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the signing of Barça with the biggest challenge

BarcelonaThis summer marks ten years since Jordi Alba signed for Barça. The acquisition that was negotiated in 2012 by Andoni Zubizarreta, the then chief sporting officer at Barcelona, ​​and Manuel Llorente, at the time president of Valencia, has produced an extraordinary performance. This is confirmed by the numbers of a whole decade. In exchange for a transfer valued at 15 million, Barcelona fans still enjoy a footballer who has marked an era on the left side of the first team.

Because, except for some starts affected by injuries and a brief stint on the bench with Luis Enrique in the 2016/17 season, the one from l’Hospitalet de Llobregat has been indisputable since he returned to the club in which he formed partially as a footballer. Under the orders of Xavi Hernández, a former team-mate who is also the seventh coach to direct him at the Camp Nou, he has not only maintained this role, but has strengthened it. Only a meteoric irruption of Marcos Alonso, the next acquisition that Joan Laporta proposes to present this summer with leverage and full pockets, can change the logic.

If nothing goes wrong in the next few hours, this man from Madrid with good height (1.88 meters) will become, after Andreas Christensen, the second defender to be traded by Chelsea for Barça for the 22/23 season. There were supposed to be three, but César Azpilicueta, the type to wait, has chosen to renew as captain of the London club. Alonso will sign for three campaigns (the last, optional) under a transfer fee of less than 10 million, a reasonable amount because his current contract ended in 2023.

The operation will fail. The player has been directly convinced by Xavi Hernández for months and Chelsea (specifically his coach, Thomas Tuchel) has put less punches than with Azpilicueta when it comes to authorizing the loss: he just needed to find a relief in his position Paradoxically, the blues they have strengthened themselves for this need with Marc Cucurella, a product of La Masia who was not long ago pointed out as Alba’s replacement at Barça. Alella’s full-back has generated a transfer fee of more than 65 million and yesterday he already played his first minutes at Goodison Park in a duel against Everton (0-1) that Alonso did not play.

Football has these things. Four summers ago, Barça did without Cucurella and endured an entire season with only one left-back in the squad, and now the Maresmenc, a fashionable winger in the Premier League, will take over from the player who, at almost 32 years old, will land in Barcelona to offer a present alternative to the immeasurable Alba. The veteran Alonso has been Barça’s bet for the left side of the defense because most of the future prospects with projection they have found have shown reluctance to change their ways in order to have to compete with the hospital winger, who last season only played starter games. “They see that it will be difficult for Barça to participate continuously”, they admit to ARA from the Camp Nou, where today they regret that the club did not make the bet, when Bartomeu was still in charge, for full-backs who have excelled in the last years in Europe like the Portuguese Nuno Mendes (PSG) or the Canadian Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich).

At least the alternation

Instead of these two specialists who are now at the top of Europe, the Blaugrana sports area decided on second-line profiles that never posed a real threat to the prominence of Alba, erected over time as a sacred cow thanks to his status as head assistant to Leo Messi. The first attempt was with Lucas Digne, who didn’t pass the grade in two seasons before being transferred to Everton. And the second was Junior Firpo, who had a testimonial role with Ernesto Valverde and left strongly criticizing Ronald Koeman for his methods.

Marcos Alonso, who with his arrival will cause the transfer of the young Alejandro Balde, has it relatively easy to improve the role of those who have tried to shadow Alba. But only time and the matches will tell if he is able, at least, to install an alternation on the left side of Barça. At the moment he has the confidence of Xavi, who chose him ahead of José Luis Gayà, Alejandro Grimaldo or Javi Galán because of his experience in big teams and because he sees the ability to play as a central player. He also values ​​his instinct to join the attack and the accuracy of his left foot, with which he usually serves corners and free-kicks quite successfully. If he performs well, no one will be tickling him for being an ex-Madrid player.

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