ANSSUMANE FATI has already been touted as the heir to Lionel Messi’s throne, and the 16-year-old has now been tipped as the player who could wreck Neymar’s hopes of a move back to Barcelona.
That is the view of Brazil legend Rivaldo, who has watched the La Masia product explode onto the scene with his former club this season.
Fati, who became the youngest Barca player to play for the club since 1941 last month, has already scored twice in his first four games for the Catalans.
The Spanish champions have a £88.6million release clause in his contract to protect their new asset and Rivaldo has now given his verdict on the teenage forward.
Speaking to Betfair, he said: “I understand fans’ enthusiasm about the young Ansu Fati but it is far too early to start comparing him to Lionel Messi and wondering if he may be his future replacement.
“No one doubts Fati’s big talent, but it’s premature to put so much responsibility on his shoulders when he is still a kid.
“Let’s give him time and space to play his normal football, and the future will tell if he is about to become the ‘new Messi’ or not.
If Barcelona manage to pay well, with Fati being an important part of the success, they have no reasons to sign a new player
“There are other rumours mentioning that Fati’s breakthrough will lead Barcelona to give up on signing Neymar. Honestly, I think it would depend on teams’ results until the next transfer window.
“If Barcelona manage to pay well, with Fati being an important part of the success, they have no reasons to sign a new player.
“But if things are not going so well it can be different, and in that case Neymar could become a target again.”
Rivaldo had begged Barcelona to facilitate a sensational return for Neymar in August, but the Nou Camp outfit failed to agree a deal with Paris Saint-Germain.
It had been reported that Ernesto Valverde’s side had been confident at agreeing a deal to sign the Brazilian before negotiations broke down.
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A deal in the region of £236million had been mooted, with Barca willing to offer the Ligue 1 giants Ivan Rakitic and Ousmane Dembele.
While Fati has been tipped to succeed club icon Messi, the Argentine himself claimed that he would have “loved” to have seen Neymar back in Spain.
Barca have already ruled out a January swoop for Neymar, club president Josep Maria Bartomeu confirmed.