Lamine Yamal’s obscene flair needs to be studied – Barca’s teenage dream is terrorising defenders
What on earth is Xavi cooking at Barcelona right now? Lamine Yamal has arrived on the scene and is taking the world by storm, embarrassing defenders of all ages who dare step in his path.
When it emerged that he’d been invited into training with the first team aged just 15 in September 2022, plenty of people began to look at Xavi as though he had two heads.
But since then, young Yamal has continually shown the world that his head coach made the correct decision as he embarks on a sickeningly quick ascent to superstardom.
He’s not even old enough to buy the latest rendition of Call of Duty. He was barely a year old when Manchester City were taken over by Abu Dhabi.
Yamal wouldn’t have even played Playstation 2 for crying out loud, let alone remember it on advertising boards on UCL nights in the 2000s.
And yet here he is, in the year 2023, unable to legally put the lottery on or drive himself to training, but still tying groups of defenders up in knots when they try to double up on him under the bright lights of the Champions League.
As Barcelona found a way past Shakhtar Donetsk – with another La Masia gem stealing the show – Yamal stayed out of the spotlight on the night, but still found time to humiliate the opposition.
It’s all too easy to draw parallels between the youngster and Barcelona greats of yesteryear – Messi, Ronaldinho and so on – but when he produces moments of sheer dribbling magic like this, it’s difficult not to acknowledge the lofty comparisons.
Doubling up on the 16-year-old to not give him an ounce of space to burst into, Shakhtar did everything by the book and should’ve been able to contain him.
But as we’ve established, this is no normal 16-year-old.
Seriously, how on earth did he not only visualise a gap in such a tight spot, but then burst into it too?
In a matter of seconds, Yamal seamlessly strings together a catalogue of flicks and tricks that are enough to make the ordinary person quit their local five-a-side league for good and never come back.
It’s mesmerising to see him in full stride, gliding into spaces that don’t exist until he’s suddenly into them, with the ball stuck to his feet as if it’s on a string.
After both being sent for a hot dog individually, Shakhtar’s two unfortunate defenders tasked with shutting out the youngster just about get back in position to make a block of some form.
At this point, simply being able to get in front of the youngster and slow him down is an achievement in itself.
The fearlessness of youth is one thing, but the application to consistently turn up the heat – on a Champions League night, no less – is a skill not many seniors are able to produce.
Yamal has a long way to go and the natural comparisons to Messi, Neymar and Ronaldinho will only increase the pressure on his young shoulders.
But crucially, he’s living the dream and enjoying his football, one defensive fatality at a time – and for as long as he’s having fun, so are we.
By Mitch Wilks