Barcelona have endured more than most clubs over the past couple of seasons and losing Ansu Fati under normal circumstances would have supporters raging.
However, the need for an evolution in Xavi’s squad was evident and, to that end, the business that the Catalans managed to do during the summer was excellent.
Ansu has gone on a season-long loan deal to Brighton and Hove Albion, but the expectation will be that he’ll return to the Blaugranes in 12 months time.
By then, if he’s begun to fulfil his promise, Barca will get back a player that will feel like a new signing, assuming of course that he wants to return to the club and Barca do indeed want him back.
It may well be that the strength in depth that the club now possess in the attacking positions makes Ansu moribund as a further option, but only time will tell.
‘One of the most surprising deals of the summer was Ansu Fati’s move to Brighton. Barcelona wanted a loan deal as they trust Ansu, but now I think it’s important to give value to Brighton,’ Fabrizio Romano wrote in his exclusive CaughtOffside Substack.
‘They did an excellent deal, top job. Roberto De Zerbi was the crucial man: he had one long call with Ansu to explain his plan for him, and this made the difference to pick Brighton over many other clubs. Brighton’s excellent structure plus De Zerbi as a coach convinced Ansu to join.
‘I’d also mention Barcelona’s brilliant window overall – low cost in the market but top names signed. I’m big fan of Cancelo and Joao Felix is a great addition. Gundogan is a fantastic signing too.’
Clearly, Barcelona are in a much stronger position now in terms of the squad that they have than they were at the end of the 2022/23 campaign.
As a result, the pressure will be on Xavi to continue to deliver success. A Spanish top-flight title win notwithstanding last season, Barca were poor in the Champions League.
If the club are truly ‘back,’ then going as deep as possible into European football’s premier competition is a better yardstick for how far they’ve come.