Two years after Lionel Messi departed Barcelona, the Spanish club believes it has unearthed its new star in 16-year-old Lamine Yamal.
Yamal returns to Barcelona after making his debut for Spain last week, where he became the youngest player to score in a European Championship qualification. He also became the youngest player in Spanish national team history to score.
“Lamine has this spark, that brilliance that very few players have," Spain coach Luis de la Fuente said about the teenager. "We must be prudent, and give him time and be patient. He can achieve many important things in football as long as he is humble and keeps his feet on the ground, which is very important at his age.”
Yamal had previously achieved another milestone when he became Barcelona's youngest starter in a win over Cadiz. He has yet to score a goal for his team, but he came close in a 4-3 win over Villarreal. In that game two weeks ago, he assisted on Gavi's goal, struck the crossbar, and set up the winner for Robert Lewandowski, who converted off a rebound following Yamal's attempt.
Not bad for a player who had not yet turned three when Barcelona coach Xavi Hernández helped Spain win the World Cup in 2010.
Yamal, who was born near Barcelona to an Equatorial Guinean mother and a Moroccan father, drew Xavi's attention last season while playing for Barcelona's minor sides. Yamal made his senior squad debut in April, making him the club's youngest player at 15 years, 9 months, and 16 days.
His rise this season has coincided with Barcelona loaning away Ansu Fati, the club's brightest rising talent before suffering a major leg injury. Yamal currently appears to be a regular starter in Barcelona's young lineup, which also features 19-year-olds Gavi and Alejandro Balde, as well as 20-year-old Pedri González.
In the Spanish league, Barcelona hosts Real Betis on Saturday, trailing leader Real Madrid by two points. Girona is equal on points with Barcelona before visiting Granada on Monday.
When Real Sociedad visits Real Madrid on Sunday, Jude Bellingham will be looking to continue his excellent start since joining the club.
The 20-year-old midfielder has five goals in four games and has yet to go scoreless, keeping Madrid unbeaten after four rounds. He scored again for England this week in a 3-1 friendly win over Scotland.
(With AP inputs)