Lamine Yamal is 15 years old, studies 3rd ESO and is one of the 51 footballers of formative age who live at the Masia. There is nothing special about the boy, he is rather discreet, perhaps distinguished by a certain sense of humor and likes to play table football with his friends from the Barça residence. The son of a Moroccan father and a mother from Equatorial Guinea, the attacker was born in Esplugues de Llobregat, lived in Granollers and Mataró and it may have been lucky that he entered the Barcelona academy at the age of seven. The ambition of the parents often exceeds that of the promise, who simply feels like a footballer child and an anonymous resident, even though he plays for Barça.
Lamine Yamal’s life ceased to be one of many, that of an under-15 and under-16 international footballer who is supposed to have some very interesting natural qualities while awaiting his physical growth, when last February it was learned that he had been expelled along with Dani Muñoz (Atlético) and Jesús Fortea (Madrid) from the concentration of the under-17 team. The cause was an act of indiscipline that supposedly consisted of phoning a qualified employee of the team coached by Julen Guerrero in a bad way. The news surprised in the Masia. They had only caught his attention once before they now also sanctioned him with four games without playing in Juvenil A.
Journalists have not lost track of Lamine Yamal since then. This is how it became known that he had been called up on more than one occasion to train with Xavi’s team until on Saturday he was called up for the Barcelona-Atlético de Madrid match. Never has such a young player been summoned by the Barça professional team. The forecasts are that before finishing the League he will also become the earliest rookie ahead of Ansu Fati, Bojan, Ilaix Moriba and Vicenç Martínez, who made his debut at 16 years and 280 days in 1941.
Bet on the quarry
The commitment to the quarry is maintained due to fidelity to the style and also due to the critical economic situation of Barça. Today Pedri (20 years old), Balde (19) and Gavi (18) are the starters, in addition to Araujo (24), while Ansu (20) is a substitute and Nico (21) and Abde (21) were loaned to Valencia and Osasuna . The next to set foot on the Camp Nou pitch after sitting on the bench could be Lamine Yamal. “He has personality, an innate talent and he doesn’t look like anyone, he has things from several footballers,” argued Xavi to explain his call-up against Atlético. “He handles himself well one on one, in the last pass, he is strong, he is not afraid and he can mark a stage at Barça.”
In Xavi’s opinion, he has the characteristics of footballers “of the new generations, who act with tremendous unconsciousness, great self-confidence. He has done some wonderful training sessions ”, finished the Barcelona coach. Lamine Yamal, however, is not just another young man, but “is different”, insisted the Barça coach. A left-handed dribbler, he can play at both ends, as well as a center forward and even a creative interior player, according to reports from La Masia. Even though he is a cadet, he plays in Juvenil A, played six Youth League games and has been at the Camp Nou without going through Rafa Márquez’s subsidiary.
It may not be by chance that he has gained such notoriety if one takes into account that he will turn 16 in June and will sign his first professional contract with the mediation of Jorge Mendes. The Portuguese agent broke in last March and replaced Iván de la Peña in the task of representation. A change that on many occasions has been brought about by economic compensation and that announces the entry of Lamine Yamal in the sticker album of the candidates for figures, a process already experienced by Ansu and Balde, also represented by Mendes. The process also sometimes includes the offer of the player’s father to Madrid.
“Until the players turn 16, the coaches normally deal with their parents,” they explain from the Ciudad Deportiva del Barça. “They are concerned if their children pass the season cut and if they move up a category,” they add. “But after 16 the agents appear”, as has been the case of Lamine Yamal. Precocity has its toll due to more protection that exists in training centers such as La Masia.
“He was still a prebenjamín when I decided to incorporate him,” recalls Jordi Roura, former director of youth football at Barça. “He was quick, but nothing special. But his progression has been huge ”, he adds. “You are always surprised. You sit on the bench, you look at him and you ask yourself: what has he done? It is how it goes, how the play ends, how he participates and gives continuity to the game. For me he is the greatest talent there is at La Masia”. Perhaps the only one who doesn’t know or doesn’t believe it at the Barça residence is Lamine Yamal himself.
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