EPL

My duty to help Barcelona loanee Ansu Fati realise potential – Roberto De Zerbi

By Sports Desk September 01, 2023

Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi feels an overwhelming duty to help Barcelona loanee Ansu Fati realise his potential of becoming a “great” player.

Spain international Fati has joined Albion on a deal until the end of the season, having been linked with Premier League rivals Tottenham.

De Zerbi, who recently lost Julio Enciso to a long-term knee issue, says he “can’t make mistakes” as he bids to develop the exciting 20-year-old forward during his temporary stay at the Amex Stadium.

“I’m very pleased, it’s a big player,” the Italian coach said of Fati. “We lost Enciso and we needed one big player.

“We are lucky because we have a lot of young players, potential top players and it will be one responsibility more.

“If you work with this talent, you have much responsibility because it’s our football heritage and we can’t make mistakes with these players because football needs this talent and you have to manage it in different ways.

“I’ve always thought like this. Especially for the big, big talent, I feel the responsibility to help this talent to become great players.

“Sometimes the coaches think only of the result, only of their career but football needs to have great players. It’s a big responsibility and I feel it.

“I think our style is very close with his characteristics, with his qualities.”

Fati, who has nine Spain caps and travelled to last year’s World Cup in Qatar, will not be involved when Brighton host Newcastle in the top flight on Saturday evening.

His arrival came on a landmark day for Albion after they were drawn to face European giants Ajax and Marseille in the group stage of their maiden Europa League campaign.

Greek champions AEK Athens complete Group B, with the first round of fixtures scheduled for Thursday, September 21.

“Ajax, Marseille and AEK are all good teams but we are a good team too,” said De Zerbi.

“It will be a very tough group but we have the enthusiasm of the first time Brighton play in the Europa League and you can imagine what will be our attitude, behaviour and passion to make points and to qualify for the next step.

“You can (only) be proud for two or three minutes – not too much – and then you have to think, Newcastle first of all because tomorrow we don’t play in the Europa League, we play in the Premier League.”

Forward Danny Welbeck will miss out against the Magpies due to a muscular injury.

Cameroonian midfielder Carlos Baleba – bought from French side Lille on Tuesday for a reported £23million – will join Fati in having to wait until after the upcoming international break for a debut.

In a positive week for the Seagulls, Pascal Gross received his first call-up from Germany, while captain Lewis Dunk was included in England’s squad.

“Both were incredible news for us,” said De Zerbi. “We are a small club, we are not used to this news and for us it’s like winning a trophy.

“They deserve it, I think and I am working to help my players to reach this target.”

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