The results are in – Barcelona’s Messi regen is already on the path to GOAT territory
Barcelona have the first victory of their La Liga defence thanks to Pedri and Ferran Torres, but it’s a teenager born in 2007 who dominated the headlines and stole the show – again.
Every time we hear the name ‘Lamine Yamal’ a part of us dies inside, knowing that someone who was born the year after the PlayStation 3 had released is now playing professional football.
Not just any professional football, either – he’s ripping it up for Barcelona and setting out a seriously strong pathway to the very top of the game. He can’t even buy Cold and Flu tablets here in the UK.
Lempsip is the least of young Lamine’s worries, though. In Barcelona’s first game of the 2023-24 campaign, Xavi had entrusted the 16-year-old to affect the game against Cadiz from the first whistle, officially making the teenager the youngest player to debut for Barcelona in La Liga in the 21st Century.
No pressure, then.
For any of us, the pressure of not making an arse of yourself on a Sunday league field is enough to prompt us to hang up the boots. So to be starting for a resurgent Barca side, trusted by one of the greatest midfielders of all time, as a teenager is incomprehensible.
We’ve been following Yamal for a short while now, though, and if you have too, then his incredibly tidy full La Liga debut will be of absolutely no surprise to you.
Having been brought into first-team training at 15, Yamal has swiftly climbed the ranks and seemingly become the apple of his manager’s eye.
What initially seemed a bizarre decision from Xavi now looks to be a masterstroke, however, as his highlights package against Cadiz suggests that he has unearthed a gem.
16-year-old Lamine Yamal became the youngest Barcelona player to start in La Liga in the 21st Century last night…
Chopping up defenders like a veteran. This kid is a joke.pic.twitter.com/XCLoPbcXB7
— Planet Football (@planetfutebol) August 21, 2023
If you’re Torres or any other winger at Barcelona, you’d be livid. The kid has strolled in at 16 and put in a performance that could leave the rest of you on the transfer list. Fuming isn’t the word.
Looking beyond the babyface, you’d be shocked to learn his age when watching how he glides with the ball at his feet, stands up defenders and takes them either way before bursting past them.
Not only is it all so slick and done without any fear, but it almost always comes off, too. Yamal is playing with the conviction of a killer.
To have that confidence and the ability to continually exploit your opponent in such a manner, while carrying out tactical instructions, from a starting position is a rarity.
When you combine that application with a sickening left peg and a skill book that we can only imagine will continue to become more and more full, the signs are scarily positive.
Coming inside or taking it to the byline, he had Cadiz’s entire left flank on skates. They didn’t know whether they were coming or going. Dizzying stuff.
Without trying to lump too much pressure on the teen – he should merely focus on making it to the age where he can legally buy Call of Duty first – there were a number of parallels you could draw between his full league debut and some of the game’s great wingers.
We won’t go there – pressure – but he deserves the flowers for it.
Yamal is the truth. Xavi already knows it, and if La Liga defenders didn’t know it, they’ve just learnt the hard way after watching him leave Cadiz for dead in matchday one. This is only the very beginning for the exciting young Spaniard.
By Mitch Wilks