BARCELONA have handed 18-year-old teenage prodigy Ansu Fati the club’s famous No10 shirt which Lionel Messi left behind when he departed this summer.
Messi, 34, left the Catalan giants to join Paris Saint-Germain after the club could not afford to keep the Argentine legend.
Fati showed off his No10 shirt on WednesdayCredit: Instagram @fcbarcelona
Messi wore the iconic shirt from 2008 until he left the club this summerCredit: Reuters
Fati will look to fill Messi’s incredibly huge shoes at the Nou CampCredit: Instagram @fcbarcelona
His exit also meant for the first time in 13 years somebody else was going to have to take over the mantle of wearing the No10 jersey.
And youngster Fati has become that player as he takes on the burden of following Messi’s 672 goals in 778 games.
However, fellow Barcelona legend Ronaldinho – who wore the No10 jersey before Messi took it in 2008 – believes the shirt should have been retired when Leo departed the Nou Camp.
Before Messi’s exit, Ronaldinho hoped the club would make the decision not to let anyone else pull on the jersey ever again.
The Brazilian said: “When Messi retires, which I hope will be in a long time, he can leave the No10 there and nobody will touch it again.”
This quote came at a time when it appeared Messi was going to stay at the club despite the expiration of his contract.
Ronaldinho was the last Barcelona player to wear the No10 shirt before Messi claimed itCredit: AP:Associated Press
But that never materialised as the Spanish side emotionally let him go in order to recoup funds for their ever-growing debt.
And while Ronaldinho’s calls to retire the No10 shirt make sense, LaLiga’s rules mean it is more complicated than that.
The Spanish top flight’s regulations dictate that a team’s players must have squad numbers between 1 and 25.
This means if Barca were to retire the No10 shirt then they would lose out on registering a 25th player, damaging their own depth of squad moving forward.
Ex-Barcelona star Ronald de Boer opposed the idea of retiring the shirt, instead calling for it to be handed to a young star at the club.
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Prior to Fati being given the jersey, De Boer told talkSPORT: “We had it with Johan Cruyff No 14 [at Ajax], of course.
“In another way, no, you have to always dream to be just as good as Messi. I think the No10 must stay alive, not to say okay we’ll put it some place and nobody’s going to touch it.
“I mean, Messi’s Messi. […] If I think about Messi, it’s about his football skills, so not his shirt. Try to give it to a youngster who wants to be just as good as Messi.”