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Barcelona youngster the best U-23 dribbler in Europe, according to CIES data

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Photo by JORGE GUERRERO/AFP via Getty Images

Xavi has a number of options in his attacking arsenal for the ongoing season at Barcelona. Robert Lewandowski may be the only guaranteed starter as it stands, but the wingers have all had their roles to play this term.

Of them, Lamine Yamal is the biggest surprise. Arriving on the scene at the Catalan first team as a teenager, not much was expected of the Spanish international.

In a short span, he has established himself as a unique weapon for the manager, and only his tender age prevents him from securing a regular starting position.

Leading the pack at 16

According to reports from CIES Football Observatory, an organisation that specialises in analysing and auditing data, Yamal is the best dribbler under the age of 23 in Europe’s top five leagues.

Some of the other names on the list include Napoli’s phenom Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, Arsenal’s Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka and Real Sociedad’s Takefusa Kubo.

The Barcelona protege has recorded a staggering 56 dribbles in La Liga this season and averages six dribbles every ninety minutes. Notably, he also has a goal and an assist to his name in the league.

Prodigy. (Photo by LLUIS GENE/AFP via Getty Images)

A cautious approach

Barcelona are building the team around the young core, with players like Pedri, Gavi and Ronald Araujo serving as the nidus. However, they have not fared well in managing the players’ game time.

With a heavy dependency on young guns, Barcelona have exploited the services of young talents in recent years. Pedri is now suffering the consequences in the form of recurrent injuries while his compatriot Gavi also felt significant fatigue earlier this year.

Xavi, thus, is taking a more measured approach in Yamal’s case. The manager hopes to gradually integrate him into the senior team without burdening his growing body, thus keeping the door to injuries closed.

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