At 16 you don’t have a driving license, or even a motorcycle license. At that age you are either finishing or have just finished compulsory education, but you don’t have much of an idea of what you want to do with your life. Your biggest concern is going out with your friends. The plan doesn’t matter. You play a sport, or maybe you play an instrument, you usually do something after class that allows you to mentally escape from your obligations as a teenage student. At 16, you are neither young enough for some things, nor old enough for others. But you have to start choosing, and choosing for yourself is difficult, no matter how old you are. The fear of making mistakes appears.
At 16 years old I was worried about what I was going to be when I grew up. I had more or less a rough idea that it was going to be sports related. I didn’t care what form, but sport, for sure. At that age I was still getting paid, I played basketball, and when I wasn’t training I was watching games on television. At 16 years old you have to do many things in life that we surely think are great for us, but I doubt that playing a Champions League match is in our plans.
At 16 years and 83 days old, Lamine Yamal has just renewed with Barça until 2026, when he will be 19, and with a €1,000 million bonus. And he can celebrate it today at O Dragao where, if he scores, he will become the youngest footballer to score in the history of the competition, overtaking Ansu Fati.
Lamine’s case is a blessing for football, regardless of which team you are on. He has one DNI on the field and another outside of it. She smiles like an iron because of the devices, she has to be taken to training by car, also to the games. She walks like a kid her age, somewhat ungainly, she smiles at the cameras as if she were embarrassed.
Nothing to do with who he is on the field, brazen and one of the most unbalanced players in the league. In the midst of adolescence, Lamine is not afraid of making mistakes, he always makes the best decision, which consists of leaving his rivals behind and the ball in front of him. He brings electricity to the game and a privileged vision to football. In preseason few could imagine his progression and his emergence into Xavi’s team. Now it is necessary, differential. He exudes maturity in his game both in the Barça first team and in the senior team.
There are those who say that it will mark a before and after for the Barça club. They are the same ones who long for something to hold on to since Messi’s departure. That pressure and that burden does not correspond to him, to Lamine, but to football, which is the one who manages all this. The same was also said about Ansu and the injuries are depriving us, for the moment, of enjoying what could have been and is not happening.
The stratospheric shielding that Barça has given him responds to what he already is but, above all, to what he can become, if his physique respects him. That is why Xavi warns that “he is a differential footballer, but we have to take care of him, he is too young to burn him out.” How difficult it is to deprive yourself of seeing a footballer who offers so much spectacle. That’s football, right? Let’s enjoy. We have become accustomed to so much precocity that we have adopted it as normal when it is not. 16 are the new 25.
And you, what were you doing when you were 16 years old?
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