At just 16 years of age, FC Barcelona’s winger Lamine Yamal might be on Louis De La Fuente’s list for Spain’s upcoming games against Georgia and Cyprus.
Spain’s apparently increasing interest in Yamal comes on the heels of the young player catching the attention of football fans and experts in recent weeks due to his outstanding performances with the Blaugrana.
According to the sports website Mundo Deportivo, the Spanish national coach is banking on an “opportunity to guarantee [Yamal] international status forever,” in a bid to preempt Morocco’s own quest to potentially convince the young player to choose to represent the Moroccan Atlas Lions.
As the sports website explained, Spain is concerned that the player may choose to represent his father’s homeland Morocco, given that the Moroccan federation “works very well to attract young people and that would already be tempting him with the memory of the great World Cup in Qatar.”
The absence of Lamine Yamal in the list of the Spanish U18 team backed up the speculations regarding his possible presence with the first team.
Amid Spain’s maneuvering to lure the young player away from the Moroccan national team, the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF) has apparently also activated its operation to counter Spain’s charm offensive by calling up Yamal to take part in Morocco’s upcoming games in September.
On Tuesday this week, the FRMF announced that Walid Regragui will announce the list of the players who will take part in the Atlas Lions’ two games against Liberia and Burkina Faso on September 9 and 12.
While many Moroccans are hoping to see Yamale with the Atlas Lions jersey, the FRMF has made sure to emphasize that the final decision is up to the player himself.
Addressing the question of which national team the talented young player will end up picking, Rabie Takassa, one of the FRMF scouts across Europe, said: “His father is Moroccan, his mother is from Equatorial Guinea and he was born in Spain, so he can choose between three teams. In the end, he will play where he feels best, where his heart tells him.”
The Morocco vs. Spain saga surrounding Yamal’s international career is reminiscent of the Ezzalzouli frenzy two years ago, with the two countries again battling it out to convince the promising Barcelona winger to represent their respective national teams.
While Ezzalzouli ended up choosing the Atlas Lions, it remains to be seen whether his young clubmate will follow in his footsteps. Yet also in Morocco’s favor is that the North African country’s historic World Cup performances have increased the Atlas Lions’ appeal or attractivity for overseas Moroccan talents.