Opinion: Is it worth giving Lamine Yamal the ‘10’ at Barcelona

Date:

Lamine Yamal: The Future #10 of FC Barcelona
Photo Courtesy: FC Barcelona Collection

In the context of both FC Barcelona and football in general, shirt numbers hold a great value. Unlike most other sports, kit numbers in football are typically a representation of positional importance or even standing within a squad. For Barcelona specifically, some shirt numbers hold a lot of value for other reasons.

Be it the ‘9’ that was worn by the likes of Luis Suarez, Samuel Eto’o, and Ronaldo Nazario, or other numbers such as the ‘7’ or ‘11’ that was worn by some of the finest wingers to play at Barcelona, these numbers hold a special value. However, without a shadow of a doubt, the most influential and prestigious jersey at FC Barcelona is the ‘10’.

Many icons of the sport such as Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho, Rivaldo, Diego Maradona, and others have worn this iconic kit number at Barcelona. Their names have continued to add more and more value as well as prestige to that specific kit number.

However, just as it comes with prestige and honor, that kit number comes with a pressure that is unlike anything else. It is exactly because of this pressure that there is still a debate today about whether or not the 16-year-old Barcelona prodigy, Lamine Yamal, should be given the momentous task of carrying that number’s legacy or not.

Ultimately, there are two ways to judge if anything is worthwhile or not. That would be to assess the pros and cons of that given decision, and it is not too hard to see the two different routes that are worth considering when deciding if it is worth the risk to grant Yamal that fabled number 10 after all.

The pros:

It is almost impossible to single out a player at FC Barcelona right now who deserves that number 10 more than Lamine Yamal. Despite only having played one season at the club, he embodies a style of play and a sense of bravery as a footballer that only the chosen few before him have showcased to possess.

Beyond just his inspiring dribbling, his creative artistry with the ball, and his ability to create something out of nothing, Yamal is an exceptionally gifted young man. Since the early days of an inspired and in-form Ansu Fati, perhaps no player has managed to get Barcelona fans up on their feet quite like Yamal manages to.

Another key element that has to be considered is the marketable aspect of things. Yamal, for better or for worse, is already an insanely marketable product. The Barcelona youngster has broken way too many records already to even keep track of, and his name is a household one across European football and even beyond.

Giving such an influential phenomenon in football the number ‘10’ could be a masterstroke in terms of the marketability of the Barcelona kits and jerseys. It would definitely be a factor to consider if the club does eventually end up caving and giving the youngster that number after all.

The cons:

Perhaps the biggest downside of this specific kit number is the pressure that it brings along with it. The unfortunate case of Ansu Fati is just the latest of the misfortunes that it entails. Once seen as one of the world’s most promising and explosive youngsters, Fati was seen as a completely different player once he took on the responsibility of that jersey following the departure of Lionel Messi.

The Barcelona youngster was no longer seen as a player who needed to grow, but as a player who needed to deliver. With Messi gone, the pressures piled on the Barcelona academy product were far too great for him to handle and he expectedly crumpled, despite being a very strong-willed individual.

Yamal, on the other hand, is even younger than Fati was when he could take on the responsibility of that shirt. Expecting a 16-year-old prodigy to simply take on that responsibility and end up taking on the pressures that it entails could end up being catastrophic. For both the sake of the club and the player’s development as a footballer, it would perhaps be ideal to wait and let the player grow into his own first.

Moreover, unnecessary pressures and expectations will be piled on as comparisons to his predecessors will become more and more frequent. Yamal does not need a constant reminder of needing to be as good or close to the otherworldly levels of Lionel Messi to even be deserving of that number at Barcelona.

Furthermore, Ansu Fati is still currently the rightful owner of that kit number. Unless he is permanently sold or he willingly lets go of that specific number that Barcelona granted him after Messi’s departure, it is unlikely that Lamine Yamal would be able to see it be offered to him.

Conclusion:

While the pros of giving Lamine Yamal the sacred ‘10’ of Barcelona may seem too good to be true, perhaps it is because they just might be. The player is too young to be handling the responsibility of being the new Messiah who leads Barcelona out of their self-created pit and back into the echelons of European glory. Instead, the 16-year-old Barcelona prodigy should be given enough time and space to develop properly before he can eventually have that kind of role at the club of his life.

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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