Ex-La Masia Gem ‘Won’t Shut the Door’ to Barcelona Return

Alex Grimaldo

Getty Former Barcelona defender Alex Grimaldo celebrates with Benfica.

Former Barcelona left-back Alex Grimaldo has refused to rule out a return to the Catalan giants at some point in the future as he prepares to take on his ex-employers in the Champions League on Wednesday.

Grimaldo came through the club’s famed La Masia academy and played 92 times for the club before leaving for the Portuguese side in 2016. The defender has regularly been linked with a return to the Camp Nou and admits Barca will always feel like home.

“It’s not a closed chapter. Barcelona is my home and I won’t shut the door to my home ever,” he told told Albert Roge at Diario Sport. “It’s clear they’re still one of the very best teams and I’d never say no.”

Grimaldo was also asked if he had ever thought about coming back to Barcelona and made it clear just how fondly he views his former club.

“It’s something I thought, that when I left it was a see you later, not a goodbye,” he added. “I was there eight years. I’m very happy at Benfica, I feel important here. But it’s clear Barcelona is my home and I have a lot of love for it.”

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Barcelona Need UCL Win

Barcelona head to Benfica on Wednesday in need of a victory to get their Champions League group stage campaign up and running. Ronald Koeman’s side were comfortably beaten 3-0 in their opening fixture by Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.

Meanwhile, Benfica have a point after kicking off their European campaign with a goalless draw at Dynamo Kiev, and Grimaldo admits he’s looking forward to welcoming Barcelona to the Estádio da Luz.

“Yes, because it will be very special. I’ve been here many years wondering if Barca would come because I want to go back to Camp Nou and play there,” he said. “It’ll be nice this game at home then at Camp Nou.”

Both teams head into the match after good league wins at the weekend. Barcelona saw off Levante 3-0 at the Camp Nou, while Benfica won 3-1 away at Vitoria de Guimaraes to make it seven wins from seven in the Portuguese top flight so far in 2021-22.

Barcelona Get Fitness Boost Ahead of UCL Tie

Barcelona also head to Benfica after seeing teenage striker Ansu Fati end his injury nightmare by coming off the bench to score against Levante. The fit-again 18-year-old was making his first appearance for the Catalans since November 2020.

Fati’s return is a huge boost for Koeman’s men who may also have Pedri and Jordi Alba back for Wednesday’s match. The two players were injured in the defeat to Bayern Munich but Barca confirmed on Monday they have now returned to training.

Pedri is the most likely player to return on Wednesday after recovering from a thigh injury, while Alba may need a bit longer and could make his comeback against Atletico Madrid in La Liga on Saturday, according to Javi Miguel at Diario AS.

Barca will also have midfielder Frenkie de Jong available again after he served a one-match suspension against Levante, while coach Ronald Koeman will be back on the bench after being forced to watch Sunday’s match from the stands due to a domestic touchline ban.

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