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Ansu Fati vs Joao Felix – Who should Barcelona stay with?

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Hansi Flick’s appointment as Barcelona head coach comes at an opportune time, as he will be overseeing a pivotal moment of the year: the summer transfer window.

The German tactician has not yet managed an official match, but he will have the freedom to experiment with the squad’s personnel and collaborate closely with the board members.

And one of the major dilemmas for Barcelona heading into next season is the future of Joao Felix and Ansu Fati.

Both players bring a unique set of skills, each contributing different strengths to the team even as the Catalans look for options to reinforce their attack down the left flank.

Analyzing their recent performances and profiles, this article aims to provide a thorough evaluation of who should earn the club’s trust next season.

Dissecting Joao Felix

Despite a season filled with inconsistencies, Joao Felix, on loan at Barcelona, has proven numerous times that there is no questioning his talent.

With 15 goals and assists this season, his output has been fairly decent, especially as the Portuguese has not been a regular in the starting XI.

Moreover, Felix’s ability to step up when the team needed him, as demonstrated in crucial games against Atletico Madrid and Porto, provides the management with plenty of reasons to believe in his utility and value to the team moving forward.

However, the major concern with Felix is that he is not as adept at interpreting space as some of his teammates, which could be a hindrance under Hansi Flick.

Joao Felix was not consistent enough last season. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO/AFP via Getty Images)

After all, the German coach, similar to Xavi, emphasizes creating space and attacking it the moment an opportunity arises, which goes against Felix’s natural inclination to gravitate toward the ball.

Ferran Torres’ ability to exploit space was one of the primary reasons Xavi leaned toward him more than Felix toward the end of the season.

Moreover, Flick is renowned for practising an exceptionally high press with an emphasis on quickly winning the ball back. In that respect, Felix falls behind quite a bit.

For example, in the Champions League, there were many instances of Felix not applying enough pressure on the opposition defenders or simply mistiming his movements.

While the Portuguese tends to compensate for these flaws with his creativity and ability to fashion scoring chances, Flick’s vertical style of play emphasizes the need for players who are mature out of possession.

Dissecting Ansu Fati

Comparing Fati’s last season with Felix’s is futile because Felix emerges as the clear winner due to his superior numbers and availability.

But delving deeper into their respective profiles and considering that Fati was playing in a foreign league for the first time and suffered from an injury allows for a fairer picture to be painted.

Ansu struggled on loan at Brighton. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

There is no denying that Fati’s loan spell at Brighton has been an outright failure. Yet, it could be argued that adjusting to a new environment and suffering an injury midway through the season contributed to his struggles.

And even though there is no assurance that Fati will regain his best levels under Flick, his nature as a secondary striker and elite understanding of blitzing into space would be a game-changer.

Fati, in his previous season with Barcelona, was relied upon minimally but still emerged as the team’s second-top scorer.

The La Masia graduate’s ability to run in behind defences, make runs off the defenders’ shoulders, and detect spaces in an instant allows him to get into scoring positions consistently.

For a coach who relishes playing quick long balls to release forwards and exercises verticality, Fati fits the bill.

Why betting on Fati makes more sense

In an ideal world, Barcelona would get the best of both worlds by retaining Joao Felix and Ansu Fati, but due to their financial circumstances, sacrifices may have to be made.

Felix was initially signed to play in Xavi’s box midfield set-up, as his poise under pressure and creativity appealed to the club.

But under Flick, Barcelona are likely to have a more attack-minded left-winger, someone who gets in behind defences and tests the goalkeeper more often.

As such, there is reason to believe the former Bayern Munich manager could unearth Fati’s best version by playing to his strengths. With more faith and perhaps a coach who can polish his profile even further, the youngster could very well be back to his best levels.

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