Legendary striker Samuel Eto'o believes that FC Barcelona's teenage sensation, Ansu Fati, has what it takes to take over from Lionel Messi when the Argentine superstar retires or leaves the club.
Eto'o enjoyed a lengthy career with a largely successful chunk of it spent at the Camp Nou from 2004-2009. He knows the workings of the club very well, and believes that the La Masia graduate is a suitable heir for Messi.
The Barcelona captain asked for a transfer away from the club last summer, but it was thwarted by the €700 million release clause on his contract. He was basically forced to tuck his tail between his legs and play out the remaining year of his contract. There have been no reports of a contract extension so far.
As such, FC Barcelona may very well be preparing for life after Messi.
"I think he [Ansu Fati] is the one for the future," Eto'o said, as quoted by Marca. "He's currently doing amazing stuff so I think the club really needs to groom him and take very good care of him. Let's hope he's the one to take over from Messi," he concluded.
Eto'o does have a good reason to support Fati. The teenager has had a stellar start to his season. In the 2020-21 season so far, the teenage striker played 10 games. He has appeared in a total 596 minutes over 7 games in La Liga and 3 in the UEFA Champions League. He scored five goals and provided two assists in those appearances.
Fati outshone Messi in the opening games of the season, but he unfortunately suffered an injury while playing against Real Betis back in November. He was diagnosed with a tear to the internal meniscus of the left knee and has been ruled out for at least four months. As per Barcelona's latest update, Fati is on the mend and the club is happy with the progression of his recovery.
In a statement, Barca said, "First team player Ansu Fati has undergone a regenerative biological treatment by Dr. Ramon Cugat under the supervision of the club's medical services, with the evolution of his injury following a very satisfactory course."
In his absence, Messi has found his footing after suffering an early slump. The six-time Ballon d'Or winner admitted that all the drama off the pitch over the summer affected his performance. He has since led Barcelona back up to third in the La Liga table.