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Barcelona concerned about La Masia graduate’s performances, searching for competition for him



Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images

When Alejandro Balde displaced Jordi Alba as Barcelona’s first-choice left-back last season, it was regarded as the dawn of a new era at the club. After all, Alba had held down the position for close to a decade unchallenged and had finally been replaced as the starter.

With the veteran departing in the summer, Balde assumed the position of the first-choice left-back heading into the current campaign. With the new role came a new long-term contract as well as a new jersey number.

But, things have not gone all too well for the La Masia graduate this season as some of his performances have been a major letdown, which even resulted in him being benched by manager Xavi Hernandez for some games.

Barcelona concerned about Balde’s performances

Now, SPORT is reporting that Barcelona have grown concerned about the dip in Balde’s performances in the ongoing campaign.

The young left-back’s decision-making in the final third, in particular, is said to be causing major worries within the club.

Xavi believes a lot in the academy product, but this season he has already given him the odd warning, directly talking to him, but also benching him in games in which he should theoretically be in the starting lineup.

There have been occasions when the coach has even changed the formation to go for a system of three centre-backs in which Balde played as a wing-back, looking for a reaction from the player.

Barcelona searching for competition for Balde

Not at his best this season. (Photo by PAU BARRENA/AFP via Getty Images)

The Blaugrana are eager to avoid having a situation like they had at right-back following the departure of Dani Alves when they struggled to find a replacement for him for years.

A similar situation could have developed at left-back as well, with Alba going uncontested for years, but Balde’s emergence addressed that. However, with the 20-year-old’s performances slipping, Barça are now looking for serious competition for the youngster.

The Blaugrana believe that Balde needs competition to rediscover his best form – something that is lacking in the squad at this point. Against this backdrop, it is clear to the club that reinforcing the left-back position cannot take too long.

Marcos Alonso has hardly played and is currently injured. With his contract expiring in the summer, he is expected to depart as well.

In addition to Balde and Alonso, Xavi has used Joao Cancelo, Héctor Fort, and Barça Atlètic defender Gerard Martin, who played in the friendly in Dallas against Club América, at left-back.

As always happens in these cases, economic limitations condition everything, but the left-back file is open.

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