Zayn Ali Salman: 5-year-old 'little Messi' dazzles in Dubai training camps

London pupil is training at Juventus and LaLiga winter academies while enjoying a family holiday in the UAE

A 5-year-old boy who was spotted by an Arsenal club scout while still in nursery is putting older child players through their paces at training camps in Dubai.

Zayn Ali Salman, from London, who is being called a 'little Messi', trained with the Juventus youth academy and was even invited to open a children’s clothing store during his stay in the emirate.

“He’s a different type of child in that he thrives on competition and challenges,” said his father, Ali Salman.

“He’s training with the under-9 with Juventus in Dubai,” he said.

“He always trains with children above his age because he’s very advanced.

“The head coach there loves him. Yesterday they actually gave him the Juventus kit.”

Zayn, who has just turned 5, was also invited to train with LaLiga Academy in Dubai and another youth training camp, Football Escapes, at Jumeirah Beach Hotel.

“He has also been asked to be a Childsplay children ambassador,” said Mr Salman, who is in the UAE on holiday with his family until January 6.

“It’s a big children’s designer clothing shop and they are opening a showroom in Dubai. So they want him to open it.”

He said Zayn, who has an Instagram account with more than 39,000 followers, is enjoying the attention he receives, both here and back home.

Mr Salman, an Arsenal fan whose parents are from Iraq, said offers have continued to come in since he became the north London club's youngest ever recruit to its pre-academy.

He now also trains with Fulham regularly and has offers from most of the top clubs, he said.

It will, however, still be years until any of them can sign him.

“With these big clubs, they don’t usually invite children [to join pre-academies] until they are at the end of reception or in year one.

"And legally in the UK, a child has to be seven or eight years old before they can sign for a club.

“But the Arsenal scout said he’s ready to start training now."

A coach in the UAE, who has seen him play, agrees.

Andrea Masci from Italy, who has played for one of the best football academies in Italy and now works as a head coach for a top football academy in Dubai, said Zayn shows great promise.

"I think Zayn’s level of talent is really exciting to see for someone of his age," he said.

"His attitude and behaviour towards the sport show great focus for a child of 5 years."

Updated: December 21st 2021, 7:43 AM