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Football Features

Lamine Yamal: Spain wonderkid likened to Ronaldinho dazzling at Euro 2024

By Will Evans

Published: 15:00, 21 June 2024

There are few more exciting talents in world football than Lamine Yamal.

At just 16 years old, the winger is already starring for Barcelona and Spain — and he is now setting Euro 2024 alight.

All eyes will undoubtedly be on Yamal this summer, as he goes in search of European Championship glory with La Roja at Euro 2024.

Star qualities

Plays like: Ronaldinho

Yamal has often drawn comparisons with fellow La Masia graduate Lionel Messi, but his game has more in common with another former Barcelona star — Ronaldinho.

He possesses similarly sublime dribbling skills to the Brazilian and frequently tries to beat opponents down the right flank.

That is reflected in his numbers from last season, with 128 attempted take-ons and 70 completed take-ons putting him inside La Liga’s top five performers for both metrics.

The teenager shares Ronaldinho’s creative attributes, too, having conjured the sixth-most big chances in Spain’s top flight (13) and registered five league assists in 2023/24.

That is perhaps unsurprisingly in the context of Yamal’s ambitious passing, which resulted in a significant 416 completed passes into the final third last term.

And he is also not afraid to pull the trigger, netting five goals from a relatively high volume of shots (58) and shots on target (21).

Although the left-footed starlet’s best attributes come to the fore when his team is in possession, he is also capable of regaining the ball effectively in advanced areas.

Notably, only 11 players in La Liga won the ball more times in the attacking third than the Blaugrana’s No27 (21).

It is, frankly, remarkable that a player as young as Yamal is posting such impressive figures, but he truly looks to be a generational talent.

With eye-catching technique and years ahead of him to develop his all-round game, it is frightening to think how far the Barcelona native can develop in the future.

International pedigree

Yamal has a penchant for breaking records, not least at international level.

He enjoyed a debut to remember in September last year, when he became Spain’s youngest-ever player and goalscorer (16 years and 57 days) after netting in a 7-1 victory against Georgia.

That strike also saw him take Gareth Bale’s mantle as the youngest scorer in European Championship qualifying history.

It was an impressive way to make the occasion, too — finding space on the right side of the box to power Nico Williams’ cross into the net.

And it did not take long for him to add to that tally, registering his second international goal in November’s 3-1 qualifying triumph over Cyprus.

Yamal once again drifted into the area from the right flank on that occasion, before showing admirable composure to deceive goalkeeper Joel Mall and slot home.

But perhaps his most impactful performance for La Roja came in a 3-3 friendly draw against Brazil in March.

The youngster’s penetrating dribble won the penalty for Spain’s opener, while his pass for Dani Olmo set up their second of the evening.

And there were another two records broken at Euro 2024. Yamal started Spain’s 3-0 win over Croatia, making him the youngest ever player in European Championship history.

He also set up Dani Carvajal’s goal to make it 3-0, naturally becoming the youngest player to assist at a European Championship.

Club season snapshot

Yamal certainly caught the eye at Barcelona in 2023/24.

Having made his first start for the club against Cadiz in August, the youngster got his season up and running with an assist versus Villarreal the following week — a pinpoint cross for Gavi to open the scoring.

He then became the youngest goalscorer in La Liga history after netting from close range against Granada in October.

That was the first of seven goals across all competitions last term, including a brace in the return clash with Granada.

Yamal’s second strike in that game was particularly noteworthy, as he curled a low drive into the bottom-right corner from outside the box to level the scoring at 3-3.

It was not his only specular effort either, with an outstanding long-distance looping shot proving to be the only goal of the game in March’s win against Mallorca.

And though the attacker is still waiting to open his Champions League account, he did feature 10 times in Europe’s elite competition, contributing two assists.

Remarkably, only Ilkay Gundogan (51) played more matches for Barcelona across all competitions than Yamal (40) last season.

That statistic reveals his importance to the Blaugrana, who struggled to compete with Real Madrid at Spain’s summit and exited the Champions League at the quarter-final stage.

Yamal will be hoping for better fortune with Spain at Euro 2024, where he is already among the tournament’s breakout stars.