Ernesto Valverde heaped praise on Ansu Fati but vowed to protect Barcelona’s newest sensation after his starring role in the 5-2 defeat of Valencia on Saturday night.
The 16-year-old was handed a starting spot in the continued absence of both Lionel Messi and Ousmane Dembele, and with Luis Suarez only on the bench for the La Liga clash.
And the teenager left Camp Nou purring with his latest display, scoring one and creating another for Frenkie de Jong as Barca made a blistering start with two goals in the opening 10 minutes.
Gerard Pique also found the net before Suarez stepped from the bench to bag a second half double as the champions handed Albert Celades a loss on his first outing as Los Che chief.
But it was Fati – who has now scored in successive La Liga matches – who was the talk of Catalunya after the game, leaving Valverde to hail the youngster his latest outing.
“It is not easy for anyone to play for Barca, even less so for someone as young as Ansu Fati,” Valverde declared.
“It is not normal for him to score on the first ball, assist in the second.
“Everything will be normalised, we are interested in him getting to know himself, that he realizes that this is very complicated.
“Wherever you are, the player who earns his place is the one that plays, there is no secret, the coaches want players to come out; if they are young and have energy you use them.
“Ansu has qualities that suit us, we will see the potential he has.”
Already the inevitable comparisons to Messi have begun, but Valverde insists the focus must be on Ansu’s improvement, and his own game, as he vows to protect the young forward.
“I do not care if Ansu Fati’s start has been compared with Messi’s,” he added.
“We know that the balloon will start rising now but we will deflate it, it is up to us to protect the player.”