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Insight

Rising Star: Lamine Yamal

The sky’s the limit for Lamine Yamal, who has been smashing records for club and country since he was 15

WORDS Simon Hart

Club: FC Barcelona
Nationality: Spanish
Position: Winger
Age: Absurdly young

Why absurd?

Well, how many 16-year-olds do you know who are playing for the champions of their country and their national team? 

You mean Barcelona and Spain?

Precisely. In fact, he was over two months shy of his 16th birthday, just 15 years and 290 days old, when he came off the bench to make his Barcelona debut against Real Betis in April.

Hang on. Messi was 17 when he made his competitive Barça debut. So was Gavi. Is that a record then?

Yes, he is Barcelona’s youngest player and when he made his debut in the Champions League against Antwerp in September, he became the second-youngest player to appear in that competition – aged 16 years and 68 days. Only Borussia Dortmund’s Youssoufa Moukoko, who made his bow aged 16 years and 18 days back in 2020, was younger. 

Where has he come from?

He’s a local lad. His mother is from Equatorial Guinea and his father Morocco, but he’s Catalan born and bred. Barcelona signed him when he was seven and Xavi, seeing his potential, has had him training with the first team since September 2022. 

What did Xavi see in him?

“He has got personality, natural talent, the final pass, he’s strong.” These are just some of the qualities the Barcelona coach cited when discussing the teenage attacker whose agility and dribbling skills mean he presents a serious one-v-one threat to defenders. Check out his goal for Spain against Cyprus in November to see how he wrongfooted the goalkeeper in feigning to shoot – and then left a defender on the floor before scoring. 

Club: FC Barcelona
Nationality: Spanish
Position: Winger
Age: Absurdly young

Why absurd?

Well, how many 16-year-olds do you know who are playing for the champions of their country and their national team? 

You mean Barcelona and Spain?

Precisely. In fact, he was over two months shy of his 16th birthday, just 15 years and 290 days old, when he came off the bench to make his Barcelona debut against Real Betis in April.

Hang on. Messi was 17 when he made his competitive Barça debut. So was Gavi. Is that a record then?

Yes, he is Barcelona’s youngest player and when he made his debut in the Champions League against Antwerp in September, he became the second-youngest player to appear in that competition – aged 16 years and 68 days. Only Borussia Dortmund’s Youssoufa Moukoko, who made his bow aged 16 years and 18 days back in 2020, was younger. 

Where has he come from?

He’s a local lad. His mother is from Equatorial Guinea and his father Morocco, but he’s Catalan born and bred. Barcelona signed him when he was seven and Xavi, seeing his potential, has had him training with the first team since September 2022. 

What did Xavi see in him?

“He has got personality, natural talent, the final pass, he’s strong.” These are just some of the qualities the Barcelona coach cited when discussing the teenage attacker whose agility and dribbling skills mean he presents a serious one-v-one threat to defenders. Check out his goal for Spain against Cyprus in November to see how he wrongfooted the goalkeeper in feigning to shoot – and then left a defender on the floor before scoring. 

Read the full story
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What kind of character is he?

Fearless is one word. Xavi says Yamal is typical of a younger generation who “try everything and fear nothing”. A prime example came on his first 90-minute appearance in the Champions League against Shakhtar on 25 October when he attempted nine take-ons – placing him joint-fifth in the entire competition that week and underlining his impudence on the field. Off it, he has impressed his Spain captain Álvaro Morata with his attitude in the national-team camp: “He’s 16 but seems like 27 or 28… He’s less shy than he appears. He fits in with the group in an easy way and makes jokes. He gets involved.”

How about the lad himself? What does he have to say?

“As soon as I got the first ball, I lost all the nerves I had,” Yamal revealed after his La Liga debut in April. He has continued to take things in his stride. After becoming the Spanish top flight’s youngest scorer with a goal against Granada in October, he said: “Being so young, everything I do is a record almost.”

Which other records has he set?

Well, he’s Spain’s youngest player and goalscorer too. He made a scoring debut in a 7-1 victory over Georgia on 8 September aged 16 years and 57 days. He followed up with that aforementioned strike against Cyprus in November.

