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Lamine Yamal: Barca's Youngest Sensation Breaking Records

 Lamine Yamal: Barca's Youngest Sensation Breaking Records

Lamine Yamal
Lamine Yamal of FC Barcelona competes for the ball with Zaidu Sanusi of FC Porto during the Group H - UEFA Champions League match between FC Barcelona and FC Porto at Estadi Olimpic Lluis Companys on November 28, 2023 in Barcelona, Spain(Image-Getty) 

Considered talented and promising, Lionel Messi was first played in Barcelona's first team after turning 18. Ansu Fati made his debut for Barca at the age of 16.

But coach Javi Hernandez did not wait so long for Lamine Yamal. Just like Messi and Fati, Yamal, who came out of Barca's La Masia academy, was so promising that Xavi put him on the field before he turned 16.

Yamal caught everyone's attention at a young age due to his dribbling, passing and scoring skills. At the age of 14, he was called up to the Spain under-16 team. Also played in the Spain Under-15, Under-17 and Under-19 teams by 2022.

Most of the times he is seen in the role of right winger. Able to contribute as a center forward, attacking midfielder, or even as a false nine when the team needs it. In fact, it is a responsibility to find such a young forward with many qualities like Yamal!

Yamal was 15 years and 290 days old when he played against Real Betis in Barcelona's jersey on April 29. Barca's youngest ever player to make his debut on that day, became the youngest in just five months. This brilliant youngster is the youngest ever to be in the starting XI of a La Liga side, score his first La Liga goal, debut and score for the national team Spain this century.

Incidentally, Yamal's Barca teammates have repeatedly overtaken him in breaking the youngest ever record. On his first appearance for Barca, teammate Ansu Fati (Fati currently plays for Brighton) fell behind. Fati also broke the record for being named in the Catalan club's starting XI for the first time and scoring a goal. He also holds the record for Spain's youngest player and goalscorer, surpassing another teammate, Gavi.

However, everything depended on Yamal's decision to create a double record for Spain. His father being Moroccan and his mother Guinean, he had the opportunity to represent both countries. Morocco, who surprised everyone by reaching the semi-finals of the 2022 World Cup, also tried hard to take him. Morocco's hopes were not fulfilled as Yamal eventually chose native Spain.

This time, Yamal is in front of the challenge of making a continental record across the borders of the country. If he scores against Royal Antwerp today in the UEFA Champions League, he will become the youngest goalscorer in the competition's history. Don't worry if you don't score today. If you can find the opponent's net in any match this season, the record will become yours. In that case, he will break the record of Barca teammate Fati. On December 10, 2019, Barca beat Inter Milan 2-1 in the last half of the Champions League group stage match with Fati's goal. He was 17 years and 40 days old at that time.

Fati's goal broke a record that had stood for 22 years. On 1 October 1997, former Ghanaian striker Peter Ofori Kuaye scored for Olympiakos against Rosenborg. Kuay was 17 years and 194 days old at that time. After breaking Fati Kuaye four years ago, many would have thought that the record would stand for another 22 years. But for Yamal, this record is also a matter of time.

Yamal has played five matches for Barcelona in the Champions League so far. Xavi replaced him in three of them. He also created several goal opportunities in those matches. The record could have been set earlier if there was a little twist or luck. Since that is not the case, Yamal has to wait for it to bear fruit.

However, there are a few who have become 'threats' in front of Yamal to set a new record. Midfielder Ethan Nwaneri was in Arsenal's squad for the match against Lance on November 29. However, Nwaneri did not make his Champions League debut that day. Had Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta played him and scored, he would have become the youngest goalscorer in Champions League history. Because, at that time he was 16 years and 253 days old. As Nwaneri is yet to make his Champions League debut, he is not a headache for Yamal for now.

Apart from that, Yamal won't suffer much if Nwaneri gets a goal early in the Champions League. Yamal is about four months younger than Nwaneri. Nwaneri became the youngest goalscorer in Champions League history, but that would be short-lived. Today Nwaneri is 16 years 267 days old, Yamal is 16 years 151 days old.

Apart from Yamal and Nwaneri, there are two other players who have been in a team's squad in this year's Champions League - Newcastle United's Aidan Harris and another of Yamal's Barca team-mates Pau Kubersi. Harris has not yet made his debut in Newcastle's first team. Besides, being a goalkeeper, he can easily be removed from Yamal's 'threat list'.

Kuberci has not yet been lucky enough to wear the Barca jersey. Being a centreback, his chances of scoring are also low. In the two matches he played for the Barça youth team in the Youth Champions League, there were no goals or assists either. Like most centrebacks, there is little tendency to get over the top.

However, the possibility of Kubersi becoming the youngest goalscorer cannot be completely ruled out. Barca can field a second-tier XI against Antwerp today as they have already secured their place in the Champions League knockout stages from Group H. According to ESPN, Barca will enter the field with eight changes in the starting eleven today. If that is the debut of Kubersi. And he could also get a goal on debut against group-bottom Antwerp (lost all five matches and conceded 15 goals). But Kubersi's record may also last for a while. He is

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