This week classes begin for students, and in my case, my last year at university. I am 21 years old and they keep telling me that I am in the prime of my life, but a 16 year old boy appears who is already a decisive player for Barcelona and who has scored his debut goal for the Spanish national team. I’m getting old, Lamine Yamal has brought forward my retirement by 45 years.
This isn’t just any youngster. Those who want to underestimate his talent comment that all the players who come out of La Masia “would be the best in the world” as a form of mockery, but they aren’t aware of the talent of the Mataró-born player.
Lamine Yamal has been the greatest jewel of the culé youth academy since he entered, and from the age of 12, he was already being talked about as the greatest talent since Messi. Neither Bojan, Ansu Fati or Gavi (three of the biggest products of the youth system) had the hype of Yamal, and with less than five games under his belt, he has alteado shown why.
He is a different kind of winger, not the kind of attacker you associate with a teenager. If you were outside the Barcelona youth system and you see a 16 year old (just turned 16) striker being called up, you imagine an electric wide player who stands out for his youth.
Lamine Yamal is what is known as an “offensive generator“. He starts on the right flank and has a great dribbling ability that allows him to create space, but what is most striking is his passing vision and his infinite number of different shots on the ball.
With Spain, he has already shown he can execute the typical far post curling shot to perfection, but he also has a powerful shot from outside the box that can be surreal for someone of his size.
His feints with his body are his trademark, but it is his final pass that is most exciting. He has a goal, which always ends up being the main dish, but his assists are that dessert that you end up liking even more than the food itself.
If Xavi continues to put his faith in him, we will see that prototypical Messi pass to Jordi Alba from the right flank on numerous occasions, as well as balls into space for the player coming from the other flank and numerous expected assists to Lewandowski.
Clearly, patience is required with a boy who should be starting high school this week, but we are looking at a jewel rarely seen before and who, if he fulfils everything he has shown at youth level, could be an epochal player for FC Barcelona and the national team.
For all this, it makes me angry that a player who last year was making his debut with Barça’s Youth A team in the Youth League as a cadet, is already decisive in professional football.
Lamine reminds me of the passage of time and makes me, at 21, an old man who only makes me long for his younger days. But that’s the thing about these kind of chosen ones, they are talent at its best.
Translated by Marcos Rodríguez.
Main image: @SEFutbol.