Barcelona: 3 La Masia youngsters to watch out for 2021-22

La Masia (Photo by Xavi Torrent/Getty Images for The Times )
La Masia (Photo by Xavi Torrent/Getty Images for The Times ) /
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Alejandro Balde, Barcelona
Alejandro Balde of Barcelona (Photo by Pedro Salado/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images) /

3. Alejandro Balde

Being a modern-day full-back is one of the toughest jobs in football. And when you are a full back at Barcelona, the responsibilities multiply by several manifolds. Barca full-backs need to be agile and excellent ball distributors and have a perfect blend of attacking instincts and defensive ingenuity.

Dani Alves and Jordi Alba have largely been underappreciated. While Barcelona’s right-back conundrum has troubled the side for too long, it is only now that the Catalans have found some stability. Barca must avoid a similar mishap on the left flank. Junior Firpo has been offloaded to Leeds United after an unsuccessful stay at Camp Nou. Barcelona have wafer-thin depth at left-back.

Taking into account Barca’s current financial state where spending money and buying a full back may not be the easiest way out, trusting La Masia’s players is a narrative that will be encouraged.

Alejandro Balde has caught the eye of Koeman in the pre-season. The void filled by Firpo is likely to be covered by Balde. The 17-year-old showed glimpses of his potential at Juvenil A which saw him make Barca B appearances last season.

Balde started his football career as a forward but eventually shaped into a left-back. Speed and acceleration are his biggest friends and what makes the difference is that he seems to know when and how to make use of it and make giant strides. The Spaniard is also a comfortable dribbler, ticking another prerequisite for being a Barcelona full-back.

He has a sound first touch and has the understanding of making overlapping runs, offering attacking support to the wingers. He still needs to hone his defensive skills but his pace aids him in running back and forth. He has a lot of promise and with sporadic first-team opportunities possibly around the corner, Balde cannot afford to take a step back. If the plot pans out to his liking, he could be the successor to Jordi Alba in a few years’ time.

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Which La Masia youngster are you most excited about?