West Ham held talks with Barcelona starlet Ansu Fati’s family over a potential summer move to England, reports in Spain claim.
The 16-year-old became Barcelona’s youngest ever goalscorer by netting in a 2-2 draw with Osasuna last month.
And in his first start for the club last Saturday, Fati scored and assisted a goal in Barca’s 5-2 defeat of Valencia.
It has been a meteoric rise for the youngster, who signed a three-year deal, with the option to extend for a further 24 months, with Barcelona in July.
Nou Camp chiefs clearly value their player, as they inserted a £88.7million (€100million) release clause into the contract.
And Fati is reportedly already in line to be rewarded with a new and improved deal to match his status as one of Barcelona’s first-team players.
Who is Ansu Fati: Barca’s next Messi or will he end up following Bojan?
But it could have all been so different had Fati departed Camp Nou earlier this year.
Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo claim West Ham attempted to sign Fati during the summer transfer window, with club officials even speaking to his family.
Real Madrid, Nice and Sevilla were also believed to be interested in the teenager’s services, and the report claims the clubs were close to an agreement with Fati before Barca managed to sign him up.
Barcelona’s failure to re-sign Neymar, plus injuries to Lionel Messi and Ousmane Dembele, has presented Fati with first-team chances this season.
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And he has certainly impressed in his three appearances so far.
Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde heaped praise on the youngster for his early-season form.
He said: “It is not easy for anyone to play for Barca, even less so for someone as young as Ansu Fati.
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“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.”