Real Madrid may be celebrating their jump to the summit of La Liga after a 2-0 win over Mallorca on Wednesday night but history was actually made within the losing team as Los Bermellones midfielder Luka Romero became the youngest player ever to debut in the Spanish top flight.
The youngster was brought on to replace Iddrisa Baba after 83 minutes to make his first league appearance at the age of 15 years and 219 days, breaking a record that was held since 1939 when Celta Vigo’s Francisco Bao Rodriguez- better known as Sanson- made his debut at the age of 15 years and 255 days.
While Luka Romero did not have enough time to showcase any signs of brilliance during the game, the Mexico-born player has often been compared to Lionel Messi due to his playing style and the circumstances that led to his career in the game. Football fans around the world are, however, expected to become familiar with his name soon enough as he has already begun making the headlines in Spain.
Who is Luka Romero?
Luka Romero was born to Argentine parents on November 18, 2004, in Durango City- which is located in Northern Mexico. His father, Diego Adrian Romero, was also a football player and was plying his trade as a defensive midfielder for Alacranes at the time of his birth.
The ‘Mexican Messi’, as he has come to be known, started by playing for a football academy at Formentera before moving to Mallorca at the age of ten.
Prior to his arrival at the Palma-based club, he was understood to have impressed Barcelona with his ability on the ball in a trial when he was seven. However, the La Liga giants were unable to sign him because of his family’s unwillingness to move to Catalunya and FIFA’s rules regarding the acquisition of players under the age of 10.
Luka Romero had not even played for Mallorca’s B team before he began training with their first team last month following a season with the club’s youth teams. Speaking of the teenager, Mallorca assistant manager Dani Pendín said:
“We have been watching him since he was 12, but we never wanted to promote him too early because we also have to be careful. We have seen him play and he did incredible things in his age group, but physically he was not fully developed and that could bring him problems when running into senior players. Today you can see in his legs and his body that he begins to fill out.”
The 15-year-old midfielder came close to being named in the first-team squad for Mallorca’s game against Barcelona on June 13 but paperwork issues prevented it from happening. He was an unused substitute during the following games against Villarreal and Leganes before he finally made his debut at Real Madrid‘s reserve stadium without a single fan in attendance.
The ‘Mexican Messi’ and his Argentine dream
The excitement surrounding Luka Romero’s ability has been brewing for years, with the likes of Manchester United, Barcelona, Juventus and Atletico Madrid all credited with an interest in his services. The comparisons to six-time Ballon d’Or recipient Lionel Messi have certainly helped build his reputation up to an even higher level.
The Mallorca youngster is known for his dribbling skills as well as his ability to control the ball and beat opponents. He possesses a keen eye for goal that has evidently allowed him to score multiple goals in a single game for Los Bermellones’ youth sides. Like Messi, he is capable of retaining possession and weaving magic with a left foot that is blessed with infallible precision.
To add to this, Luka Romero has always been vocal about his desire to represent Argentina at the international level, despite being eligible to play for either Spain or Mexico. In a statement released by the Argentina Football Association back in 2018, he said:
“My whole family is Argentine; my dream is to wear the Albiceleste shirt.”
The teenager has already represented Argentina at the youth level as he was called up to represent the national team at the U-15 Sudamericana in Paraguay last year. He tallied two goals during the tournament but missed a crucial penalty in the shootout as the Albiceleste lost to Brazil in the final.
His coach during the tournament, Alejandro Sagesse, was not too pleased with the Messi comparisons and said:
“We are talking about a kid of 15 years old. Does he play well? Yes, but his document says Luka Romero, not Lionel Messi. He has to write his own story. It is logical that they want to compare him because there are comparisons all the time, whether one agrees or not. This is an excessive comparison, he is being compared to a huge player.”
What the future holds for Luka Romero
Luka Romero is yet to sign a professional contract with Mallorca but the club will surely be willing to enter negotiations over the matter once he turns 16 in November. However, it will be incredibly difficult for the Spanish outfit to retain the player if he attracts serious interest from various European giants in the near future, especially as they are currently facing the threat of relegation from La Liga.