Lamine Yamal is the latest on Barcelona’s long list of prodigal teenagers. The youngster followed the footsteps of Gavi and Alejandro Balde from La Masia and made the jump to the first team at the tender age of 16.
If the team’s first four games are anything to go by, Yamal is here to stay with the Catalans’ first team. However, an aspect of his career that was unclear was his international future.
The Spanish and Moroccan national teams waged a long war for the prodigy’s services, with the former being his country of birth and the latter being the country where his father was born.
In the end, Yamal opted to play for Spain and was even called up to the senior squad for the ongoing international break.
The saga is far from over
According to a report from AS, Morocco are still pressuring Yamal to reconsider his decision to represent Spain and agree to play for them.
They quote the FIFA regulation regarding the eligibility of players to change their federation and hope to convince them of their project.
FIFA changed the rule regarding players changing allegiances with national teams, and it is now necessary for footballers under the age of 21 to play three matches for a country before being blocked from representing a different team, unless they have played in a World Cup match.
Morocco, having made use of this ruling to coax a former Barça starlet, Munir El Haddadi from Spain, are trying to repeat the tactic with Yamal.
The report goes on to add that Moroccan coach Walid Regragui even visited Yamal in Catalonia to convince the player to represent the African nation.
However, he was unsuccessful because Spanish youth team co-ordinator Francis Hernandez had beaten him to the race.
In fact, Hernandez has identified and tied down over 100 talented youngsters who could play for another country to stick with the Spanish National Team in just the last five years.
Yamal, breaking records for Spain
The 16-year-old talent has been called up by Luis de La Fuente for the ongoing EURO qualifiers for La Roja.
He started Spain’s game against Georgia on the bench but was called into action as early as the 44th minute when Dani Olmo and Marco Asensio hobbled off injured.
Yamal thus became Spain’s youngest-ever debutant at the senior level on the night. As the game progressed, he even found the back of the net in the 7-1 win and is now the country’s youngest goalscorer in history.
He is also starting for La Roja against Cyprus tonight, so Morocco can kiss their hopes goodbye.