For better or for worse, Jordi Alba still Barcelona’s best option

Riqui Puig of FC Barcelona celebrates with teammate Jordi Alba. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Riqui Puig of FC Barcelona celebrates with teammate Jordi Alba. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

Jordi Alba has been a stalwart at left-back for Barcelona.

Barcelona needed a comeback to beat Rayo Vallecano and advance to the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey. Arguably, they would not have been able to overcome the deficit had it not been for the inclusion of Jordi Alba.

Alba came on in the final 22 minutes of the match and immediately had much more of an impact than the man he replaced, Junior Firpo.

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He created a chance on goal in his first few minutes on the pitch and gave the assist to Frenkie de Jong that put Barcelona ahead and won them the match.

In his cameo, Alba proved that he is indispensable for manager Ronald Koeman, despite all his flaws.

He proved there is a significant drop off in quality when he doesn’t start and that he is one of the players that makes the Catalan attack tick.

According to Mundo Deportivo, Alba created two goal-scoring opportunities and has in assist yet only has 21 touches on the ball.

It was evident to anyone watching the game how different and more cohesive Barcelona looked with him in the game.

His understanding with Lionel Messi continues to. be one of the best and was on display in the team’s second goal.

For the past couple of seasons, the talk has been that Barcelona need to improve the left-back position. They have yet to find anyone who is near Alba’s level and it’s not for a lack of trying.

Whether or not the signings they made were the right ones, the likes of Firpo and Lucas Digne were not able to knock Alba off his perch. There is a reason why he has been the unquestionable starter since arriving from Valencia back in 2011.

But it’s not to say he is not without his flaws. As he’s gotten older, his defending has left much to be desired. His mentality has also been questioned given the way he reacted at halftime during Barcelona’s Champions League game against Liverpool at Anfield. He’s also a hot head and prone to picking up a caution for mouthing off to the referee.

With Alba, one has to take the good with the bad. The rumors linking the club with a replacement continue to exist and they need to find one sooner rather than later.

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However, barring Alba asking for a move, next season will likely mark his tenth as a Barcelona player. A lot has been made about Dani Alves, and rightly so, about how he held down the right-back spot. If and when he does depart, the same can be said about Alba and how he held down the left-back position.