Four minutes into the match against Cyprus, Lamine Yamal had already stamped his passport to play for Spain for good. The Barça youth player, born in Mataró (Barcelona) to a Moroccan father and an Equatoguinean mother, always had the option of choosing between the three nationalities, but Spain was his main attraction in all youth categories. His debut with Barça thanks to Xavi Hernández led Luis de la Fuente to call him up to the senior team and set the score at zero for the four matches he must play in order not to be able to choose another country's national team.
Yamal made his debut at the age of 16 years and 57 days against Georgia in the first leg of this Euro 2024 qualifier, scored his first goal and set off alarm bells about Morocco's ability to pick up the young player before the four-match requirement was met.
The Spanish press spoke of a Machiavellian plan by the Atlas Lions to get Lamine Yamal to play for Morocco, but the Moroccan federation itself responded to the rumours with a statement denying any pressure. Rabie Takassa, scouting for the Moroccan national team in Spain, was blunt in an interview with Catalan radio station RAC1: "We will never put pressure on a player who has worn another senior national team shirt. We have turned the page with him and everything that has been said lately has no basis in fact".
Morocco's ability to field great players means that they are enjoying a sweet moment in world football with a fourth place finish at the World Cup in Qatar and a promising future thanks to the Mohammed VI Academy and the state-of-the-art facilities in Rabat, which have been recognised by FIFA.
The absence of Lamine Yamal is not a setback for Morocco, while for Spain it offers another young player of quality who will have to prove his consistency at Barcelona in order to continue to wear the red shirt. The objective is to be at the 2024 European Championship in Germany, but also to establish himself with Spain in order to reach the 2030 World Cup, which will be played in two of the countries most appreciated by Lamal: Morocco and Spain.