Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez has raised a few eyebrows by including 15-year-old Lamine Yamal in his matchday squad for his team’s La Liga clash against Atletico Madrid on Sunday, April 23.
Yamal is one of the most highly-rated talents in Barcelona’s La Masia academy but this is the first time that he has been included in the senior squad. Xavi told a pre-match press conference that the teenager has a big future ahead of him.
“Everyone who has been called up has the option of participating. He can help us, he has good talent, he is young, has a lot of personality,” he said. “One on one, he’s strong, he’s a player that can mark an era and be really important for the club. He’s not afraid, we’ve put him on the list. we’ve spoken to him, he’s ready. I think he can help us.”
Yamal has been training with the first team this week and has clearly caught Xavi’s eye. The teenager also impressed on his last outing for the team’s Juvenil A side, scoring twice and picking up an assist in a 4-3 win over Mallorca.
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Lamine Yamal Set For Debut?
Xavi has been unafraid to blood youngsters since taking charge of the club which will offer Yamal hope he can debut soon. The first-team coach has already handed debuts to a host of starlets including Ilias Akhomach, Estanis Pedrola, Chadi Riad, Marc Casado and Angel Alarcon.
Yamal will be hoping to gain some valuable first-team minutes in what is a crunch match for Barcelona. The Catalans are 11 points clear at the top of the table in Spain but have been held to goalless draws in their last two fixtures.
Meanwhile, Atletico are in a rich vein of form and head to the Camp Nou on a run of six straight wins. Another victory for the Rojiblancos would be another setback for Barcelona as they chase a first league title since 2019.
Xavi Talks Lamine Yamal’s Future
Xavi also spoke about Yamal’s future and denied the call-up was anything to do with the fact the teenager is close to the end of his contract. Yamal will be able to sign professional terms when he turns 16 in July, but Xavi said the teenager’s been called up simply because he deserves it.
“We will focus on the present, what we have ahead of us. He’s done really well. I’ve liked what I’ve seen and that’s why he’s been called up,” he added. “The fact that his contract is ending is nothing to do with the call-up. He’s training well, has great footballing talent and can play well for the first team despite his age.”
Yamal has already beaten a record at Barcelona previously held by Ansu Fati, scoring for the club’s Under-19 side at the age of 15 years, one month and 28 days. He’s also shone by scoring some eye-catching goals throughout his time at the club.
Xavi has previously said the club “have a project for” Yamal and are clearly hoping he stays at the Camp Nou and can make the breakthrough into the first-team. A call-up at the tender age of 15 demonstrates exactly how highly he’s rated by Xavi and his staff.
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