‘He can evolve like Messi’…Says former La Masia coach about 16-year-old Barcelona gem


Spain's forward #19 Lamine Yamal gestures during the UEFA Euro 2024 quarter-final football match between Spain and Germany at the Stuttgart Arena in Stuttgart on July 5, 2024.
Photo by TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP via Getty Images

It is not uncommon for former coaches of FC Barcelona to be asked to voice their opinions on modern matters. Some coaches continue to do it in a negative light at times, but there are all kinds of opinions flying around. However, coaches who have formerly coached Barcelona at the youth level often have very valuable insights to provide.

Moreover, considering the recent success that Barcelona has had with their graduating youngsters, it is hardly surprising to see more and more coaches voice out their unique opinions. With rival players being willing to praise the new generation of Barcelona, it is hardly a surprise that Barça’s own people also believe it to be a positive development.

Such were the words attributed by former La Masia coach Franc Artiga, who is currently following his passion for coaching in Russia. In a recent interview with SPORT, the man who spent nine years coaching the Barcelona youth categories was asked about many topics related to him and Barça.

One question that stood out, however, was one that was focused on Lamine Yamal, the 16-year-old prodigy from Barcelona who has taken the world by storm right now. Asked if his emergence and prominence at such a young age is dangerous for him, Artiga had a straightforward reply for Yamal’s case:

“No, I don’t worry about Lamine. It’s true that anything can happen, and there are players who emerge but then don’t establish themselves, but I don’t see that happening in this case. What I do see is that Lamine’s evolution is yet to be seen, and I mean that positively.”

However, that was not the only thing Artiga mentioned about the Barcelona wonderkid. Convinced that he will make a shift from the wings to a more central attacking position later in his career, almost as a ‘false 9’, Artiga believes that Yamal will follow in the footsteps of Barcelona and Argentina icon Lionel Messi:

“Right now, we classify him as a winger, but I am convinced that, given his age, this will change for the better. I believe Lamine will increasingly come into contact with the ball and not just operate as a wide player.

“I think he can evolve like Messi did by being brought closer to the play, getting more touches, and being more involved. I don’t see him just making plays like he is now; I have the feeling that gradually, he will be integrated more into the overall idea of the game, and it could be spectacular.”

The former Barcelona coach also believes that the experience he is currently gaining both with Spain and also at the club level, will be very valuable to his development and growth as a player:

“The growth he can achieve, given his age, is unpredictable. The experience he’s gaining by playing in the Euros at just 16 years old will be very valuable. I believe the coaches will bring him closer to the play, and I see him playing as a false nine or a second forward.”

While Artiga focuses on his work in Russia for now, it seems clear that he keeps a close eye on Yamal. After all, given his emergence, someone would have to be living under a rock to not see the magic that the player is bringing to the European Championship, and Barcelona are just as excited as anyone to see what the future holds for him.

Raafay Humayun
Raafay Humayun
Raafay Humayun is a life-long fan of FC Barcelona and an avid enjoyer of all things Blaugrana. Having fallen in love with the club for the way they defined football for him, he now spends his time watching games, analyzing the happenings in them, and digesting any and everything related to his beloved Catalan club. He also writes as an author for Barca News Network hoping to deliver the latest updates to his fellow ‘culés’.

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