Barcelona are set for another chaotic end to the transfer window, but if you ask many Culers about the talent exciting them, it is 16-year-old Lamine Yamal.
In spite of his tender years, he can justly claim to be Barcelona’s best forward during the opening three games, nearly creating the winner against Getafe, being a constant threat against Cadiz, and winning the man of the match award against Villarreal, with a deicisive performance.
As the world discovers the child making senior professionals look silly, his celebration has caught the eye. Yamal often celebrates with both hands making a 304 sign with his fingers. Sport explain that it relates to his roots.
Born in Esplugues de Llobregat, Yamal has spent most of his ongoing childhood in the town of Mataro, around half an hour by car to central Barcelona.
In particular, Yamal comes from a neighbourhood called Rocafonda, which has a reputation in Mataro, but sometimes not the cleanest. There at the football pitches Yamal grew up essentially, often delighting locals with his incredible talents. Yamal’s uncle Mohamed had such faith in his talents, that he had a picture of Yamal up in his bakery imposed on a background of Camp Nou, long before he made his debut.
It was at CF La Torreta, from another neighbouring town in Roca del Valles, where Barcelona noticed him, joining the Blaugrana at the age of just 7. In spite of the faith of his uncle, Yamal was rather unassuming throughout his childhood, rarely if ever turning up in his Barcelona kit to the local pitches.
Not living at the La Masia residence that Barcelona have local to their training ground, Yamal and his father Mounir spent hours on end walking and sat on trains in the early hours or in evenings to get to training and games before his older brother learned to drive. In Rocafonda, he is surrounded by his family though too, with his cousins and grandmother.
Being in touch with his roots, 304 forms the final three numbers of the postcode in Rocafonda, and can be seen in graffiti around the neighbourhood. Hence, when Yamal celebrates with it, he harks back to long afternoons in playing on concrete or grass in Rocafonda.