Sounds like he’s going to be a pretty fearsome striker

Actually, not quite. He’s a winger who can play on either flank but prefers to start on the right and come inside on his left foot. 

Shades of Messi?

Don’t say that to Xavi. When the comparison was made to the Barcelona coach recently, he said the following: “We don’t do him any favours saying that. It’s true that expectations are huge. The lad, at 16, is playing at a terrific level, and this is very positive. But let’s see about the future. To compare him with Messi... Things haven’t turned out so well for all those players who’ve previously been compared with Messi.”

So expectations are being tempered then?

Hmmm, not exactly. After that Spain win against Cyprus, he featured on the cover of Sport with the two-word headline “Estrella Lamine” – Star Lamine.

Club: FC Barcelona
Nationality: Spanish
Position: Winger
Age: Absurdly young

Why absurd?

Well, how many 16-year-olds do you know who are playing for the champions of their country and their national team? 

You mean Barcelona and Spain?

Precisely. In fact, he was over two months shy of his 16th birthday, just 15 years and 290 days old, when he came off the bench to make his Barcelona debut against Real Betis in April.

Hang on. Messi was 17 when he made his competitive Barça debut. So was Gavi. Is that a record then?

Yes, he is Barcelona’s youngest player and when he made his debut in the Champions League against Antwerp in September, he became the second-youngest player to appear in that competition – aged 16 years and 68 days. Only Borussia Dortmund’s Youssoufa Moukoko, who made his bow aged 16 years and 18 days back in 2020, was younger. 

Where has he come from?

He’s a local lad. His mother is from Equatorial Guinea and his father Morocco, but he’s Catalan born and bred. Barcelona signed him when he was seven and Xavi, seeing his potential, has had him training with the first team since September 2022. 

What did Xavi see in him?

“He has got personality, natural talent, the final pass, he’s strong.” These are just some of the qualities the Barcelona coach cited when discussing the teenage attacker whose agility and dribbling skills mean he presents a serious one-v-one threat to defenders. Check out his goal for Spain against Cyprus in November to see how he wrongfooted the goalkeeper in feigning to shoot – and then left a defender on the floor before scoring. 

Rising Star: Lamine Yamal
Insight

Rising Star: Lamine Yamal

The sky’s the limit for Lamine Yamal, who has been smashing records for club and country since he was 15

WORDS Simon Hart

Club: FC Barcelona
Nationality: Spanish
Position: Winger
Age: Absurdly young

Why absurd?

Well, how many 16-year-olds do you know who are playing for the champions of their country and their national team? 

You mean Barcelona and Spain?

Precisely. In fact, he was over two months shy of his 16th birthday, just 15 years and 290 days old, when he came off the bench to make his Barcelona debut against Real Betis in April.

Hang on. Messi was 17 when he made his competitive Barça debut. So was Gavi. Is that a record then?

Yes, he is Barcelona’s youngest player and when he made his debut in the Champions League against Antwerp in September, he became the second-youngest player to appear in that competition – aged 16 years and 68 days. Only Borussia Dortmund’s Youssoufa Moukoko, who made his bow aged 16 years and 18 days back in 2020, was younger. 

Where has he come from?

He’s a local lad. His mother is from Equatorial Guinea and his father Morocco, but he’s Catalan born and bred. Barcelona signed him when he was seven and Xavi, seeing his potential, has had him training with the first team since September 2022. 

What did Xavi see in him?

“He has got personality, natural talent, the final pass, he’s strong.” These are just some of the qualities the Barcelona coach cited when discussing the teenage attacker whose agility and dribbling skills mean he presents a serious one-v-one threat to defenders. Check out his goal for Spain against Cyprus in November to see how he wrongfooted the goalkeeper in feigning to shoot – and then left a defender on the floor before scoring. 

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

Club: FC Barcelona
Nationality: Spanish
Position: Winger
Age: Absurdly young

Why absurd?

Well, how many 16-year-olds do you know who are playing for the champions of their country and their national team? 

You mean Barcelona and Spain?

Precisely. In fact, he was over two months shy of his 16th birthday, just 15 years and 290 days old, when he came off the bench to make his Barcelona debut against Real Betis in April.

Hang on. Messi was 17 when he made his competitive Barça debut. So was Gavi. Is that a record then?

