I bank on him exploding physically in the next 2-3 years. Being able to play first division football at (barely) 16 gives me a lot of hope. Him with some serious pace and physicality would be a game changer for us.
Don't think we'll see a dramatic change in his physique. What is important though is that he becomes consistent with his dribbling, passing and shooting in combination with decision making. That's what will make him world class.
My thoughts exactly.
Even today, a few months after his debut, he looks less promising than after his first 2-3 matches.
With young dribblers:
1. he can either improve in a linear way and get better and better each year
2. or, he can have his peak aged 17-18 and decline after that (like young Michael Owen from Liverpool, our former Croatian Messi Halilovic, or Ronaldo the Brazilian/Fati due to injuries etc)
A few factors for a possible decline:
1. players play at 120% or 150% in the first seasons when they want to prove themselves and earn a starting spot.
Later they play with 80-100% percent and their magical performances from the 1st season disappear.
2. some players are the fastest/lightest aged 16-17-18. After that they often grow a few centimetres, gain a lot of mass and muscles and they are nowhere near as fast or agile as aged 17.
3. possible injuries like with young Fati or Ronaldo the Brazilian
4. a new problem of a modern era: young players getting the fame too early (aged 17-18) and due to social media, they are way more exposed to everything than players in the 70s, 80s, 90s or 00s.
And it is easy to lose your head soon. Since: it seems as if you have already won it all aged 18, so why bother and train hard?
5. the same is with money. Young players are signing crazy contracts aged 18, in order for clubs to keep them from City, Chelsea, Psg.
And the same as with social media, a lot of kids lose their heads and drop massively.
6. women, partying, alcohol in upcoming years
7. also there is a factor of young players getting too much space in their 1st season because no one takes them seriously.
And if they turn into starters after 1-2 years, then the opponents start to take them seriously, start to tackle them way harder, they get less room and suddenly it's a night and day compared to time and space they were getting in their first season
8. pressure: for anyone who is following Barcaforum or any football forum in a modern era, we have seen the same cycle repeating for every new player/gem:
1) at first he is overhyped. Whatever he does, it is overblown. And yet his flaws are overlooked and brushed off like: he is young, he will improve. Ffs, he is 16/17!
2) after 6-12-24 months: fans slowly lose their pink glasses and they start to notice player's flaws, stagnation in some areas etc
3) then on social media, in papers, on matches, the player starts to get the first negative reactions/comments/boos.
And while this is normal and all players (in 80s or 90s) had to go through these problems and critics, imo it is way harder today because the players get way more unreasonably hyped in the early days due to forums/social media/crazy fans with unrealistic hopes for every young kid.
So, in numbers, imo, a young kid in 1992' from Barca was overhyped by 120-130% compared to his realistic skills.
While kids today are overhyped to insane levels (remember those Twitter channels from that Navidjaan user and similar), like at 200-300% compared to their real abilities.
And imo, the fall in the 90s was smaller. Because the players were only "slightly" overhyped (at 120-130%, let's say).
While today, this is crazy.
Every new kid is a new Messi, a new 10, a new savior, a future Ballon D Or, his buyout clause is 1 Billion, he gets 5 million followers in a few months etc.
So, imo, today you need a way higher mental strength as an overhyped kid than 20-30 years ago, to overcome all this crazyness and to survive once when the fans turn against you, which will come in 1-2-3 years (Fati, Puig, Alena, Oriol, Dembele, Arthur, anyone).
So, it's a long way for Yamal to stay on the current level, and especially for improving.
It's a really long way since he is too young to make any assessment except that he is really talented. That is of course not enough in modern football. It never was actually.
On that note though, I don't feel his performances have dipped. He has better and worse games, true, but is never as bad as other, grown up, senior players.
Also, almost everyone on the team looks like an average at best player currently. Some look like second division players. Others look like Sunday league players.
The team is in turmoil and Xavi is trying to rescue the season using a 16 year old, which probably doesn't help the kid.