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Jordi Alba’s successor

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FC Barcelona are known for their Tika-Taka style of football. This becomes possible only when every player plays their part to perfection. It has always been an art watching them play beautifully from front to back. One of the best things about this system is the players are likely where they need to be, which even allows players in defensive positions to express themselves freely.

The Catalonia giants signed Marcos Alonso late on in the transfer window to replace club legend Jordi Alba, who has only had just 3 appearances so far this season. Alba hasn’t stopped being productive in the final third, but he is also good for a significant defensive error every few games. However, a different player has been in the limelight in Xavi’s team. This is 19-year-old full-back Alejandro Balde.

Balde was born and bred at FC Barcelona’s La Masia academy. Let’s take a deep dive into Alejandro Balde, his years in the youth academy, his playstyle and what he offers to the team.

 

How good is Alejandro Balde?

Alejandro Balde has spent most of his life associated with FC Barcelona. Balde is a La Masia product through and through, having joined Barcelona at the age of eight. This is a player the whole of Barcelona is rooting for as it is proof that the Barca academy can still cultivate world-class talent at a variety of positions. Upon his arrival, Xavi felt dissuaded from taking chances on too many young players, and instead opted to rely on the experience of Alba and Pique, who had very good seasons themselves.

Alejandro Balde has been on the cusp of the first team for some time but struggled to earn minutes over Jordi Alba in Xavi’s first season in charge. Credit to Balde, as soon as the opportunity arrived to prove himself, he took it and ran with it. He had an impressive preseason, so much so that many pundits were wondering whether it was necessary to bring in Marcos Alonso at all. 

As things stand, there is stiff competition at the left-back position, and Balde is beating all competition, putting in high-level performances on a consistent basis.

 

Alejandro Balde stats

So far this season, Balde has made 5 appearances so far for FC Barcelona this season, assisting 3 times in nearly 190 minutes.

Xavi has had his eye on Balde for a while, since last season, when he also had 5 appearances. However, he has been incredible this season. Balde has been in the starting eleven since the second game of La Liga this season, which only goes to show how much Xavi trusts this young starlet who just continues performing.

He even made his national debut for Spain’s U-21 side recently. He’s set to be a key part of Spain’s next generation after this winter World Cup.

Alejandro Balde scout report

Balde may be best as a wing-back, but has been very competent on both sides of the ball in Xavi’s preferred 4-3-3. He has the ability to run with the ball, attack up the wing, and play a good final ball into the box. 

The full-backs and wingers have the most riding on those partnerships flourishing. He has linked up well with Robert Lewandowski in particular, assisting two of the Pole’s goals, and that chemistry may be the most important factor of all for why he continues to be chosen by Xavi. This team really is starting to revolve around providing the centre-forward with service, and whoever can do that best will play the most. 

For a neutral fan, Balde is also just a lot of fun to watch. He’s capable of breaking ankles while making a spectacular run up the field, which provides a nice balance on the left flank when Ousmane Dembele is playing on the right side. It allows for Barca to play with less vertical wingers like Ansu Fati and Memphis Depay, who are more of inside forwards rather than wingers who stretch the play.

 

Alejandro Balde FC Barcelona future

Balde is a Barca player who Xavi can trust to take risks going forward while not being wasteful. Balde has done a great job choosing his moments and has been equally good with the ball at his feet and with runs off the ball as well. He has also been a very good defender who has shown exemplary field awareness, which is why his future at the club is looking really secure. 

Alejandro Balde is evidence that La Masia continues to be influential. With young stars in their side, Barca is showing they can win now while rebuilding for the long term at the same time. Balde is not going anywhere and will be, hopefully, part of an incredible side’s future.

Aditya Kochhar
A true Red Devil, who has idolised David de Gea for more than a decade. He loves watching conspiracy documentaries, writing poetry and food. He claims to be a God-tier FIFA player and can be seen occasionally ranting while playing it.

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