Teenage wonderkid Lamine Yamal boasts one-on-one ability that is comparable to former Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi, says Blaugrana boss Xavi.
Records continue to fall around the precociously talented 16-year-old, who emerged into the senior stage in 2023 and became a full international with Spain, much as they once did for Argentine icon Messi. The talented midfielder has a tonne of creative ability, and according to Xavi, he may be compared to legends from Barca’s recent history. When describing Yamal’s ball-carrying skills, he said the following: “He’s got the ability in one-on-one situations, you have to look for him. As with [Ousmane] Dembele, with Messi… we must get the ball to him. We have to make the most of it and give this type of player a boost.”
Yamal is clearly drawing comparisons to Messi, who experienced his breakthrough at Barca while still in his teens, and Xavi plans to treat the youngster gently. He continued by imitating the actions of his forerunners, who made sure Messi was never pushed too far: “They are good examples, [Frank] Rijkaard’s management with Leo. He had injuries at the beginning. We have to be cautious with Lamine. He will help us.”
Barcelona will be hoping that Yamal does not pick up any untimely knocks on Friday when he goes up against a Sevilla side that boasts plenty of no-nonsense defenders. Xavi said: “We treat him like someone who is 16 years old, who is in training. We are very close to him. We see him well when he’s in training. He’ll be up against [Sergio] Ramos or [Jesus] Navas, competitive animals at 36.”
The defending La Liga champions Barca are still unbeaten after seven league games this year and are only two points behind surprise early leaders Girona, which means that with a victory over Sevilla at Montjuic, they can take the lead in the standings.