The kid is different gravy.

Encara Yamal – Barcelona’s teenage dream is dribbling his way to Messi-esque immortality

Between playing first-team football for one of the world’s biggest clubs and going to the final of the World Darts Championship, these 16-year-old athletes are becoming quite inconsiderate.

As if watching Luke Littler nail doner kebabs and throw 180s for fun night after night wasn’t a harsh enough reminder that we ordinary folk are now beyond our peak and officially not making it in the world of sport, Lamine Yamal has returned to twist the knife some more.

Barcelona’s teenage sensation isn’t an entirely new phenomenon at this point, blowing our minds last year when he forced his way into Xavi’s plans and debuted aged 15, having trained with the first-team squad as young as 13 years old.

However, since that impressive start, Yamal has gone from strength to strength and established himself as a regular at La Blaugrana, nailing down a spot on the right flank that has previously belonged to Ousmane Dembele and of course Lionel Messi.

His emergence has blown the idea of footballing agemates out of the water completely, as he crushes our dreams of being plucked off the pitches at Powerleague with every blistering performance or show of promise.

It’s not just the potential that Yamal possesses which is frightening – and demoralising – but the ability he already demonstrates with regularity at his age.

Blessed with outstanding balance and technical ability, Yamal is already dribbling with more punch than a bag of knuckles and completely blitzing senior defenders in the process.

It’s not even embarrassing at this point, because we’ve very quickly become aware of exactly what the kid is capable of.

Real Betis felt the full effect of it in a whirlwind contest with Barcelona, losing 4-2 in the end despite Isco’s best efforts to roll back the years to the glory days when he was the young hotshot and balance was restored in the force.

Ferran Torres stole the headlines for his hat-trick and assist carry job to snatch three points for Xavi, but it was Yamal who stole our eyes and hearts with a bludgeoning dart down the wing which made us feel horrendously old just from watching.

Seriously, how do you defend such a combination of attributes? The kid is a menace – and makes it look effortless.

Picking up the ball in his own half, Yamal gets his head up and visualises a blank canvas in front of him. His feet the paintbrushes, he slaloms and chops his way through three different Betis players trying to slow him down with the help of the touchline, carrying Barcelona up the field in a matter of seconds.

The young Spaniard eventually finds himself at a dead end, but how he bursts forward without thought is Messi-esque, cutting and chopping his way through like the ball is glued to his boots.

You can hear that iconic ‘encara Messi’ commentary in your head as you watch him strut his stuff.

A reminder that Yamal is splicing together such penetrative and blistering dribbles against seasoned professionals who have been doing this football thing for years, and are thus infinitely more experienced than him as well as being superior physically.

None of that matters, though, when you’re a generational talent with feet and an IQ brighter than the sun, despite not being old enough to buy himself a copy of Grand Theft Auto if he wanted to unwind on the PlayStation after work.

It’s at this point we may as well concede that we’ve got no chance, have we? Powerleague or bust.

Time to get on the oche and order a few kebabs.

By Mitch Wilks

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