June 5, 2012 by joshilan14
Jordi Alba looks likely to be the next player after Gerard Pique and Cesc Fabregas to return to Barcelona after leaving their famed La Masia academy. The Valencia left-back has attracted a wealth of suitors after impressing for Valencia in recent seasons. This has also seen him touted by many as the successor at left-back to Joan Capdevilla for the Spain national team.
A native of Catalonia, Jordi Alba spent seven years from 1998 to 2005 at Barcelona’s famed youth academy. Upon his release, he joined amateur outfit UE Cornella, but he didn’t stay there for long. Valencia came calling and signed him for £5000, where he went straight into their B team.
His first taste of professional football came at a loan spell to second tier Gimnastic Tarragona, where he scored four goals in 35 appearances playing on the left-wing.
He returned to Valencia at the end of the season, where he made his debut for the Los Che at the start of the 2009-2010 season against Real Valladollid. Despite his manager Unai Emery being unfairly criticised by Valencia fans, he was responsible for converting Alba from a left-winger to a left-back: this came about after a wealth of injuries at the back saw him look to Alba due to his pace and good interlinking play.
The 2010-2011 season saw Alba given the nod over French left-back Jeremy Mathieu for his new position. He made 27 appearances in his first season as a Los Che regular, scoring two goals in the process.
The next season saw a change of emphasis from Unai Emery: this is because he started to use Mathieu on the left-wing, prompting Alba to give more attacking width and Mathieu more defensive cover. This saw him appear in 32 games, scoring twice and created five during the season.
September 2011 saw Alba get a much deserved first cap for Spain, when he started against Scotland in a 3-1 victory, in which he created a goal for his former Valencia teammate David Silva. This saw him labelled by the Spanish press as the long-term successor to Benfica’s Joan Capdevilla; with many fans and pundits alike thinking that he has made what was previously perceived as Spain’s ‘weak-link’ a lot stronger.
It is no wonder that Jordi Alba has been linked to Barcelona and Manchester Untied amongst numerous others after his progression at Valencia. This has seen him gain admiration from players, pundits, fans and managers alike: his Spain boss Vicente Del Bosque said “He is someone who links up well with teammates, gets forward, has excellent technique and defend correctly.” It is incredible to think that Alba has only just started playing at left-back; but his previous days as a winger have shaped the way he plays. He is certainly one to watch at Euro 2012 in the upcoming weeks.
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