Lamine Yamal of FC Barcelona during the Pre-season friendly, Joan Gamper Trophy match between FC Barcelona and Tottenham Hotspur played at Luis Companys Stadium on August 8, 2023 in Barcelona, Spain.

Barcelona’s teenage Ronaldinho regen is already claiming ankles & we love it

The summer weather in Barcelona have been close to roasting, but the form of Lamine Yamal has been enough to make the soaring temperatures feel like Antarctica by comparison. 

Yamal has burst onto the scene in recent months as the latest product plucked from La Masia’s insatiable conveyor belt of talent.

Fearless in possession, the 16-year-old (yep, born after Rihanna inflicted ‘Umbrella’ onto a rain-sodden nation) has already made Barcelona supporters forget about the defection of Ousmane Dembele to PSG.

Why? Because even though Dembele was a silky operator when he woke up on the right side of bed, Yamal already has a higher ceiling than the Frenchman. Just ask Sergio Reguilon and Tottenham Hotspur.

As Barca attempted to make themselves at home at the Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys, short of hanging up a ‘Live, Laugh, Love’ sign and buying some house plants, the winger shredded Spurs like a government minister disposing of some inconvenient paperwork.

When the ball came to Yamal, the crowd hummed with expectation and his opponents had to use all their mental strength to resist getting on a plane and permanently relocating to South America.

Perhaps Reguilon would’ve been well-advised to do just that. The Spurs defender, bought back into the fold after Antonio Conte’s deep freeze, made the unwise decision to tackle Yamal.

Barcelona’s Next Big Hope read Reguilon’s intentions like they’d been sent by email the previous evening. Racing towards the centre of the pitch, Yamal checked his run and turned inside, leaving Reguilon scooting out of the stadium for a portion of Esquites.

It was enough to bring back fond memories of Ronaldinho, who used to break the ankles of defenders as some kind of bloodsport. The Barcelona fans purred with appreciation.

“Inside the pitch, this is where I feel most comfortable,” Yamal answered when asked about his favourite position.

“I’d define myself as a player that tries to be very creative in the final third and use my skills.”

Yamal’s description matches up with what his former manager Jordi Font, who coached the player with Barca’s under-10s during the 2016-17 season, thinks of him.

“Lamine is the prime example of what La Masia should do: teach these incredibly gifted young players when to follow our style of play, and when to execute the unique ideas that they have in their mind and be different,” he says.

“I’d define him as a creative and skilful attacker who has been raised and impregnated with Barcelona’s philosophy.

“Lamine played mainly as an attacker with our team, but I can remember using him as a midfielder too, when needed. He can operate as a No 9, a winger, even as an attacking midfielder.”

In press conferences towards the end of last season, Xavi highlighted how confident and comfortable Yamal has been in making this recent step up.

“Back when I was a youngster I was more shy and cautious. I don’t see any fear in his eyes,” he said on Monday. “But not just Yamal. Gavi, Pedri or Balde were the same, for instance.

“He has the personality, skill, last pass, he is strong… we are talking about a footballer that can define an era at this club. We have been speaking with him. He is happy and will help us.”

There’s no doubt Yamal will help Barca this season. While his minutes will need to be managed, it’s impossible not to get excited about a player that’s already claiming ankles like a prime Ronaldinho regen.

By Michael Lee

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