by Newsroom

Receiving a standing ovation is an honor that few players can boast; receiving it at 16 years old, in the first starting match, in front of an audience accustomed to celebrating the greatest talents, that of Barcelona, is reserved for a select number of players. In the 85th minute of the match against Cadiz, Lamine Yamal became part of this highly exclusive circle.

Born in the municipality of Esplugues de Llobregat, in the province of Barcelona, Lamine took his first steps in the Blaugrana youth sector at the age of just five: joining the Under 16 at only 13 and the Juvenil A, the final piece of La Masia, when he was 15. Yamal never feared facing more experienced opponents, quickly showcasing his talent and surpassing every record of precocity set by his teammate Ansu Fati.

Xavi, aware of the importance of a gradual transition from the youth teams to the first team, had him debut last season against Real Betis, making him the youngest debutant in the Spanish League. In the seven minutes played in that match on April 30th, Yamal immediately seemed at ease in the dynamics of the Spanish champions, coming close to providing an assist and aiming at the goal defended by Bravo with a close-range shot.

In the pre-season of this season, Xavi tested him in matches against Milan and Tottenham, and particularly against Spurs, Yamal played a decisive role in just 10 minutes – including an assist – in all three goals that led to the comeback and victory in the Gamper Trophy. During that friendly, Lamine Yamal definitively dispelled any doubts about his young age and potential difficulties adapting to top-level football. His performance, praised and observed worldwide, convinced Xavi to integrate him into the first team, giving him a quarter of an hour in the challenging away game in Getafe, and then starting him in the first home match, not at Camp Nou, but temporarily at the Lluís Companys Olympic Stadium, against Cadiz.

Deployed in his preferred position, high right winger, Yamal was a constant thorn in Cadiz’s defense, being the player with the most dribbles on the field and forcing goalkeeper Ledesma to make two excellent saves to deny him the joy of scoring his first goal in his new number 27 jersey, previously worn by another La Masia graduate, Pedro.

After the victory against Cadiz, Xavi clarified the reasons for giving him a starting spot, praising his maturity and work ethic as the new star. However, this wasn’t the first time the Catalan coach had been clear about Yamal: even during his Liga debut, he hadn’t dodged the question, customary for debut talents from La Masia, about being impressed like Messi: “Yes,” Xavi responded, adding that Yamal has the potential to mark an era for Barcelona.

These words, spoken by someone who has closely observed one of the strongest players in history, combined with the standing ovation from the Blaugrana crowd – which has witnessed talents like Xavi himself, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, and many others throughout history – represent the highest recognition that Lamine Yamal could achieve. Now, it’s up to him to continue earning admiration and for us to be enchanted by his talent.

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