Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez has vowed to give young forward Ansu Fati a bigger role in the second half of the season, with the team due to return to La Liga action after the World Cup on New Year’s Eve.
Fati has only made three La Liga starts so far this season and has already made it clear he wants to be playing more at the Camp Nou. The 20-year-old’s father, Bori Fati, has also urged Xavi to give his son more game time.
Xavi has told Barca TV that he plans on using Fati far more from now on and has told the youngster that he needs to become a key player for the Catalan giants, as reported by ESPN.
“Luis Enrique doesn’t give anyone anything for free, so there is a reason he took Ansu to the World Cup,” Xavi said. “I think, from now on, he will be more important for us. It has been a progressive process for him to return from his injury. But I am really happy for him. He works hard and has a great attitude, so in these six months he has to be important for the team.”
Fati could get the chance to feature in the starting XI as soon as La Liga resumes against Espanyol. Barcelona will be without top scorer Robert Lewandowski as the striker has been hit with a three-game ban.
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Xavi Targeting La Liga Title
Xavi also spoke about his targets for the season and is optimistic Barca can win the title. The Catalans restart top of the pile in the Spanish top flight and with their manager explaining why victory in the league is so important.
“LaLiga tops our priorities. We have the [Spanish] Supercopa in January and the Copa del Rey and the Europa League coming up too, but the league marks the season,” he said. “If we win LaLiga, for example, it will be a good season. If we only win the Supercopa, we have come up short. We want to win everything, but LaLiga will give the club and the project stability.”
Barcelona will also hope to taste glory in the Europa League. Xavi’s side have been dumped out of the Champions League and face a tough test in Europe’s second-tier competition against Manchester United.
Yet Xavi knows his team need to win some trophies this season after bringing in players such as Lewandowski, Raphinha, and Jules Kounde in the summer transfer window.
“I would sign for a Liga-Europa League double! The club made a huge effort in the summer, with the famous levers [selling assets to fund signings], and we have to back that up on the pitch,” he said. “The pressure in that sense is on me and I accept it. I am aware that we must win trophies this season.”
Huge Praise For Gavi & Pedri
Xavi also took time to praise midfield duo Pedri and Gavi. The two players are already regulars for club and country despite their tender years and have been compared to Xavi and Andres Iniesta.
The Barcelona boss spoke about the comparisons and insisted his two youngsters are above the level that he had when he was 20 years old.
“When I was 20 and when Andres was 20, we were not at the same level as Pedri and Gavi are right now,” he explained. “They are superior to us at 20, well, Gavi is only 18 still! “They are doing more in first team at 20 and 18 than we were. But there is Eric Garcia as well, Ansu [Fati] … How Gavi competes, the passion he has, for me is a guarantee of success. We were not at their level.”
Barcelona will be hoping the duo can have a similar impact at the club as the two club legends. Iniesta and Xavi won all the major honors available during their illustrious careers which means the two youngsters have a lot to live up to at the Camp Nou.