The left-back's season has been meteoric considering where he was last summer
On 21 May 2022, Alejandro Balde played 90 minutes for FC Barcelona's reserve team under the orders of Sergi Barjuan in the Group II of the Spanish third division.
At the beginning of the season, he had been in the first team dynamic under Ronald Koeman. But, along with injuries, the arrival of Xavi had relegated him back to the B team. Still at Junveil A age, during the second half of the season, the full-back was a permanent fixture for Sergi in the third tier of Spanish football.
Little did the Barcelona-born player imagine that his life would turn around in just a couple of months. Balde did pre-season with the first team. In most of the 'predictions' he appeared as a clear option to leave on loan. Or even transferred if a good offer arrived.
But between the delay in signing Marcos Alonso and his great performances on the North American tour, the coach decided to keep him and give him a chance. In theory, Jordi Alba was the first-choice left-back. And behind him was Marcos Alonso, although it was going to take a while for the Madrid-born player to acclimatise and get up to speed at a new club.
Nine months on, it's not at all strange to see Balde occupying the left flank at Spotify Camp Nou. But the fact that Xavi decided to start him in the second matchday against Real at the Reale Arena was quite surprising. And the player from La Verneda made the most of it. That game in Donosti was a before and after for his career. A meteoric and unstoppable progression.
Xavi was captivated by the performance of a tireless player, who covered the whole flank for 90 minutes as if there was no tomorrow. The width and depth he provided also won the hearts of the fans. The fact that he grew up at the club also added an extra touch of romanticism. He grew steadily, starting in important matches (against Bayern at home, for example).
As Balde grew in stature, Alba was relegated to a more testimonial role. In fact, the emergence of Balde has been key in Alba's decision not to continue. The veteran full-back has been a professional and saw that his impact would continue to be reduced next season. Balde has taken over the left side of the Barcelona defence.
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