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Jordi Alba makes his mark with Barcelona homecoming on the horizon
- Updated: 21 June, 2012
If you were forced at gunpoint to find one weakness in the Spanish side over the past six years then you could somewhat harshly point at the left back position as one that could be improved.
The long standing Joan Capdevila performed admirably in 60 games for his country but with age catching up with the 34-year-old, a successor has been needed for the Benfica player. Fortunately for La Roja this successor seems to have been found in the shape of Jordi Alba.
The Valencia players impressive displays for both club and country last season has seen Alba emerge as of La Liga’s hottest properties. Widely expected to leave the Mestalla this summer, interest in securing the services of the 23-year-old has been substantial with some of Europe’s biggest clubs linked to the Catalan.
Despite being released aged sixteen by Barcelona it will come as little surprise that the Catalans are currently sitting in pole position to get their former La Masia resident back in their ranks.
Valencia Sporting Director Braulio Vazquez recently told Radio Galega that “Barcelona want him because he’s Catalan and plays on the left wing. We are obviously talking about an excellent player, and it’s only normal that they are keen to sign him.”
Yet while certain Spanish media outlets have claimed that the deal could even be completed before the climax of the European Championships, others have stated that there still remains a difference in the valuation that Valencia have placed on Alba, and the amount that Barcelona are prepared to pay.
The player himself may have already indicated that he would prefer a move to Catalunya, telling RAC 1 that he thinks Barcelona ‘play the best football and they have very good players who he gets along with very well’. Ultimately however money talks and if the Camp Nou hierarchy aren’t prepared to meet Valencia’s demands then Alba may find himself at the destiny of the highest bidder.
Manchester United have been strongly linked with a bid to take the L’Hospitalet-born player to Old Trafford this summer and are waiting in the wings to pounce for a player whom they consider the ideal replacement for Patrice Evra.
Alba may insist – at least publically – that he prefers his newly founded position of left back after he was switched by former boss Unai Emery to the position last year, but the way in which the energetic and adventurous full back likes to get forward at every possibility could prove problematic in the Premier League.
And while Sir Alex Fergusons track record is hard to argue with, a left sided combination of Jordi Alba and Nani would be one that could leave a Grand Canyon esque hole, most especially when teams have the audacity to launch a counter attack.
For Spain it is a different story and despite some suggesting otherwise, is one that has worked to great success. Such is the style of Tika Taka and the emphasis based on ball retention that since making his debut for La Roja last September, Alba has been given the licence to advance forward at every opportunity.
In fact forget about the much discussed and highly controversial 4-6- 0 formation that Vicente Del Bosque implemented against Italy and in the second half against Croatia, at times it was almost a 3-7-0 with Alba proving a element of much needed width on the left hand side, especially considering that the Spain starting eleven is often devoid of someone that you would call an out and out winger.
And when you play for a team that controls the midfield with an almost unnerving grip, then that is absolutely fine. Combined with the rigid and dogged pressing that the likes of Spain and club side Barcelona employ then even on the rare occasions when the ball is not under the La Roja spell quick counter attacks are rare and often nullified.
According to Dani Alves, Alba is someone who would be perfectly suited to the Barcelona system “All players who offer something different are welcome and I think that Jordi is a player who brings with him speed, audacity and the Barca style. He could fit into our game because our full-backs are so attacking,” Alves observed.
Barcelona remain favourites for the signature of Jordi Alba and some reports claim he has already agreed terms, however there could still be some twists and turns to come in to what is building up into first transfer saga of the summer. Watch this space.Follow @icentrocampista