The story of Lamine Yamal, the La Masia talent who has become the youngest ever player to feature in a LaLiga Santander match for Barça.
FC Barcelona’s season has produced many great moments and historic records, but the superstars of the squad, such as Robert Lewandowski and Marc André ter Stegen, aren’t the only ones who have been in the spotlight. There is one player who seems destined to achieve great things in the future and who has broken a record by already featuring with the senior team. This player is Lamine Yamal, who at the age of 15 years and 290 days became the youngest player to feature in a LaLiga Santander match for Los Azulgrana, and the fifth youngest in the history of the whole competition.
Because of his age, we still know little about this La Masia talent. So how does he play? What have his older colleagues said about him?
Firstly, he should be properly introduced and it should be noted that his name is Lamine Yamal, not Lamine or Yamal. This is not his first name and surname, as his surnames are Nasraoui Ebana, inherited from his father of Moroccan origin and his mother of Equatorial Guinean origin. Raised in Mataró, he joined La Masia at the 7-a-side level and, due to the pandemic and the fact that he has always been ahead of his age, as his direct jump from Cadete A to Juvenil A level proves, he has barely had three seasons of experience in playing 11-a-side football.
There is no one better placed to define him than the first-team coach, Xavi Hernández, who spoke about the youngster the day he called him up for the first time, stating: “He is a player who can help us. He has talent, even though he will only turn 16 in July. He has personality, talent, the ability to play the last pass, and skills in one-on-one situations. He is strong too, he has a great attitude and he has been training wonderfully. He could define an important era at the club.”
Those at FC Barcelona’s academy view him as a winger or attacking midfielder, with more touch than explosiveness. He is a left-footed player who tends to play on the opposite side and who has a great ability to filter passes. With all of this, it should be kept in mind that he is still a developing player with a developing body and he is still to gain in strength, height and speed, among other characteristics.
After giving him his debut in the LaLiga Santander match against Real Betis on April 29th, Xavi Hernández didn’t hesitate to project a great future for Lamine Yamal. The coach said: “You can see that he is a special player and that he can become very important. He is a difference-maker, with the ability to play the decisive pass. He isn’t afraid of anything and possesses an innate talent. He can be the future of the club.”
It wasn’t only the coach who praised the teenager’s qualities. Established players such as Raphinha were also amazed by his skill, with the Brazilian stating: “When I was 15 years old, I still played for my local team. He has a lot of quality and came very close to scoring a goal. It was a shame he couldn’t, but I’m sure he will sooner or later.”
Away from FC Barcelona, Lamine Yamal has already played in several of Spain’s youth teams. He is a key player in Julen Guerrero’s U17 team, while the 15-year-old has even already made his debut for Spain’s U19 side.
His play is exciting, although his age means we should be cautious about the future of a player who still has a lot of growing and learning to do. But, he is a player who has already presented himself in the highest division of Spanish football and who has managed to convince the fans of FC Barcelona, the current LaLiga Santander champions, to take notice of him and his full name: Lamine Yamal.