Barcelona boss Xavi Hernandez has not been able to resist the temptation of turning to the prodigious Lamine Yamal at every given opportunity at the start of the new season.
Yet, fans will not be able to exploit Yamal’s speed or skill in the virtual realm of EA Sports’ new flagship video game, EAFC24. Despite appearing in Barcelona’s first eight games of the campaign – a feat that none of Frenkie de Jong, Ferran Torres or Raphinha can match – Yamal has not been issued a card in this year’s game.
Here’s everything you need to know about Yamal’s notable absence.
Yamal may have made his debut for the senior Spanish national team this season but he wouldn’t even be a senior in high school. Born in July 2007, after the release of the first iPhone, Yamal is deemed to be too young to feature in EA’s game.
The company operate under a self-imposed rule of not including players aged under 17. There may be 17,000 available cards on the new game, dispelling any licensing concerns raised by the split with FIFA, but Yamal is not one of them.
At the tender age of 16 years and 38 days, Yamal started his first La Liga game for Barcelona against Cadiz in August after making his debut at 15 last season. Incidentally, Yamal was picked for the Catalan club’s senior side before appearing for the B team.
Despite his tender years, Xavi has hailed Yamal’s decision-making and fearlessness. “When [head coach Louis] Van Gaal called me to tell me the news I was starting, I was just scared. A sort of feeling that, if I’m honest, I don’t see this anymore among youngsters,” Xavi said earlier this year. “Now I see players like Lamine for example, with such a mentality… that I think I was not even close to. Youngsters have changed. They are braver than we were back in the day.”
To get a sense of how Yamal would be rated if EA dipped below their cut-off, Cadiz manager Sergio Gonzalez offered a comparison. “Yamal is sort of similar to Raphinha,” the opposition coach said before watching his side lose to the teenager this season. “A left-footed winger playing on the right flank. They have a similar skill set, you can argue one might have a better one-on-one, but they are not too different.”
Raphinha, in his prime at 26, boasts an 84 overall rating with a turbo-charged 91 pace.
Almost two months into the new season, Yamal is the only under-17 player to feature in Europe’s top five leagues.
Ethan Nwaneri became the youngest Premier League player of all time when he trotted on for Arsenal against Brentford last season. The attacking midfielder has not made a senior matchday squad for the Gunners since that landmark outing in September 2022 and has unsurprisingly been overlooked for FC 24.
Very few coaches across the leading divisions in Europe or South America are willing to blood players as young as Yamal. Sunderland’s Chris Rigg and Sol Sidibe of Stoke City fall below EA’s age limit in the Championship while Major League Soccer can only boast three 16-year-olds – Stiven Jimenez, Caden Glover and Matai Akinmboni – across 29 clubs.
Paris Saint-Germain‘s Warren Zaire-Emery was not part of the initial release of FIFA 23 – FC 24’s predecessor – due to his tender years. After turning 17 in March, the nippy midfielder was added to Career Mode. Yet, fans had to wait until the release of FC 24 for the first Zaire-Emery card in Ultimate Team (a tidy 74-rated silver).
Yamal doesn’t turn 17 until 13 July 2024, after the conclusion of the current club campaign. EA could feasibly add Yamal to Career Mode before the release of EAFC25 next autumn.
However, the fleet-footed winger wouldn’t even feature in a spin-off game for Euro 2024, as the final doesn’t take place until the day after Yamal blows out his 17 candles.