Barcelona defender Jordi Alba has sent a strong message to coach Xavi after losing his regular place in the starting XI to impressive teenage defender Alejandro Balde.
Alba has told Universo Valdano that he’s not happy with his game time at the Camp Nou this season after starting just 9 of Barcelona’s 21 La Liga games so far this season, as reported by Sport.
“I’m not getting the minutes I’d like, but I’m doing my job and I have another role with my team-mates. We all always want and think we can play more. I feel good, I’m proud, to have my head right,” he said. “I know what I am as a player, what I have given and what I can give. I feel strong, when you feel good mentally and physically, everything is easier. I am a better player now than ten years ago.”
Balde appears to have crept ahead of Alba in the pecking order and has started 16 times in the league for Barca. The teenager has come in for plenty of praise from Xavi who has described the youngster as a “joy to watch.”
The teenager has said he’s happy that Xavi is trusting him this season, saying he’s a more “explosive” player than Alba and Marcos Alonso who are the club’s other left-back options.
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What Next for Alba?
The Barcelona veteran may have to get used to life on the bench, as Balde continues to impress in La Liga. The Catalans are expected to hand the teenager a long-term contract shortly that will keep him at the Camp Nou until 2027. Alonso has already been handed a new one-year deal.
Alba’s current deal runs until 2024 and he has already said he plans to see out his existing deal but will “be the first to go” if he is deemed surplus to requirements at the Camp Nou.
Barcelona have already waved goodbye to Gerard Pique this season. The defender hung up his boots in November after losing his place in the starting XI under Xavi. Captain Sergio Busquets could be the next veteran to leave.
The 34-year-old midfielder is out of contract at the end of the season and yet to confirm his next move. He could walk away on a free transfer if he does not agree an extension.
Xavi Talks Alba’s Role
Xavi may not be choosing Alba on a regular basis but did warn the defender at a press conference before the win over Sevilla in September that he would have to fight for his place in the team.
“Jordi is another player in the squad. He’ll be important for us. He’s a player who is key, with his experience and his talent, his commitment to the group. As a captain I have no complaints,” he explained. He’ll play for sure, there will be injuries and sanctions, so no player is safe from everything. The players who will play will be the ones who are in the best condition. It will be based on meritocracy. Look at the titles he has won. We want to make sure the team benefits from all the players.”
Xavi has been as good as his word and there’s no doubt that Balde has deserved the game time he has received this season. Alba will know he faces a real battle for minutes if he does stay at the club past the end of this season.
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