Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has reiterated he has no regrets over promoting teenager Ansu Fati to the club’s first-team squad.
Ansu celebrated his 17th birthday this week and his playing time for the side has reduced dramatically with the return to fitness of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele.
The player – born in Guinea Bissau, who now has Spanish nationality and also qualifies to represent Portugal – scored and assisted on his first start for the Blaugrana in their 5-2 win over Valencia in September and his level of performance has generated a great level of excitement.
However, there are now concerns over his growth as a footballer with limited game-time and if he should return to playing for the club’s B side.
“I do not regret that choice at all because at that time we needed extra cover in attack,” Valverde told his pre-match news conference on Friday, when asked about Fati, as cited by Marca.
“He is very young and has a lot of time ahead. He has a lot of room to grow. In principle, he's in the first-team setup, knowing that he could play some games with the B team, but the decision was the right one.
“He is a player who has not yet made himself a first-team regular because he has to learn how to manage the rhythm of the games, his body, to grow and become strong. He has a path in front of him.
“He has caused a lot of excitement but we need to manage him correctly.”
Valverde was also asked about dropping Antoine Griezmann in recent wins over Sevilla and Real Valladolid: “He has been playing regularly.
“He only has not played in a couple of games because we must rotate and we do not talk about players being undisputed starters or not.
“He will play as he has done if he continues to fulfil and match the expectations.”