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Ansu Fati set to represent Spain after gaining citizenship

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Ansu Fati set to represent Spain after gaining citizenship
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Champions League - Group F - Borussia Dortmund v FC Barcelona - Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund, Germany - September 17, 2019 Barcelona's Anssumane Fati during the match REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen   -   Copyright  Thilo Schmuelgen(Reuters)
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MADRID (Reuters) – Barcelona’s teenage forward Ansu Fati is set to represent Spain at international level after being granted Spanish citizenship.

Local media reports said the 16-year-old, who became Barcelona’s youngest-ever Champions League debutant after starting Tuesday’s 0-0 draw at Borussia Dortmund, was eligible to play for Guinea-Bissau, the country of his birth, as well as Portugal.

Yet he has chosen to play for his adopted country Spain, where he moved aged six.

Having completed the required 10 years of residency in order to obtain Spanish citizenship, the 16-year-old’s application was processed by the country’s Interior Ministry ahead of next Wednesday’s Under-17 World Cup squad deadline.

Spain’s senior coach Robert Moreno said last weekend that the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) were working on getting the required paperwork in place.

“It’s not an issue I’m in control of,” Moreno said. “People at the RFEF are working on getting Ansu to play for Spain but it will be the player’s decision. The RFEF are working on having the best players.”

Spain have previously convinced young players possessing dual-nationality to commit their international future to the country. 

Brazil-born Atletico Madrid forward Diego Costa chose to represent Spain after being granted citizenship ahead of the 2014 World Cup.

While playing for Spain at Under-17 level would not prevent Fati from representing another country at senior level, he could be fast-tracked into the senior setup should his meteoric rise at Barca continue. 

(Reporting by Joseph Cassinelli; Editing by Toby Davis)

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