Yes, he is Barcelona’s youngest player and when he made his debut in the Champions League against Antwerp in September, he became the second-youngest player to appear in that competition – aged 16 years and 68 days. Only Borussia Dortmund’s Youssoufa Moukoko, who made his bow aged 16 years and 18 days back in 2020, was younger. 

Where has he come from?

He’s a local lad. His mother is from Equatorial Guinea and his father Morocco, but he’s Catalan born and bred. Barcelona signed him when he was seven and Xavi, seeing his potential, has had him training with the first team since September 2022. 

What did Xavi see in him?

“He has got personality, natural talent, the final pass, he’s strong.” These are just some of the qualities the Barcelona coach cited when discussing the teenage attacker whose agility and dribbling skills mean he presents a serious one-v-one threat to defenders. Check out his goal for Spain against Cyprus in November to see how he wrongfooted the goalkeeper in feigning to shoot – and then left a defender on the floor before scoring. 

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

What kind of character is he?

Fearless is one word. Xavi says Yamal is typical of a younger generation who “try everything and fear nothing”. A prime example came on his first 90-minute appearance in the Champions League against Shakhtar on 25 October when he attempted nine take-ons – placing him joint-fifth in the entire competition that week and underlining his impudence on the field. Off it, he has impressed his Spain captain Álvaro Morata with his attitude in the national-team camp: “He’s 16 but seems like 27 or 28… He’s less shy than he appears. He fits in with the group in an easy way and makes jokes. He gets involved.”

How about the lad himself? What does he have to say?

“As soon as I got the first ball, I lost all the nerves I had,” Yamal revealed after his La Liga debut in April. He has continued to take things in his stride. After becoming the Spanish top flight’s youngest scorer with a goal against Granada in October, he said: “Being so young, everything I do is a record almost.”

Which other records has he set?

Well, he’s Spain’s youngest player and goalscorer too. He made a scoring debut in a 7-1 victory over Georgia on 8 September aged 16 years and 57 days. He followed up with that aforementioned strike against Cyprus in November.

Sounds like he’s going to be a pretty fearsome striker

Actually, not quite. He’s a winger who can play on either flank but prefers to start on the right and come inside on his left foot. 

Shades of Messi?

Don’t say that to Xavi. When the comparison was made to the Barcelona coach recently, he said the following: “We don’t do him any favours saying that. It’s true that expectations are huge. The lad, at 16, is playing at a terrific level, and this is very positive. But let’s see about the future. To compare him with Messi... Things haven’t turned out so well for all those players who’ve previously been compared with Messi.”

So expectations are being tempered then?

Hmmm, not exactly. After that Spain win against Cyprus, he featured on the cover of Sport with the two-word headline “Estrella Lamine” – Star Lamine.

Club: FC Barcelona
Nationality: Spanish
Position: Winger
Age: Absurdly young

Why absurd?

Well, how many 16-year-olds do you know who are playing for the champions of their country and their national team? 

You mean Barcelona and Spain?

Precisely. In fact, he was over two months shy of his 16th birthday, just 15 years and 290 days old, when he came off the bench to make his Barcelona debut against Real Betis in April.

Hang on. Messi was 17 when he made his competitive Barça debut. So was Gavi. Is that a record then?

Yes, he is Barcelona’s youngest player and when he made his debut in the Champions League against Antwerp in September, he became the second-youngest player to appear in that competition – aged 16 years and 68 days. Only Borussia Dortmund’s Youssoufa Moukoko, who made his bow aged 16 years and 18 days back in 2020, was younger. 

Where has he come from?

He’s a local lad. His mother is from Equatorial Guinea and his father Morocco, but he’s Catalan born and bred. Barcelona signed him when he was seven and Xavi, seeing his potential, has had him training with the first team since September 2022. 

What did Xavi see in him?

“He has got personality, natural talent, the final pass, he’s strong.” These are just some of the qualities the Barcelona coach cited when discussing the teenage attacker whose agility and dribbling skills mean he presents a serious one-v-one threat to defenders. Check out his goal for Spain against Cyprus in November to see how he wrongfooted the goalkeeper in feigning to shoot – and then left a defender on the floor before scoring. 

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

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