When FC Barcelona sold Junior Firpo to Leeds for 15 million euros, a debate opened at the club over whether they should sign a new backup for Jordi Alba or turn to the academy. Jose Luis Gaya’s name has often been linked with the Catalans but he has a contract until 2023 and Barca don’t have the money to sign him.
Ronald Koeman and his technical team have been considering the situation for a while. The Dutch coach has been keen to invest in the attack and turn to the academy for defence, with Alejandro Balde the option to use.
Koeman is not afraid of using younger players, with Pedri and Ilaix Moriba both used a lot, along with Oscar Mingueza and Ronald Araujo.
Balde has started against Nastic and Girona and done very well, with Alba on holiday after the Euros.
Balde played 45m against Nastic then an hour against Girona. He has not looked out of place alongside Dest, Pique and Umtiti.
Alba has been the indisputable left back more or less since he arrived in 2013, even though Barca later signed and sold Jeremy Mathieu, Lucas Digne and Junior Firpo.
At 32, Alba is still playing well and has time left. His experience can be useful for Balde to learn from too. With Alba he can learn to finesse his attacking contributions. Balde also needs to work on his positioning and defence capability. But he’s been active and exciting in the friendlies, showing good anticipation in defence.
Koeman was sure when he told the club that there was no need to buy a new left back. The Jordi Alba of the future is there already and he’s called Alejandro Balde.