt is unhappy with his role at Juventus and his agent has held talks with Barcelona about a potential move, claims Sport.

- Fabrizio Romano claims that Spain international Yeremy Pino, who turned 19 on Wednesdayis set to agree a new five-year deal with Villarreal.

- Mundo Deportivo reports that Ansu Fati is close to renewing with Barcelona, with an in-principle agreement set to tie him down until 2026.

Barcelona are close to tying Ansu Fati down to a new long-term contract, head coach Ronald Koeman has confirmed.

The Catalans are said to have been focused on handing out bumper deals to their most promising talents after losing Lionel Messi in pre-season, with a rebuild well under way.

Media speculation in recent days suggested their hopes of renewing Fati's deal had hit a stumbling block, with his agent Jorge Mendes apparently unwilling for a €1billion release clause to be inserted into his contract.

Such a clause proved no obstacle to securing Pedri's future and quickly the news reports were turned on their heads, with Mundo Deportivo claiming on Tuesday that a deal has been struck with Fati and Mendes "in principle".

Fati has broken a host of records since his emergence as a 16-year-old in 2019, including becoming Barcelona's youngest ever LaLiga goalscorer, and has looked sharp since returning from a serious knee injury.

He has already scored twice in just 94 minutes of LaLiga action this term, with Koeman easing him back.

Wearing Messi's former number 10 jersey, he looks set to lead Barca for at least the next five years.

"It's true that they are close [to an agreement]," Koeman told reporters ahead of Wednesday's Champions League clash with Dynamo Kiev.

"It's very important news. He's a young player with a lot of quality. He's one of those who should shape the future of this club."

Fati's previous deal was technically due to expire next year, though Barca did have the option to unilaterally extend the agreement until 2024, much like the case with Pedri prior to the signing of his new contract.

Pedri signed on until 2026 and Fati is rumoured to be in line for a similarly lengthy extension.

Erling Haaland is the name on everyone's lips.

He has starred for club and country, but Real Sociedad's Swedish forward Aleksandar Isak has also impressed.

Isak could be lured to Barcelona if Haaland is not available.

 

TOP STORY – ISAK WANTED AT CAMP NOU

Barcelona are lining up a move for Real Sociedad forward Alexander Isak if they are unable to sign in-demand Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, according to Diario AS.

Haaland is wanted by Barca and Europe's elite, with the Norwegian linked with Real Madrid, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Liverpool, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

With competition fierce, LaLiga outfit Barca are looking close to home and at Isak as an alternative.

 

ROUND-UP

- Ekrem Konur claims City are considering Barca sensation Ansu Fati as a possible replacement for Raheem Sterling should the England international depart the Premier League champions. Barca are reportedly interested in Sterling on a loan deal.

Dortmund want Ajax's Sebastien Haller to succeed Haaland at the Bundesliga outfit, reports Calciomercato. Former Eintracht Frankfurt forward Haller has starred for the Eredivisie giants.

Juve's objective is to sign Monaco and France star Aurelien Tchouameni, says Calciomercato. Tchouameni is also a target for United, City, Chelsea, Liverpool, PSG and Madrid.

- Gazzetta dello Sport claims Juve, Milan and Tottenham are eyeing PSG's Mauro Icardi.

Ansu Fati has talent that not many others can boast but still has a lot to prove at Barcelona, according to new team-mate Sergio Aguero.

The Spain international marked his first start since last November with a goal in Barca's 3-1 comeback win against Valencia on Sunday.

He missed the best part of a year with a long-term knee injury that had limited him to three substitute appearances before this month's international break.

Fati is regarded as Barca's big hope now that Lionel Messi is no longer around and Aguero, who made his debut against Valencia, hopes to help the youngster showcase his talent.

"Ansu is still a very young player and he has a lot to prove," Aguero told Barca TV. "I'm very happy that we have him here. 

"We have to help him continue showing how talented he is, because not many other players have that."

Fati's goal came from one of three shots against Valencia, two of which were on target – the most of any Barcelona player.

The 18-year-old has scored from 11 of his 38 shots in LaLiga since the start of February 2020 and has a conversion rate of 35.48 when excluding penalties.

That is the best return of any player to have scored more than five goals in the competition over that time, followed by Kevin Gameiro and Jorge Molina (both 33.33).

 

While Fati stole the show against Valencia, the much-needed victory at Camp Nou was also an occasion to remember for fellow striker Aguero.

The Argentina international made his first appearance for the club as a late substitute, 10 and a half years on from his last game in the Spanish top flight for Atletico Madrid.

Having been hampered by a calf injury since arriving on a free transfer from Manchester City in May, Aguero is glad to have finally got some competitive minutes under his belt.

"I'm very happy to have made my debut," he said. "I've been looking forward to this moment for a long time. The most important thing was to win the match.

"It was incredible that the supporters chanted my name, though now I have to get used to that song and show the same affection they show me."

Memphis Depay was also on target for Ronald Koeman's side from the penalty spot after Fati had cancelled out Jose Gaya's early opener, before Phillipe Coutinho added a late third.

The Catalan giants moved up to seventh in LaLiga with the victory, five points behind surprise pacesetters Real Sociedad with a game in hand to play.

Ronald Koeman says Ansu Fati's "quality is undeniable" after his stellar performance in Barcelona's 3-1 LaLiga win over Valencia at Camp Nou on Sunday. 

Fati, whose return from a long-term knee injury had been limited to substitute appearances before the international break, marked his first start since November 7 with a superb equaliser after Jose Gaya had given Los Che an early lead. 

Teenager Fati then won the penalty that saw Memphis Depay put Barca ahead before the break, while Philippe Coutinho added a late third to ease the pressure on Koeman after back-to-back defeats in the Champions League and LaLiga before the international break. 

Fati, who recently inherited Lionel Messi's iconic number 10 shirt, was withdrawn in the 59th minute, with Koeman insisting it is important his reintegration into the first team is not rushed. 

"He has to improve physically little by little, but his quality is undeniable," the Dutchman told Movistar. "Today he has already played an hour and he has more and more competition rhythm. Hopefully he can play many more years at this club.

"We have a plan with him. Today he played from the beginning for the first time. Little by little he will be better and it will be more important; he is a different player from the rest."

Sergio Aguero, who joined on a free transfer in the off-season after leaving Premier League champions Manchester City, was introduced from the substitutes' bench late on for his debut, and Koeman said they will be taking a similarly cautious approach with the Argentina international. 

"It is important for the team to recover the injured attackers," he added. "Ansu and Aguero are different players, with special qualities. Aguero also has experience. I hope he follows a path similar to Ansu's. It is not a question of quality, but of being in good physical condition."

 

Coutinho's late third was his first goal since November 29 last year, and the Brazil international opened up on a difficult period in this career.

"It was a cry of rage [his celebration] because I needed to score to gain confidence," he explained. "No one else knows how much I have suffered. I have the same desire or even more with everything I've been through. It is a scar that makes me stronger. 

"I have more desire to succeed and be the best Coutinho. We know that the situation is not the way we want it, but we are the only ones capable of lifting it. The team is involved and today we have shown it against Valencia. We have given 100 per cent, but if we have to give 150 per cent, we will give it."

Barca host Dynamo Kiev in Champions League Group E on Wednesday before a mouth-watering Clasico against Real Madrid at Camp Nou on Sunday. 

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