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How can Barcelona cope without ‘exceptional’ Ansu Fati?

On a sincere note, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that the continuous rise of Ansu Fati has been the most beautiful thing we  have witnessed in Barcelona‘s camp so far this season.

The Young forward made his debut appearance with the first team earlier this year and he grabbed the opportunity with both hands with a spectacular performance against Real Betis. He finished the 2019/2020 campaign with eight goals and an assist in 24 games as well as becoming the youngest player ever to score for Barcelona, the Spanish national team and in the UEFA Champions League.

This season, Fati managed to keep his career moving on the upward trajectory. He became a constant member of Ronald Koeman’s starting lineup, deployed on the left flank from where he cuts inside to wreak havoc on opposition defences.

With five goals and four assists to his name from 10 appearances across all competitions this season, Fati has clearly been one of the top performers in the Blaugrana camp. The fact that one of his goals and three of his assists came in the Champions League highlights that he is really a man for the big occasions. But…

Ronald Koeman and Barca were dealt a huge blow when the attacker suffered a serious injury while representing the club in their 5-2 victory over Real Betis the last time out. Tests revealed after the game that he suffered an internal meniscus injury to his left knee and such setbacks usually require lengthy days on the sidelines.

As expected, Fati was required to undergo surgery to begin his journey towards recovery. Following a successful operation, Barca revealed an official statement on their website and across social media that the player will be out of action for an approximated period of four months.

The statement read: “The first team player Ansu Fati has been operated on successfully by Dr. Ramon Cugat for the injury to the internal meniscus of his left knee under the supervision of the Club’s medical staff. The player will be out for approximately four months. ”

With that knowledge in mind, focus has quickly shifted to how Barca will cope in the absense of their prodigious talent. With limited options in attack, this places Ronald Koeman in a difficult situation.

As it stands, Ousmane Dembele is the only established winger in the squad at the moment but his injury record means that he cannot be rushed and he must be treated with a lot of caution. The Frennchman can easily replace to Fati on the left wing, thanks to his ability to impress on either flank.

Dembele has been a huge sensation so far this season with three goals and two assists to his name from eight matches across all competitions. His rocket effort against Betis in the last game reminds us of what he can become in the Blaugrana jersey.

The second option is Francisco Trincao but that also appears to be a bit fragile as the Portuguese is still adapting to Barca’s system following his move to Catalonia in the summer. Outside these two, Koeman would need to prove his tactical nous with some uncommon arrangements.

Lionel Messi could be reverted to his former role on the left flank while Antoine Griezmann or Martin Braithwaite replaces him at centre-forward.

Griezmann could also take up the slot on the left wing of the attack like he did last season. Philippe Coutinho and Sergino Dest are good options too to try their fates in that position.

Thinking outside the box, Pedri wouldn’t be a bad option in that role. He impressed there during Barca’s recent clash with Juventus and totally outplayed Juan Cuadrado in the Champions League encounter. Koeman should prove that he’s got the balls once again by fielding the talented Spaniard as a winger – especially given how successful the first experiment turned out to be.

It could also be the time to give an opportunity to talented youngster, Konrad de La Fuente. The attacker is one of the most talented youngsters in football at the moment. He should be given the chance to prove what he can bring to the table.

The final option could be to try out a new formation. The 4-4-2 setup can help to eliminate wingers and solve this headache with ease if the team can utilize it perfectly and deliver good results. The ball remains in Koeman’s court and he’ll surely not be left without options.

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