Ansu Fati will be keen to hit the ground running for new club Brighton after joining on loan from Barcelona.
The 20-year-old, who joined the Premier League side on deadline day, is primed to make his debut for the Seagulls this weekend.
Fati’s late arrival at the Amex meant he watched from the stands as Roberto De Zerbi’s men hammered Newcastle 3-1 before the break.
But the forward was left out of the Spain squad and has used the last week to get acclimatised to his new surroundings in England.
Fati is now expected to make his Brighton debut against Manchester United sporting the number 31 – here’s why…
Why does Ansu Fati wear No.31?
Fati has opted to take the number 31 shirt at Brighton, which was the same squad number he was given when he broke into Barcelona’s first team.
The Spaniard famously struggled under the weight of Lionel Messi’s No 10 shirt at Barca which he inherited when the Argentine left for Paris Saint-Germain in 2020.
But he was spared the dilemma of whether he wanted to continue with the 10 at Brighton, with Julio Ensciso taking it this summer.
Fati’s only other shirt number at Barcelona was the No 22, which he wore for one season in 2020/21 before taking Messi’s shirt.
However, that belongs to Kaoru Mitoma at Brighton, who may face increased competition for his role in the side after Fati’s switch.
Either way, the No 31 holds a special significance to Fati, with it being the first shirt he took after his rise to Barcelona’s senior ranks.
Former Manchester United goalkeeper Victor Valdes, who mentored Fati in Barca’s youth ranks, revealed that making your first team debut with a low squad number has a special significance in Catalonia.
He told Spanish outlet AS in 2019: “I couldn’t be happier for him. And I’ve already told him – I called him this morning. That phone call was a real thrill for me to make as his coach.
“If I had to describe what making his debut meant to him, the shirt number he wore to make his debut says everything you need to know.
“The No.31 – for those of us who have come right the way up through the club, to make your debut at Camp Nou, aged 16, wearing the No.31 shirt… right away that says you are an elite player.
“It doesn’t happen that way for your average player… with that squad number.
“There are many lower squad numbers below that, players who have come right the way up through the ranks.”
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