How does Lionel Messi compare to Lamine Yamal at 16 years old?

How does Lionel Messi compare to Lamine Yamal at 16 years old?

Published Jul. 9, 2024 7:02 p.m. ET

Spain is heading to the final at Euro 2024 thanks in large part to the contributions of a 16-year-old.

Lamine Yamal made history in its 2-1 win over France in Tuesday's semifinal, becoming the youngest player to score a goal in the history of the tournament. The forward also did in impressive fashion, creating space for himself several yards outside the box before firing a strike that squeezed between a diving Mike Maignan and the post to rattle in and level the match in the 21st minute.

Lamine Yamal becomes the YOUNGEST player to score in Euros history with a STUNNING strike vs. France

While Dani Olmo scored to give Spain the lead in the 25th minute and put him in pole position to win the Golden Boot at the tournament, everyone had Yamal fever during and after Tuesday's match. Yamal nearly added a second impressive goal late in the second half, firing a shot off that went just above the crossbar and would've given Spain a 3-1 lead.


Yamal received high marks all around, with many pointing to his goal as one of the most impressive plays of the tournament. As Yamal only turns 17 on Saturday, the "FOX Soccer NOW" crew couldn't help but think about his potential, including whether he can have a greater career than the player many believe is the best to ever play the spot. 

"I'm gonna bring up one of my pals, who texted me when he saw the assist Yamine Lamal had in that first game against Croatia, where he curled it in and Dani Carvajal tipped it in," Jimmy Conrad said. "Just off that assist, my buddy goes: ‘Better than [Lionel] Messi at 16.' I was like, ‘C'mon, you can't say he's going to be better than Messi.' So, three seconds after Lamine Yamal scored [on Tuesday], he wrote, ‘I told you, he's going to be better than Messi.'"

Conrad thinks Yamal has proven that his name is worthy to be in the debates as Messi, at least when discussing who was the better player as a teenager.

"We've seen enough here that he could move into the same category, but Messi's Messi," Conrad said. "I don't feel like this should be a comparison. … In fairness, Lamine is younger [than when Messi emerged for Argentina]."

Wes Morgan isn't fully on board with saying that Yamal will surpass Messi, but he certainly sees that he can possibly reach that level. 

"Messi is Messi. He's been there and done it from a young age, tearing up the fences, scoring wondergoals," Morgan said. "But I don't want to say no. He has the potential. He's shown in this tournament what he's capable of. He's got assists. He's got crucial goals. The goal he scored today was out of nothing. That's just individual brilliance. So, he's on the right track. But Messi, it's too soon to say he's going to be better than Messi. Give me a couple more years and we'll see."

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Meanwhile, Melissa Ortiz believes the comparison between Yamal and Messi isn't perfect because of have different playing styles. But she's also excited to see what the Spanish youngster could become in the coming years.

"His threat in so many key ways that he can do it, whether it's cutting in and taking players on 1v1, finding little spaces and getting a shot off or it's serving just straight up beautiful buckets in the air so someone can go on in and get in that back stick," Ortiz said. "He's been doing this game in and game out, it's so impressive. When you think about this comparison to Messi and what he can be, he's still 16, but I think he is in his own way. We saw Messi shine dribbling through players. Whereas, Lamine Yamal, has other strengths. He's just a totally different type of player than what we saw when Messi was younger. 

"But if he's only 16, I can't wait to see what he's doing at 21."

While Yamal is still a long way away from reaching the heights and achievements Messi has gotten to in his career, he can do something that Messi never did as a teenager: win a major international tournament. Messi didn't win his first major international tournament until the 2021 Copa América.

With Yamal impressing again on Tuesday, Morgan believes that he's very much in play to win Player of the Tournament. 

"There's been a few players, Dani Olmo, Lamine Yamal and Nico Williams are the few you need to consider, Morgan said of the award. "When it comes down to the match and whoever outperforms everyone or scores a wondergoal, on today's performance, Yamal will get it. He's been brilliant. I think you have to summarize the whole tournament and whoever does the job in the final. 

"He's got to be in the conversation."

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