Ansu Fati back in Spain squad for WC

Twenty-year-old forward Ansu Fati returned to Spain's squad following a two-year absence, joining coach Luis Enrique's young team for the World Cup.

Ansu has not played for Spain since making his fourth appearance as a teenager in October 2020 shortly after breaking the record for Spain's youngest scorer.

His spectacular start for Spain and Barcelona was cut short by leg injuries and he has yet to establish himself as a starter with his club.

"I had doubts until the last minute. We know Ansu well because we believed in him before others, but he has been through a difficult process," Luis Enrique said on Friday.

"Our mission is to help him get back to his best version. Is he close? Yes? No? We will see. I believe this will be a huge motivation for him."

Besides Fati, there were no other major surprises when Luis Enrique announced his 26-man squad.

The former midfielder, who will coach his first World Cup after playing in three, will rely on a young bunch in Qatar, including Barcelona midfielders Pedri Gonzalez (19) and Gavi Paez (18). In June, Gavi broke Ansu's record by scoring his first goal for Spain at 17 years, 304 days old.

Luis Enrique guided a similar Spain squad to the semifinals of last year's European Championship. But this team only has one pure striker in Atletico Madrid forward Alvaro Morata.

Sergio Busquets, with 139 appearances at age 34, will again act as team captain from the midfield. Busquets is the sole remaining member of Spain's World Cup-winning team from 2010.

Spain will play its opening match at the World Cup against Costa Rica on November 23. Spain will also face Germany and Japan in Group E.

"We are going to war in Qatar," Luis Enrique said.

Spain:

Goalkeepers: Unai Simon (Athletic Bilbao), Robert Sanchez (Brighton), David Raya (Brentford).

Defenders: Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City), Pau Torres (Villarreal), Jordi Alba (Barcelona), Jose Gaya (Valencia), Hugo Guillamon (Valencia), Eric Garcia (Barcelona), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid)

Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Rodri Hernandez (Manchester City), Pedri Gonzalez (Barcelona), Koke Resurreccion (Atletico Madrid), Gavi Paez (Barcelona), Carlos Soler (Paris Saint-Germain), Marcos Llorente (Atletico Madrid)

Forwards: Pablo Sarabia (Paris Saint-Germain), Nico Williams (Athletic Bilbao), Marco Asensio (Real Madrid), Alvaro Morata (Atletico Madrid), Yeremy Pino (Villarreal), Ferran Torres (Barcelona), Dani Olmo (Leipzig), Ansu Fati (Barcelona)