Barca’s Yamal eyes Spanish history after call up

Barcelona forward Lamine Yamal has been called up by Spain and will become the youngest player to ever represent the country if he plays against Georgia or Cyprus this month.

Yamal will be 16 years and 57 days old when Spain play Georgia in a qualifying game for next summer’s European Championship on Sept. 8. The record is held by Barça teammate Gavi, who was 17 years and 62 days old when he debuted for La Roja in 2021.

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Born in Spain, Yamal is also eligible to play for Morocco and Equatorial Guinea through his parents.

He has played for Spain at U15, U16, U17 and U19 level, but World Cup semifinalists Morocco had made moves to get him to consider switching his allegiance recently.

However, following a meeting with delegates from the Royal Spanish Football Federation [RFEF] last week, Yamal agreed to pledge his international future to Spain.

“Lamine knew he wanted to come with us, he has shown that with the youth teams previously,” Spain coach Luis de la Fuente said on Friday.

“He is an exceptional player, blessed with magic. He’s different. I never look at the age of a player, I look at their ability and the level they are playing at and I think he is ready to come with us.”

Yamal made his Barça debut earlier this year while he was still 15 and has featured in all three of the club’s LaLiga games so far this season, starting the last two.

He was named player of the match in last weekend’s 4-3 win at Villarreal, when he set up two goals, with coach Xavi Hernandez saying Barca hold “big expectations” for the teenager

Elsewhere, Villarreal midfielder Álex Baena has also been called up and is in line to make his international debut, while there are returns to the squad for Braga striker Abel Ruiz and Real Madrid’s on loan goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Jordi Alba, who captained Spain to UEFA Nations League success earlier this year, drops out after retiring from international football, as revealed by ESPN earlier this week.

“I spoke with him this week and he told me he wanted to focus on his club, even though he was still part of our plans,” De la Fuente said of the Inter Miami left-back.

“It’s a shame to lose such an important player, but he leaves behind an incredible legacy for the younger players.”

After the Georgia game in Tbilisi, Spain face Cyrpus in Granada in need of two wins after losing to Scotland in their last qualifying game, leaving them with three points from their opening two matches.

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