Brighton Break With Tradition To Sign Barcelona's Ansu Fati, But It's Worth It

The Seagulls have landed another high potential talent, but they won't benefit long-term
13:00, 31 Aug 2023

Barcelona starlet Ansu Fati has agreed a deal to join Brighton & Hove Albion on a season-long loan. The 20-year-old La Masia graduate has long laboured under the weight of expectation at Camp Nou. Now Fati will have a chance to spread his wings at a Premier League club known to be experts in developing young talent.

However, the transfer does go against the usual Brighton modus operandi. At the Amex, young and promising talents are honed to be sold on for bumper fees down the road. Earlier this summer, Moises Caicedo left to join Chelsea for a British record £115 million. The fact Brighton paid Belgian side Beerschot less than £4 million for his services two years ago sums up their approach.


But any improvements in Fati’s game over the next year will only benefit Brighton in the short-term. While usually they earn a King’s ransom for their polished diamonds, there is no buy option for the Seagulls to sign the player permanently. In a huge departure to the way Brighton usually do business, they are essentially developing Barcelona’s player for them.

Of course, this isn’t a transfer that wholly favours Barca. Brighton are getting a player rich with natural talent. Fati is hungry to impress, having lost his place in Xavi’s side in part due to a number of injuries. If Roberto De Zerbi can keep the 20-year-old fit, he could find himself blessed with a player of elite level ability. 

There is a reason Brighton have broken from tradition after all.  Fati has long been tipped as one of world football’s emerging stars. The chance to sign him, even just for a season, was simply too good to turn down. With the hugely influential Caicedo leaving, bringing in a big name who also fits De Zerbi’s tactical remit is wise business this late in the window. 

It is short-termist but Brighton are facing new challenges this term. The Seagulls are in the Europa League, the first taste of European football in the club’s history. That necessitates some signings that fall outside the usual buy cheap-sell high remit. James Milner was signed as a free agent when his Liverpool deal expired. The 37-year-old obviously wasn’t employed with a Caicedo-type windfall in mind. While at the other end of the spectrum in terms of experience, Fati is another signing for the here and now.

SM News Ansu Fati Messijpg

Brighton have made some signings within their usual parameters. Joao Pedro from Watford is 21 years of age and could leave in the future for far more than the club record £30 million fee paid for him. Caicedo replacement Carlos Baleba is just 19 and joins from talent factory Lille in Ligue 1. He cost £25 million but if he comes close to his predecessor’s growth, will eventually leave for far more.

What Brighton have done is seize upon an opportunity. As with many Barcelona departures these days, Fati was moved on to free up room in the wage bill for more signings. With the forward not currently in Xavi’s plans, it made sense to sign off on a temporary move while they seek out targets like Atletico Madrid wantaway Joao Felix. If Fati storms the Premier League, Barca get back a player whose value will have gone through the roof. They can either sell him for a massive profit or integrate an in-form young player into their team. 

Brighton will have to say goodbye to Fati next summer. They can only hope he has led them to success during this season. It’s not how Brighton usually do things but it’s a chance worth taking. De Zerbi was reportedly a big pull for Fati and understandably so. This might be a brief fling but if Brighton secure European football again this season, it’ll be one both parties look back on fondly.

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